What was for 16 years the Cheyne Walk Brasserie has been refurbished and relaunched by Sally Greene, who was the founder director of The Old Vic and also owns Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Greene lives on Cheyne Walk herself, so it’s fair to assume that la patronne mange ici. And no wonder – she has created the sort of neighbourhood gem that Chelsea locals will lap up and anyone priced out of SW3 should bus it to on the number 19.
Forget about the trashy goings-on of Made in Chelsea. Fifty Cheyne is classy and grown-up - a little too much, perhaps, with the feel of somewhere to pull on a pair of smart trousers for Sunday lunch with your parents.
That said, it is supremely comfortable, with marble tables set on parquet floors and chandelier-lit interiors hung with striped curtains and stuffed with cushions and plump upholstery; attentive staff are no less cosseting. The overall effect is like a country-house hotel dining room, only with buzz and fun.
Chef Iain Smith is ex-Atherton (Social Eating House and Sosharu) so knows a thing or two about pleasing sophisticated palates without scaring them with anything avant-garde. Scallop and langoustine come in Champagne sauce, halibut with a roast chicken broth, while veal chops, pork cutlets and T-bone steaks are cooked over flames on the open grill.
A vol-au-vent to start involved a well of finely wrought pastry filled with a vividly green garlic and parsley sauce wrapped around a butch jumble of snails and black pudding: a beautiful contrast of prettiness and punch.
To follow, perfectly cooked and seasoned steak comes with bearnaise sauce for dunking fat fingers of fluffy beef-dripping chips. Classic puddings, meanwhile, include chocolate fondant and pear crumble, though we opted instead for a plate of well-kept cheese. Finish it all off with an Espresso Martini brought down from the louche cocktail bar, made with whisky instead of vodka and with a minty kick for post-prandial refreshment.
Sunday roast with all the trimmings includes beef sirloin and leg of Herdwick lamb; while away the rest of the afternoon with the Sunday papers in the upstairs Drawing Room with its views over the Thames, as des a res as you’ll find without moving next door to Sally Greene.