It’s the Christmas party time of year. A good excuse to get frocked up and eat and drink too much. Last weekend my friend Alice arranged a Christmas catch up for 3o girls at the Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea. She had booked the private mezzanine room but due to a mix up they double booked the room and so our group was seated in the main dining area. It didn’t matter too much but it was just the first of a few service issues at the Bluebird that took a bit of the Christmas fizz out of our meal.
The Bluebird is housed in quite a large hotel complex just off King’s road in Chelsea. Downstairs is a shop containing lots of overpriced but gorgeous goods and upstairs is a vast restaurant and bar area which seats up to 230 people. The space is modern and very bright thanks to the atrium above and has an achingly expensive looking fitout.
As a large group we ordered from a set price menu of three courses for £45. This was another case of a Christmas rip off given that the usual set lunch menu is £21. Head chef Mark Block’s menu features a selection of traditional British dishes but there is also quite a heavy French influence.
Retro must be making a come back as the entree selection featured a classic 1970’s style prawn cocktail. A cocktail glass filled with prawns and brown shrimp and drowned in a marie rose sauce was too heavy and soggy. The jamon persillé was a pig lovers dream with hunks of ham packed beneath a layer of parsley and aspic. It was meaty and flavoursome but the serving size was far too big for an entree (not usually a complaint of mine) and I don’t think anyone at our table could finish it.
I was pleased to see that even on a set price menu, the Bluebird included their scotch rib eye as an option. The meat was perfectly cooked to a medium rare blush pink with a great smoky, chargrilled flavour. The steak was served with a huge portobello mushroom and tomato and came with its own basket of crunchy chips and pot of béarnaise sauce. Of the other options, the lemon sole was served as a modestly sized fillet rather than a whole fish and splashed with a creamy sauce of champagne and chive velouté.
Block’s menu was at its best when it came to desserts. The mont blanc with chestnut and rum cream, meringue and chocolate sauce was a fluffy, whimsical concoction plated stylishly. While a little plainer in appearance, the nougat glacé was a triumph, filled with hazlenuts and pistachios and served with a sharp raspberry coulis.
Despite finishing our meal on a sugar high, my lasting memory is of the quite indifferent service we received. I am not sure whether we had the waiting B team but we constantly had to ask for water and wine to be refilled, and when it came to the end of lunch we were rudely hurried off our table “to reset for dinner”. At this stage of the afternoon the restaurant was fairly empty and there were plenty of other tables available if people had wanted to sit down already for dinner. I can understand that the waiters had to set up for dinner but given that as a group we had just spent a fairly significant sum of money I think they could have given us a little more leeway to leave at our leisure.
Details: 350 Kings Road, Chelsea SW3 5UU (Ph 020 7559 1000) Tube: South Kensington
I think a better option in the area is the nearby Cheyne Walk Brasserie or for something more relaxed try Jak’s cafe.