The Surprise 1

6 Christchurch Terrace , London, SW3 4AJ

3 reviews

32 Gastropub Chelsea

SquareMeal Review of The Surprise

This cheery member of the ever-growing Geronimo Inns stable has all of the group’s “kitsch charms”, but manages to throw down a few surprise curve balls while delivering on the gastropub basics. Downstairs is decked out in the chain’s usual brand of front-room geniality; upstairs is a more “stately” dining room, with an appealing menu of ‘tapas-style’ Brit dishes for sharing. Eclectic options such as quail salad with lemon, chicory and praline sit alongside Brit stalwarts including potted Hampshire pig, Devon crab cakes and cured Gressingham duck breast with greengage vinaigrette, while those wanting a bigger plateful could order beer-battered haddock, slow-cooked ox-cheek pie or whole roast sea bass with smoked garlic and rainbow chard. Puds have a European flavour, ales are kept in “excellent” order, and almost everything on the food-friendly global wine list is available by the glass.

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7.3

Food & Drink: 8.3

Service: 8.7

Atmosphere: 6.3

Value: 8.3

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

BoatLady platinum reviewer 02 February 2012

I fell in love a little bit with this place as soon as I walked in but I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it's because it's set in a quaint corner of Chelsea strangely devoid of the perma-tanned, puffa-toting, teeny-pooch wielding set, filled instead with Old School types quietly enjoying life. Maybe it's the slightly disconcerting Dog-as-Admiral portraits on the walls and jar of Bonios on the counter. Maybe it's because the decor with cosy, comfy chairs, but stripped back wooden flooring makes it bright but warm on this freezing February lunchtime. Maybe it's because it has actually implemented the oft-debated-at-pub-post-wine idea of British tapas with reasonable success: you could easily get carried away as everything on the menu is appealing but we exercised restraint and had between 2 of us: fish pie, cottage pie, honey roast carrots and parsnips, and cauliflower cheese and each mouthful (although there's only 3 or four per dish) was delicious. None of these elements necessarily scream Best Pub Ever but that meal and 4 glasses of wine for a modest £35 (excl service), in such an amenable venue, does shout “Bargain!”. This place defies definition but “charming” is the best I can do (I actually saw a woman mouth “ooooh” when she walked in) and if we absolutely have to do the whole play on words thing then I'd say definitely Pleasant Surprise rather than Nasty Surprise. As an aside Geronimo Inns, which owns this place, is managing to do all the things a chain should deliver in terms of assured levels of quality on food, drink, service, and decor but managing to maintain the one thing they usually sacrifice for it: genuine individuality at each locale. Fans should also try Prince Albert (south of The River, cosy post-dogwalk drinks) and the recently re-opened King's Arms (Fulham Road, no-nonsense food, interesting mural behind the bar!).

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 3.0

Thomas M. 27 July 2011

I had discovered the Surprise through a colleague, and what a surprise. A beautiful location and premises is spoilt by the overall gloom. Th overall visitation is saved by good quality food from the kitchen and excellent professional service from waiting staff namely a sweet short haired petite English girl and a South African who guided us through the menu and knew her business very well. Our bar service was delayed by a pot bellied grey haired man who apparently used to own Foxtrot Oscar and walked behind the bar as if he owned the place. Finally a large wine at the Surprise is 175 as opposed to 250 at the sister pub the Pheonix around the corner???

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Emily P. 31 May 2011

I had such a wonderful night at The Surprise that it would be a total injustice not to rate this pub so highly. The service was exceptional from the moment I enquired about a reservation to the moment we said goodbye. The staff is not only warm and friendly but knowledgeable and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Welcoming is also the perfect adjective for the atmosphere which is jovial and inviting. Our table ordered lots of plates to share but my favourite dishes were the squid which was mouthwatering and the gem and pea salad. And the recommended rose was perfect. The only bad thing about the evening was that I did not have time to stay for dessert as I had my eye on the Eton Tidy! I guarantee that I will be back to try it.

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