We were invited to the newly opened No.Fifty Cheyne recently and were delighted to explore this side of Chelsea. As we meandered our way through the beautiful streets of Old Chelsea on our way to dine at the smart new Brassiere and grill restaurant, we were keen to see the changes from it’s previous incarnation, Chelsea Brassiere, a former stalwart for Chelsea residents and Londoners in the know.
Located on the Thames on the Chelsea Embankment, the restaurant has been renovated by Sally Greene, theatre impresario and owner of Ronnie Scott’s. Greene has taken her former Cheyne Walk Brasserie and transformed it into an elegant, grown-up space lovingly restored with sympathetically kept features such as the open grill in the heart of the restaurant. She has also adduced a modern twist and further sense of opulence with a stunning room of beautifully plush seating with palatial crystal chandelier in the centre of the dining room.
Arriving we were greeted by the Head Waiter, we then walked into the restaurant and were shown to the bar to enjoy a much needed cocktail of our choice made by the charming and well prepared bar team of Javier from Bolivia, Olly from Latvia and Gerard from Tonga via London. This team can make any cocktail of your choice or guests can choose from an extensive and inspired cocktail list and wine menu. The wine cellar has an impressive selection of old and new world wines, served by the glass, carafe or bottle. We enjoyed a chilled glass of rose and a fresh sharp Margarita.
We arrived around 6.30pm and the restaurant was just beginning to come alive as guests started to arrive. By 7.00pm we were at our table and the tables around us were also starting to fill up. The staff were very discreet and it was not until later in the evening that we spotted a few well known locals dining alongside us including the eminent Sir Michael Caine and Mr. Brian Ferry of Roxy Music.
The Maître’ D Benoit, now settled in London, originally from Normandy is swanlike on his second evening of service, seeing everything and deftly managing his team, while recommending dishes to us to try from the main menu and also the impressive grill. The Grill is a work of art in itself with its own dedicated Grill Chef, whom also happens to be the happiest chef in London with a smile from ear to ear at all times; someone obviously loves his job!
The menu has been created by Executive Head Chef Iain Smith, one of Jason Atherton’s protégées, and pays attention to classic French cuisine with a modern twist using creative sauces and pairings with seasonal British produce. While sipping our aperitif of Rose wine and Margaritas (a very well made Margarita I hasten to add) we pour over the extensive a la carte menu options, the classic cuts and dishes prevail but with delicate twists.
My dining companion and I opted to try different dishes and flavours for the meal, and before our first course we were served a beautiful amuse bouche with a glass of champagne. The menu we learn from Head Chef Iain Smith is seasonal and locally sourced ingredients where possible, he has used imaginative and quality ingredients to put his menu together and it shows, as everything sounds decadently tasty. The a la Carte menu is split into starters, mains and a grill section or “To share” section. We chose a classic style dish of Scallop and langoustine with squid ink black rice and champagne sauce, with a glass of Chablis and my companion chose a Snail and black pudding vol-au-vent, parsley and garlic served with the same Chablis. The starters using British ingredients but French recipes; the divine snails were enveloped in a rich green garlicky sauce, and the scallops float next to a cloud of delicate and sumptuous champagne mousse sauce.
For the main course I chose from the Grill section of the menu, a succulent and tender veal served black and blue with a bone marrow sauce and glass of Malbec, it may be the best piece of veal I’ve ever had. We also took a Native lobster, soft leeks and romanesco with lobster bisque paired with a glass of Pinot Noir, the lobster was perfectly cooked and slightly al dente with a rich bisque that was full of flavour. We also ordered sides of spinach and broccoli, which were flavoursome and cooked well.
Benoit comes back to our table and pays us further attention on the wines we just had and what he suggests for pudding. We were encouraged to opt for Sauternes, and who could refuse a charming Frenchman! Benoit also suggested we try a cheese platter and share a caramelised puff pastry, poached rhubarb, with sorbet and rippled Chantilly, we could naturally only oblige his proposition. The cheese selection was delicious however the real star was the rhubarb puff pastry, a beautifully created dessert that was so quintessentially British in flavour. To finish our evening Benoit suggested we head to the bar to finish our glass of Sauternes and try a final Digestif to relax and finish our evening off. The bar team were keen to impress and we decided to ask for their recommendations, which ensured some fun of a ‘battle of the cocktails’ between Bolivia and Latvia and some interesting creations indeed!
If you are looking for a local restaurant with all the class and talent of a central fine dining affair then you cannot go far wrong with No.Fifty Cheyne. We had a fabulous evening and have returned back several times since, so if you find yourself in Chelsea make sure to visit you will not regret it.
No. Fifty Cheyne
50 Cheyne Walk