Phil Howard’s more casual follow-up to The Square has established itself as a Chelsea essential, the sort of restaurant to go to for supper on the way home or something more challenging for a special occasion: in other words, a terrific local that merits a journey from further afield.
We ate simply – and superbly – on our most recent visit to Elystan Street. Double-baked cheese soufflé with Montgomery Cheddar, melted leeks, button mushrooms and truffle was comfort food of the highest order. Breast of duck with a tarte fine of caramelised endive, crushed turnip and cherries combined richly sweet meat with bitter leaves and some terrific pastry work. And a meringue dome of pavolva looked too perfect to crack open – except we would have missed the ripe strawberries within.
Alternatively, we could have plumped for pesto-glazed fillet of red mullet with zucchini fritti and aubergine caviar or pressed shoulder of Ibérico piglet with grilled pluma, pickled plums and charred hispi cabbage, followed by prune and Armagnac tart with tea ice cream – “exceptionally well-executed dishes, crafted with flair”.
Prices are the Chelsea norm (ie. high), but good-sized portions mean “you don’t need a magnifying glass to see the food”. And if you spend some time with the “carefully constructed” wine list, you’ll discover plenty of interesting drinking for under £30 (as well as a lot more).
Displays of modern art in the chic, contemporary dining room show the connoisseur’s eye of co-owner Rebecca Mascarenhas, while service comes from the same well-drilled, well-spoken stable as the pair’s other projects, Kitchen W8 and Sonny’s Kitchen – neighbourhood restaurants that also have an instinctive understanding of what their customers want.