Test Drives

aperitivoKicking things off with Aperol Spritz

What’s new?

The iconic Chelsea restaurant has a fresh new look and a new menu, courtesy of chef Liam Smith-Laing (100 Wardour St, Pétrus, Skylon).

The stunning building has been refurbished with bold red steel framework, bright fabrics from British designer Celia Birtwell, and lush greenery growing between the tables - all highlighting the central atrium which remains a glorious feature of the dining area. The bar area has also been revamped and expanded with a similarly luxurious feel, centred around a marble curved bar.

Where is it?

Smack bang in the middle of the King’s Road, of course. Still holding its own alongside newer venues such as the Ivy Chelsea Garden and Chicama.

The nearest stations are Sloane Square and Fulham Broadway, both of which are a good 20 minute walk away (or 10 minutes by bus). Alternatively, you can avoid the crush on the underground by travelling along the river – the Thames Clipper (from Canary Wharf or Embankment) will take you to Cadogan Pier, just a 10 minute stroll from the restaurant. Far more civilised.

scallopsQueen scallops, chorizo and apple

Where can I meet friends for a drink first?

There are plenty of places to choose from along the King’s Road, but why not start as you mean to go on at the Bluebird’s revamped bar. The cocktail list combines unique flavours and fun names which play on the restaurant’s location and origins as a motor garage. You can also get small sharing plates in the bar area, if a more relaxed evening of socialising and grazing is what you’re after.

Where’s the best seat in the house?

The redesigned restaurant is attractive from all angles (both the décor and the clientele), and had a great buzz even earlier in the evening, getting louder and busier as the night went on.

Choose a table by the window if you want to look over the King’s Road and Bluebird’s courtyard downstairs. Larger groups can take over large banquettes, spread across the room – perfect for people watching. There are also four private dining rooms for functions.

squidFried baby squid, chilli and lime

What can I expect from the food?

The new menu has a Mediterranean influence but retains the Bluebird’s classic British charm. You can stick to small plates if you want to sample a bit of everything. There’s a selection of salads, seafood and more classic starters like oysters and steak tartare, with prices ranging from £6.50-£13.50 a plate. You can also share a whole turbot, served with artichokes and basil (£44) – which comes recommended by the chef.

gnocchiHomemade gnocchi with nduja, fontina and fresh basil

What should I order?

After nibbling on some bread and olives to accompany an aperitif, we started by sharing fried baby squid with chilli and lime (£6.50) and queen scallops with chorizo and apple (£12) – both fresh, vibrant and a perfect balance of flavours.

Mains are divided up into meat, fish, steaks and pasta. The two dishes we had, and would highly recommend: homemade gnocchi with spicy nduja and fontina (£12.50) which melted in the mouth, and roast baby chicken with tarragon and lemon (£14.50) accompanied by smooth, garlicky potato puree (£3).

Desserts, much like the rest of the menu, were uncomplicated but indulgent and perfectly executed. We had the roasted apple crumble with sauterne and grape ice cream, and salted caramel profiteroles with pistachio ice cream (£6 each). Both thoroughly enjoyable.

profiterolesProfiteroles with salted caramel creme patissiere and pistachio ice cream.

And what’s on the wine list?

The extensive list spans the globe and all price points, with glasses from £4.50; carafes; half bottles (‘little birds’ – from £17.50) and ‘big birds’ – 3 litre bottles stretching all the way up to £239. There’s a section dedicated to ‘natural wines’ from artisan producers, as well as a choice of champagnes and sparkling, dessert wines and brandies.

The house sommelier will help you choose a wine to match your meal. We were recommended a fruity French Viognier which complemented both main dishes perfectly.

Overall

Whether it’s been a while since you last visited the Bluebird, or you’ve never quite got round to it, now’s the time - the new design and menu are both well worth checking out. Enjoy a leisurely meal in a vibrant setting which doesn’t compromise on style or substance. It’s sure to remain a Chelsea stalwart for a long time yet.

Bluebird is at 350 King's Road, London SW3 5UU. Find out more about Bluebird

Hot Dinners were invited to Bluebird. Prices are correct at the time of writing.

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