50 Cheyne Walk
Tel: 020 7376 8787
Chelsea, especially Cheyne Walk has connotations with the swinging sixties, pop stars, actors and film directors all converged on what was then more of an artist’s outback than the über swish exclusive place it is these days. There has to be something about a short street than can attract amongst its alumni David Lloyd George, Keith Richards, Vera Brittain, George Elliot, JMW Turner, Mick Jagger, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Gerald Scarfe who still resides there.
The first thing that you notice as you walk into the warm comfortable space of the Cheyne Walk Brasserie is a giant charcoal grill turning out steaks, fish, lobster and other wonders. We were shown to our corner banquette, which was really roomy and just by a window so lovely and bright. The staff were charming, we were looked after by Francesca who hails from Italy but likes Cheyne Walk Brasserie so much she has been there three years.
The menu is solid French fare, you will find all the expected classics; snails with garlic butter, charcuterie, grilled chicken a good selection of fish and a good children’s menu as well. We nibbled some rather good arancini, not particularly French but tasty all the same.
My elder son X has a lust for seafood that he certainly didn’t get from me, his eyes lit up at the options available. A, our youngest (and sometimes our bravest, he was eating sushi at the age of three) very wisely chose raw salmon tartar that came with a beetroot salad, mayonnaise with a mild mustard and keta eggs or saviar as it is sometimes called. It is the lovely bright orange roe of the Keta Salmon. He loved these little jewels and ate the lot as well as the salmon.
X and myself went for a deceptively tasty oven baked goat’s cheese with brilliantly sweet onions and a couple of slices of smoked duck with figs on toast. This was a winner, the sweet onions and figs perfectly countered the tart goat’s cheese and the powerful duck. M was pleased to discover the soup of the day was vichyssoise, one of her favourites. It was well chilled and had a quenelle of crème fraiche floating on the top, all good so far.
The mains were on the whole worked. I had a very good Chateaubriand with chips, spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes and a decent Béarnaise. The meat was tasty and the vegetables propped up the full flavour well. A chose from the children’s menu a breast of chicken that came with chips. This was well cooked but a little uninteresting. He made up for it with a good helping of tomato ketchup!
M’s rack of lamb was a little over cooked, she had asked for medium rare but there was little evidential pink on display. It arrived in a large cast iron pot and was very tasty nonetheless. Now we come to X and his love of the sea. He chose a whole grilled lobster with garlic butter. It took him a while but he did eat it all, the mystery of the various implements supplied ebbed away as he tugged and pulled after scrapping and cracking. A great experience that he thoroughly enjoyed, the lobster was lovely too with excellent garlic butter to assist. Our sides were also good with a special mention to the Dauphinois and pan-fried wild mushrooms, shallots and parsley.
The restaurant wasn’t completely full but even when it is you still have plenty of room between tables. The decor is really light and airy, they have a room upstairs that can be hired for small functions. They also serve afternoon tea, which might make a pleasant change to a full on meal.
There is a talented hand working the pastry at Cheyne Walk. A and M both chose an assortment of meringues with raspberry cream. This was fantastic, a selection of tiny meringues of different flavours with the tastiest raspberry cream, sweet, gooey and slightly tart from the cream. I really liked this it is everything a good dessert in a French restaurant should be. X elected to have a crème brûlée, which turned out to be a stamina beater. It was rich, very creamy with a good crust but so gigantic he couldn’t finish it. I was unable to decide whether to have a dessert or not so defaulted and wimped out with a selection of very good French cheeses, these had been well kept and served as the perfect end to my meal.
The whole lunch experience at Cheyne Walk is one I would recommend. The relaxed approach to the food while still retaining high quality is worth visiting for. We did have the odd hiccup but nothing that would prevent me from returning.
Coffees and teas were served, the sun was still blazing through the window in that way that belies the temperature outside but we still had time for a little stroll to try and find some blue plaques and put some door numbers to some names. Oh and did I mention with the teas and coffees along came a quartet of tiny tart au citron. So I did get to have my tart and eat it after all.