Having undergone a £2m refurbishment, the iconic Bluebird Chelsea, owned by D&D London, has reopened its doors on the Kings Road and the new look restaurant and bar is certainly worth the wait.
Built in 1923, this Art Deco building was originally designed as a garage for the Bluebird Motor Company, to house cars driven by record-breaker Sir Malcom Campbell among others, and this heritage echoes throughout the redesign.
The new interior, designed by the famed Sagrada, features freshly painted deep red steelwork wrapped in climbing plants, wild grasses and herbs, vibrant Celia Birtwell fabrics and intriguing furniture and artworks. A large central marble-topped bar made from stacked stainless steel car bumpers boasts an impressive cocktail and spirit list and features kooky mini petrol pumps which serve Aged Old Fashioned and Aged Negroni cocktails.
The restaurant retains its large windows overlooking the street – the perfect place to bask in the sun, cocktail in hand, and gaze at the great and good of Chelsea – and there are also four private dining rooms, as well as a dedicated events space.
Newly appointed Executive Chef Liam Smith-Laing has created a classic modern European menu, while sommelier Branislav Vilimanovic has compiled a well-considered wine list, imaginatively divided by style rather than region.
My guest and I shared two starters; fried baby squid with chilli and lime, and queen scallops which was easily the standout dish. Served beautifully in their shells, the deliciously rich scallops with crisp chorizo were beautifully complimented by the tiny bursts of fresh, crisp apple.
For main course my partner went for fillet steak with chips and green peppercorn chimichurri (think relish rather than sauce) which he thoroughly enjoyed, while I chose mackerel with borlotti beans and pancetta. Comforting and delicious, the super fresh mackerel was cooked to perfection. These bold flavours were paired perfectly with a slightly chilled pinot noir, expertly suggested by Branislav.
He has a particular passion for natural wines from lesser-known producers and his wine shop in the basement of the food store downstairs is definitely worth a visit. Here you will find over 750 wines to suit all tastes and budgets and he also holds bi-monthly tasting events in-store.
For dessert I chose vanilla crème brûlée, which came with a punchy spiced blackberry compote and a beautifully buttery shortbread biscuit, while my partner chose profiteroles with salted caramel crème and pistachio ice cream, and devoured every last morsel.
Bluebird Chelsea retains all the laid back comfort and friendliness you would expect from a neighbourhood restaurant, but delivers it on a grand scale. Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the restaurant – one of D&D London‘s most successful venues – and this fresh new look and re-imagined menu is a suitably fitting way to celebrate.