When you think of Chelsea what do you think of? Red trousers? Very good dogs waddling along everywhere? People eating oysters at 2pm on a...Tuesday?
If you thought of any of the above, then you would be correct. But you should also think of a vast array of restaurants, and a pub that belongs to James Blunt. Because although Chelsea might not have the finest restaurants in London, it does have very a decent range of eating options, from all-day cafes, to fancy Indian, to hearty pub grub.
How into French brasseries are you? If the answer is very, then you’ll really like Colbert. This all day spot on Sloane Square is a bit like being slapped around the face by a macaron wielding maman who’s also singing ‘Aux Champs-Elysées’ into an old-fashioned microphone. But in a good way. Expect all the usual classics like steak tartare, oysters, and îles flottantes. For summer days, there’s also a Parisian-style terrace.
Yes, yes laugh it up. It sounds a bit rude, we know. But name aside, this little noodle bar isn’t something to joke about. Phat Phuc’s combination of cute courtyard setting and tasty affordable dishes that range from laksa, to noodle salads, to pho, make it an excellent quick lunch or early dinner choice. Everything is just under a tenner, and it’s a very useful (and tasty) option if you’re in the area.
Let’s just kick this off by saying that La Mia Mamma is a bloody great laugh. The concept of this place is that they serve proper Italian food handmade by real, Italian ‘mammas’, who will force feed you additional pasta like you haven’t eaten since birth. Honestly, if you’re not already sold then we’re not sure that we can be friends anymore. Even on weekdays you’ll find it packed with families, waltzing in shouting ‘buonasera’ with three generations in tow. This place is fun, loud, and just the right amount of cheesy. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate the food here. It’s some of the best handmade pasta in London, and the gorgonzola gnocchi is next-level tasty.
There are many, many Italian restaurants in Chelsea to choose from. There’s the old school ones, the very expensive ones, and then the ones you shouldn’t miss. Il Trillo is kind of a combination of all three. It’s been open for over 30 years, has a slightly dated but endearing feel. And though it can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Most of their handmade pastas come in half portions, so the best game plan is to swing by with a group, order several and make your way through the pretty epic wine list. Thanks to the garden out back that’s open all year round, this place is also prime date night material.
This is the fourth London outpost selling products from the Daylseford farm in Gloucestershire. Downstairs there’s a shop where you can buy expensive organic artichokes, but the all-day café/restaurant on the first floor is where you should go for a coffee, some cold press juice, and a pretty satisfying meal, especially when you’re looking for something kind of healthy. Lunch options include pizzas, or their signature chopped salad, but if you’re after something more substantial, their seasonal salads are very good, and adding a venison rump in sage and truffle butter is always a good move. Despite the slightly sterile decor, this is a great spot to get a laptop out and spend the afternoon ‘working’.
If, between the years 2011-2015, you weren’t watching Made In Chelsea, then kudos. You are better people than we are. If you were though, then you know all about Bluebird. This King’s Road spot is a geotag come to life. It’s an all-day café where you can relax (but be extremely conscious of how you look in your front camera), that also has a bar and lounge attached to it. Jokes aside, it’s a big space that does decent-ish food, and is good spot for big groups.
Opposite Bluebird is a casual restaurant that could not be less like its shiny phoenix of a neighbour if it tried. This place is casual, cheap, and a pretty spot for dining solo without anyone presuming that your kind of famous friend got caught in traffic after their Missguided ambassador meeting. They’ve got a big menu of Chinese classics, from pan fried dumplings, to braised beef clay pots, to kung po chicken.
For all the stick Chelsea gets for being in its own little bubble, it is quite a pretty looking bubble sometimes. The Cross Keys is a pub on a small row off the Thames, and it’s a lovely spot on a sunny day. Or even a bleak one that requires hunkering down. The food is sort of fancy: like venison tartare. But it’s also hearty: like sausage and mash. And the same goes for the pub itself. It feels aspirational, but familiar, like an X Factor contestant’s backstory.
The beauty of a restaurant in geographical limbo is that, really, it can be claimed by either side. And Hunan wants to be claimed by Chelsea, Belgravia, and Pimlico. This no-menu Chinese restaurant makes things very simple for you. 12 courses (at around £50) for lunch, or 18 courses (at around £70) for dinner. It’s fun, it’s delicious, and it’s best saved for two people on a special occasion. Although once you try the twice cooked crispy pork, you’ll want to eat it everyday.
Chicama is kind of like a mash-up between a great little Peruvian place and a chic ‘hello pink velvet’ marble bar spot. That means you can either come here for a casual weeknight catch up and sit out on the patio or in the rustic front dining area, or get a little bit suave at the bar with a couple of pisco cocktails. The seafood here is alright, but what you really want to get involved in are their vegetable dishes. Special shoutout to the courgette and cornmeal beignets with chilli jam.
Elystan Street is a French-Italian fine dining restaurant which tries to be a bit chill, but has very un-chill prices. The food, however, is very good, so if you’re looking for a special occasion restaurant that won’t frown at you for chewing loudly, or turning up in that t-shirt with the ketchup stain that won’t come out, then this is your place.
Chelsea has a pretty bougie and expensive reputation, and places like Villa Mama don’t necessarily help. Starter portions of kaskhe bademjoon (aubergine in sauce), hummus, and mathrooba (a chicken stew) will leave you around £30 out of pocket. That said, the food at this Bahranian spot is tasty, and if you’ve got money to spend, then you could do a lot worse than sharing a couple of starters and a main between two of you here.
Vegetarian, quick, and easy - that’s Wulf And Lamb. We’re withholding judgement on the idea of naming a vegetarian restaurant after an infamous carnivore, but really that’s irrelevant. All you need to know about this place is that it’s a good spot to grab a kind of healthy sandwich on the go, or to swing by for a sit-down seitan burger.
Walking through Chelsea’s residential streets it’s hard not to look at the gleaming houses, and think: nope, it’s not gonna happen. For us a least, Kutir is the closest we’ll ever get. This fancy Indian restaurant is in a townhouse off the King’s Road, but that’s not the only reason to come here. Dishes like chicken tikka masala are extremely tasty. If you’re not sure about shelling out £16 for this straight away, check out the lunch or early dinner set menu which is just £20 for two courses.
Bandol is a chic (yes, we said chic) and shiny southern French spot with a live tree in the middle of the dining room. Because mother nature never goes out of fashion. Or something. The menu is a mix of sharing plates like tuna tartare and aubergine millefeuille, with larger mains like lobster linguine too. This place is the perfect start to a boozy night where you want to get a bit dressed up (sit at the golden bar), or your final destination for a date with someone who enjoys a bit of glitz.
Despite its name, Vingt-Quatre is absolutely nothing to do with getting high. Though you’d probably be quite happy to wander into this 24hr spot off the Fulham Road if you were. As you can imagine, the food here does a job rather than blow you away. But it also has a round-the-clock alcohol license, which means it’s a much more appealing option than the golden arches, or anything similar.
Thanks to its four billion outposts, The Ivy has now become the suede loafer and gilet-wearer’s Wetherspoons. The brasserie-style food is nothing-y, but we do include it for a reason: the huge garden can be very enjoyable on a sunny day. So bear it in mind if the weather is nice and you’re good with an inoffensive eggs benedict, cheeseburger, or something along those lines.