Firstly let me apologise for the delay in getting this post out, if you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram (@adventuresofalostqueen) then you’ll know that London Fashion Week has somewhat taken over my life as of late. The good news is that I’m back and I have some great posts coming up, the even better news is that I’ve somehow managed to secure an internship with an amazing fashion PR company down here in London! So be ready for some serious fashion posts in the near future.
Anyway, back to the latest edition of ‘A Queen’s Guide to London’ and this time I’ve been exploring the manicured gardens, lavish townhouses and exquisite cuisine of Chelsea. This area of the capital is famed for its posh pedigree, stunning architecture and annual flower shows, all of which draw tourists and Londoners in equal measure. The home turf of the stars of ‘Made In Chelsea’ is hardly lacking in famous sights, from Bluebird to the Saatchi Gallery this neighborhood is brimming with incredible experiences. However its the less well-known parts of this area, the things that most guide books don’t tell you about, that really make it one of my favourite London neighborhoods.
Sat quietly next to it’s more famous sister (Manicomio Restaurant), Manicomio Poco combines sleek Italian food and design with casual British cool and all for an extremely reasonable price. Situated just a stones throw from the picturesque Duke of York Square and with large heated terrace Poco is the perfect place for alfresco dining any time of day.
Should you prefer to sit inside then you’ll find yourself confronted with charmingly chaotic space overflowing with freshly made cakes, pastries and all manner of culinary delights. At this point you are forced to make an extremely difficult choice: do you grab a cozy little table right in front of the chefs, where you are constantly bombarded with delicious sights and smells OR do you grab a seat in the exquisite sun-room at the back of the café where you can enjoy you pseudo-alfresco dining whatever the weather?
Whilst the whole place is beautiful and the décor has a timeless style it is the food that keeps me going back to Poco again and again. A Poco breakfast offers everything you could ever want and more. If you’re like me then you’ll want to treat yourself with something you would never make yourself at home, perhaps the smoked salmon brioche bun with burrata, onion, watercress & capers maybe even with a side of grilled Tuscan sausages for good measure? If you’re a fan of a slightly healthier option then why not try the home-made granola with seasonal fruit and Greek yoghurt?
Everything that I have tried at Poco has been delicious, with the only exception being the Buttermilk pancake with crispy bacon, fried egg & maple syrup…delicious doesn’t even come close to describing how good that was! As if the food and atmosphere wasn’t enough they also make a mean Bloody Mary, for those post-night out qydebrief where hair of the dog really is the only option.
If you aren’t a morning person then have no fear, the Poco lunch menu, accompanied by a small but carefully chosen wine list, is equally delectable. If you’ve been following this series since the beginning then you’ll know that I am a big fan of sharing plates, and boy does Poco deliver on that front. With an incredible cheeseboard, salami board and the classic antipasti I could quite happily eat here every day. Should prefer not to share your food then don’t worry there is also plenty for you. A particular favourite of mine is the seared yellow fin tuna, quinoa, aubergine & spinach with chilli & turmeric dressing.
Whilst Manicomio Restaurant next door may be more well-known and offer a more elegant option for diners, it is Poco that I think deserves the real recognition. This stylish spot offers great food and drink in an unpretentious atmosphere and all without breaking the bank.
Megan’s is slice of sunshine nestled in the heart of the Chelsea Design Quarter. With food and drink inspired by the Mediterranean and an atmosphere that blends quaint British charm with beach-inspired décor, this really is one of the loveliest spots in London. You can’t help but smile when walking into Megan’s, the welcoming staff, warm atmosphere and enticing smell of home-made food is capable of brightening even the most dreary of London days.
The stand-out of Megan’s is undoubtedly their garden. With a retractable roof, heaters and half the world’s supply of fairy lights the garden can be enjoyed day and night, all year round. Whether you fancy a an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a book or you’re planning a dinner with a big group of friends, Megan’s caters for everyone and always delivers an excellent service.
The sunny, carefree style of the restaurant continues into the menu itself which is packed full of delicious home-style recipes inspired by all things bright and easy. If it hasn’t become obvious already, I am a big fan of breakfast foods, and Megan’s offers up a small but perfectly executed menu of morning classics including a particularly good breakfast grill.
Brunch is where things start to get dangerous at Megan’s, the option of sea-salt nutella cookies and nutella cheesecake normally mean that I leave a Megan’s brunch about 2 stone heavier than I entered. The brunch menu includes several stand-out dishes including the baked eggs shaksoumi with halloumi, or the jug of freshly made Pimm’s (that’s a dish right?). However, if you happen to trying Megan’s for the first time in summer then I must recommend trying something from the grill, this includes everything from seabass to halloumi and whatever you choose comes with 3 types of salad of your choice. Sitting in the garden with the sun shining down on you munching on one of these is something I cannot recommend enough.
For the dinner service Megan’s fully embraces all thing Mediterranean offering dishes from across the region, all made fresh with the best ingredients they can find. Whether you feel like lamb kleftiko or imam bayildi, the food is sure to transport you to the sun-soaked shores of the Med.
The food and atmosphere really are incredible at Megan’s, but it is the carefree approach of the friendly and chatty staff that make it somewhere you will keep going back to. It is rare in a city as chaotic and busy as London to find somewhere where you can so fully shut off from the outside world, but Megan’s is one such place.
The World’s End Market:
Situated in the old World’s End Tavern, which dates back to the reign of King Charles II, The World’s End Market is a culinary experience unlike any other. Their concept is simple, all their food is fresh and all the meat, fish and poultry is cooked the same way, by simply grill-searing it to lock in flavour. Alongside the main options you simply pick the produce that you like from what they have and the dedicated chefs prepare it for you right there on the spot.
As an avid seafood fan this restaurant is a dream, with choices including lobster, monkfish, seabass and yellow fin tuna there is always something delicious to try. To make things even better the lack of fuss means that the food you get is guaranteed to delight, things as simple as salmon which are now so widely available suddenly taste completely fresh and new when cooked without the fuss of many other restaurants.
For any steak fans out there you don’t get better than The World’s End Market, their permanent collaboration with world-famous meat connoisseur José Gordon has given them an edge that no other restaurant in the UK has. With everything from carpaccio to premium ox fillet there is no shortage of choice, even someone like me who sees steak as being particularly overrated must admit that this stuff is incredible.
As if fresh food, world-renowned meats and a centuries old foundation weren’t enough The World’s End Market also has an incredible bar. The Old Fashioned Bar is cozy, cocktail-centric and clad in reclaimed wooden crates. With a wide choice of whiskeys and cocktails, each with a unique World’s End twist, this bar is the perfect way to frame a night at The World’s End Market.
Colbert is a Parisian inspired bistro in the heart of Chelsea. Offering an incredible selection of wines, an effortlessly chic ambiance and one of the best people watching spots in the capital it is little surprise that Colbert is one of my favourite hangouts. Don your favourite pair of kitten heels, a tailored blue blazer and you could be forgiven for thinking your sat on a Parisian boulevard.
My recommendation for anyone visiting Sloane Square is to spend at least a couple of hours sat outside Colbert watching the world go by. The fact that you can do this with the help of pretty much any french wine you can think of only makes the idea more enticing. As with anywhere that offers an extensive wine selection there are options for a wallet of any size but the top wines do come with quite a hefty price tag.
I realise that many people, for whatever reason, do not like wine, however if there is ever a place to give it a try then it is at Colbert. With everything from Viognier to Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc and Pinot Noir to Cote Rotie there is an option for every budget, and every wine is guaranteed to be excellent quality.
Colbert may not stand out in the same way as other places I have recommended, but all I can say is that it possesses a quality that is difficult to put into words. There is something so effortlessly cool and fun about Colbert, a place where you can really watch the world go by and relax for a moment with friends. Colbert holds a lot of fond memories for me, perhaps that is one of the reasons it has made this list but nevertheless I am certain that if you give it a go you’ll be back for more every time you’re in the area.
The Saatchi Gallery is one of the most famous landmarks in Chelsea, however one of the best parts is also the most easily missed. The Gallery Mess, although expensive, is easily one of my favourite watering holes in London. With its grand surroundings and minimalist interior the bar feels like a direct continuation of the gallery itself.
There are two key reasons why I love the Gallery Mess: they make a mean Martini and they do sharing platters designed for one person. That being said, there is a lot on offer if you’re looking a really lovely evening of exquisite drinks and beautiful surroundings. The Gallery Mess is definitely another ‘Treat Yo Self’ location in the spirit of Parks & Recreation.
The drinks on offer at the Gallery Mess are varied, well-thought out and expertly made. With a small selection of classic cocktails including a whisky sour and a caipirinha as well as 4 types of champagne based cocktails there is sure to be something that tickles the taste buds. Along with this the Gallery Mess offers a wide selection of wines from around the world, with bottles ranging from £30 to more than £200 for the less economically restricted consumer.
However, the pièce de résistance are the pernod ricard martinis. With a range of styles including passion fruit, lychee and espresso the skill and precision of the bartenders makes for an exquisite drink. My personal favourite is the classic martini, pair this with one of the sharing plates, a beautiful summer evening and a table on the terrace and you’ve got a truly fabulous way to enjoy Chelsea.
Now about those bar snacks. As I said, anywhere that offers sharing plates is definitely on my Christmas card list, when they call those plates a bar snack I am even more excited. The Gallery Mess offers classic London bar snacks like sliders, olives and even a mini steak & chips but their crowning glory is the seafood plate: Citrus cured salmon, smoked mackerel pâté, smoked eel, peeled prawns, beach herbs and lemon crème fraîche all served with brown bread & seaweed butter.
Whilst I wouldn’t recommend the Gallery Mess as your casual weeknight watering hole, I would highly suggest checking it out next time you feel like splurging a little. I’m a big fan of pretending I’m much more glamorous and fancy than I really am and this is one of my favourite places to do it.
Italian taverna style interiors, vespa shaped drinking vessels and mesmerizing mixologists make Bar8 one of the best and most unusual experiences on the King’s Road. Situated inside Gastro Vino, an Italian tapas restaurant that deserves praise in its own right, is a bar whose sole focus is the art of mixology and all that comes with it.
Bar8 focuses on quality rather than quantity, its small cocktail menu might not have you’re favourite type of martini or that long island iced tea that you love, in fact you may not even have heard of half the ingredients they use…but boy do they know how to use them!
I’m not sure if it’s the cocktails, the cleverly chosen glasses they come in or the charm and finesse of the mixologists but there is something about Bar8 that exudes charm unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The confidence they have in their concoctions is well placed, for example why not try the Trifolato, a combination of vodka, porcini mushrooms, marsala wine, cacao cordial and crunchy polenta, sounds disgusting doesn’t it? It’s incredible.
I cannot claim to know whether it was through divine intervention, trial and error or an incredible palette but these guys know what they are doing when it comes to producing truly innovative and original drinks. As far as price is concerned, Bar8 is actually surprisingly reasonable, is it somewhere to go if you just want to get drunk? No, but if you’re looking for a great date or a night out with close friends that you’ll never forget then I can’t recommend Bar8 highly enough.
Best To Dos:
Duke of York Square Market:
Now I know this is cheating but because Duke of York Square Market isn’t technically a bar or a restaurant I’m counting it as a ‘to do’, even if the activity still revolves around food and drink. Sadly the day that I happened to visit and take pictures of the market was a classically grey and rainy London day.
Every Saturday Duke of York Square hosts an incredible food market offering everything from fresh oysters and champagne to tiny weeny doughnuts stuffed with all kinds of sumptuous delights. Even just walking around the market is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of cuisine from around the world, all being cooked right in front of your eyes.
The only real downside of the market is the fact that eventually you’re going to have to decide on what you actually want to eat. It’s easy to make the mistake of picking lots of things and ‘saving them for later’ but we all know it never tastes as good when you get it home. Whether you fancy a confit duck burger or freshly made sushi, flash-fried noodles or classic fish and chips there is guaranteed to be at least 10 things you’ll want to devour.
Obviously London is home to many famous markets and whilst Burrough and Camden might take the gold for the most famous and varied, sometimes you don’t want to have to wade through thousands of people just to pick up a pie.
Chelsea is one of my favourite places in London, whether you want world-renowned food and wine or simply to wander aimlessly around the immaculate streets of one of the capitals most picturesque neighborhoods, it’s an area that’s definitely worth a visit.
Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘A Queen’s Guide to London’ when I’ll be exploring the often overlooked area of Marylebone.
See you soon,