Much-loved Chelsea institution The Cadogan Arms has been pulling in crowds far beyond its neighbourhood for years, so when it closed its doors for a full renovation back in 2019, it’s fair to say that expectations for its return were high.
The kitchen is now headed up by Alex Harper, previously The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms, and James Knappet, who joins from two Michelin-star spot Kitchen Table. The pair have worked together to create a modern pub menu that focuses on simply prepared, local produce with (much to our delight) an underlying retro theme throughout, resulting in an experience that manages to feel casual yet special.
There’s a real buzz about the place as soon as you step foot through the door, and the decor has been updated to feel homely yet modern (there’s even some impressive dried flower displays around the fireplaces, making for some unexpected Insta opps).
The menu is full of pub classics guaranteed to stir a sense of nostalgia - from prawn cocktail and ham, egg and chips, to chicken kiev and strawberry sherry trifle.
You can tell a lot about a pub by its scotch egg - in fact, we'd go as far as to say a pub’s reputation could depend on it - so we ordered The Cadogan Arms’ version with some apprehension. We're not sure if we're delighted to say it was the best scotch egg we're ever eaten or not, given that we will now need to travel across London for our next fix. Slightly undercooked yolk wrapped in well-seasoned meat with a crisp coating - it was perfectly paired with a crunchy, zingy piccalilli that we're still thinking about today.
The kiev delivered on the juicy, tender chicken and garlic punch you’d expect, although lacked the ‘buttery ooze’ we’ve come to love. The prawn cocktail (we were told, from a passionate prawn cocktail advocate) had the perfect prawn-to-sauce-to-lettuce ratio, with just the right amount of horseradish tang and fresh notes of lemon running throughout.
The dessert list is full of tempting options, and while we had it on good authority that the Cambridge burnt cream - with its velvety, vanilla-pod packed custard - is well worth a try, we'd be doing you a disservice if we didn’t insist on the strawberry sherry trifle. Arguably big enough to split between two, the well-balanced combination of cream, strawberries, sherry-soaked sponge and jelly is sure to delight any dessert fan.
Wash it all down with a blackcurrant negroni and start planning your next visit.