The stereotype of Londoners being in a rush and always walking fast applies to most, if not all, boroughs in London. However, the time I spend in Kensington and Chelsea always sees me readjusting my stride for the more leisurely, relaxed rhythm of the West London refuge.
Yet, for the ambling pace one takes traversing down King’s Road, it is still possible to miss The Chelsea Pig, which is located a short walk from the main street at the corner of Old Church Street and Paultons Street.
The exterior is what you’d expect from any corner pub in England, albeit notably more manicured than the rundown village local. High colonial windows accompanied by seasonal foliage are quite unassuming, and if you do walk past, you simply think: pub.
However, once you step inside the curtained doors, you are immersed in a surprisingly luxurious but relaxed, bar and dining experience. Crystal chandeliers illuminate the path to the leather-chaired, marble-topped tables, and once seated, you feel immediately at ease.
There is a fine balance between an enjoyable luxury dining experience and one that feels uncomfortably pretentious. Thankfully, The Chelsea Pig is the former. Friendly but professional staff guide you through the seasonal and permanent dishes, offering advice about wine pairings and cocktails, and of course, whether to have the side of new potatoes or glazed carrots.
What to order?
On arrival, we sipped on the Charentais Fizz and Timmy cocktails. Both offer unique flavours, with the Charentais Fizz unlocking a depth of my palate that, until that point, I hadn’t known existed. For me, the clear winner was the Timmy, their take on the classic spicy margarita with an added kick of vetiver.
Starters: We had a combination of dressed crab, glazed fig salad, and the parmesan and artichoke custard. The most impressive was the fig salad, which we were most unsure about when ordering. Explosively sweet figs paired against more savoury dressing tossed in lettuce is a simple, but effective combination. The crab, paired with a lemon and pink peppercorn jelly, resulted in smiles of pleasure as it was consumed. Finally, was the parmesan and artichoke custard that came in a trophy filled with ice. Although it was a marvel to look at, it left something to be desired.
Mains: Monkfish tail with crispy serrano ham, barlotti beans and red wine sauce was a high quality dish that was cooked to perfection, although slightly tricky to eat when served in a deep-pot that had you reaching in until your elbows were almost swallowed. The other main we ordered was Hen of the Woods, which consisted of polenta and herb dumplings, celeriac and mushroom ketchup. It looked quite small when dished up, but offered a nourishing, filling combination of grains and root veg.
Desserts: At this point, we were struggling, debating whether the second, private stomach reserved for dessert would actually open up. But another glass of a crisp South African sauvignon blanc set us on the right path. We gorged on marmalade bread pudding and carrot cake crème brûlée. Be aware that the bread pudding says it can serve two, but is definitely capable of feeding a Dickensian household with some more to spare. A large dent was made, regardless. Paired with cinnamon ice cream, it was a delight to the taste buds. The crème brûlée was also bewitching, light and crisp, with the added element of carrot cake notes closing our meal perfectly.
What's the damage?
With starters ranging from £11 to £14, mains from £18-34, and desserts around the £9 mark, your wallet won’t be sapped.
Cocktails run average for this area, coming in at around £14. Everything is worth it for the quality.
Anything else to note?
Take a trip to the bathroom, a unique space where you will be serenaded with music coming from the speakers. Stage fright is no worry here.
Also, it won’t take long to notice the large fish tank with a Buzz Aldrin-like space explorer stuffed inside. A nice touch.
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35 Old Church St, London SW3 5BS; The Chelsea Pig