Home Food & DrinkRestaurants Pub Food Indulgence at The Chelsea Pig

Pub Food Indulgence at The Chelsea Pig

by Neil Davey

Timothy Oulton’s name is all over SW3’s latest gastropub, The Chelsea Pig. It was on the advance publicity info, it’s on the menu… I kept meaning to look up his name because, well, it was a chef I hadn’t heard of. And with very good reason. He’s not a chef. Timothy Oulton, it transpires, is a designer. Yeah, alright, you knew, I didn’t. I write about food and indulgence, not furniture and colour schemes, alright? Sheesh.

As you can imagine then, the appearance of The Chelsea Pig is rather funky, from the massive chandeliers to the diver in the massive fish tank in the far corner, via the original wooden floor and the ultramodern bar shelving. And, somehow, it works. Well, certainly for this corner of Chelsea it works – your average Wetherspoons is not going this way any time soon – and, happily, for those seeking substance not just style, it also works, due to its admirably concise menu, confident cooking and, particularly, the very charming, informative and well-informed team.

Pub grub indulgence at its finest

And sure, it’s been interior designed to within an inch of its life but it still works as a pub… just. Most of the floor space has been given over to tables (and the aforementioned fish tank) but there are a few stools around the bar, and a handful of beers on draft, so you could pop in for just a pint…

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Although you may – read “will” – be tempted by the menu. Head Chef Fionnan Flood comes to The Chelsea Pig via the likes of Maze Grill, Lindsay House, Arts Club and Riding House Café – and his original inspiration, his mother and grandmother in County Wicklow. His food here reflects all the above – classic dishes and comfort eating, given a SW3-worthy twist – in portions that are more pub than fine dining. So much so, that a computer error that meant our starters didn’t get ordered saved us from our gluttony and indulgence.

Starters and small plates to dig into

We did get some snacky Small Plates though, as should you. “Ancient” loaf was lighter than the name makes it sound, and the accompanying “chef’s butter” simply means that Flood plays around with the butter regularly. On our visit, it was honey mustard butter and on an indulgence level, a very nicely balanced thing, too. That combo hinted heavily at what was to follow, with sweet and savoury as an ongoing, and mostly successful, theme.

Salt & Pepper Scampi was a fine update on a pub and chip shop staple, with a nod to Chinese takeaways: five crispy battered bits of seafood, under a heap of interesting, crunchy, occasionally very spicy fried bits. Glamorgan pork croquettes, with toffee apple sauce were equally good: nuggets of slow-cooked moist pork, lightly coated and served alongside a sweet, fruity dip. It’s a great bar snack and, for the quality/portion, £9 makes this foodie indulgence an absolute bargain.

THE CHELSEA PIG FOOD MENU CREDIT CHARLIE MCKAY

Main territory: Large dishes at The Chelsea Pig

Mains are a strong mix of the crowd-pleasing and the slightly different. There’s a steak, a burger, fish and chips for a selection of no-nonsense pub gub indulgence, plus lamb breast – with spring vegetable medley, minted salsa verde, champ – and a spatchcock baby chicken, coronation marinade, apricot puree, flaked almond for something more elevated (and, in the case of the latter, royally-themed).

We shared the hearty Suffolk T-Bone Pork Chop – exactly as it says on the tin – with an accompanying sauce of maple syrup and rosemary yoghurt and, best of all, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, with polenta and herb dumplings, celeriac and mushroom ketchup, a plate of great textures and deep umami flavours. The side of mac and cheese – truffled, topped with hazelnuts, and great for indulgence – is also a winner.

I’m not always a pudding person but, according to Ross, our man on the floor, who’d expertly, enthusiastically and amusingly guided us through the menu all night, our lives would mean nothing without the Treacle Tart. And he was right. Sweet deity-of-your-choice he was right. It’s a sticky, crunchy, sweet, rich, no-nonsense slice of a thing, with a marmalade-like sauce that takes the edge off and keeps you coming back for more. Like I say, not always a pudding person but I’d detour for a piece anytime I was in the vicinity. Peppermint crème brulee was an interesting one, possibly in the euphemistic sense.

I will argue blindly that crème brulee needs no twists and the first spoonful seemed to confirm this long-held belief. The peppermint flavour was remarkably intense and true but Ross’s promise that it was like an After Eight seemed misjudged. A second spoonful though got a little of the accompanying Valrhona chocolate ice cream and suddenly the dish made a lot more sense. It’s not my thing – doubly so with that treacle tart in front of me – but I wouldn’t judge you for ordering and finishing it. Not now, anyway.

THE CHELSEA PIG FOOD MENU CREDIT CHARLIE MCKAY 1
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Prices are remarkably keen – for London, not just the postcode – and portion sizes are also generous. “Bargain” wasn’t a word I expected to use to describe a Chelsea gastropub but it is. “If you liked this, you’ve got to come back for Sunday lunch,” raved Ross and colleague. And you know what? I rather suspect I will. The Chelsea Pig is a very solid performer.

The Chelsea Pig
35 Old Church Street
London
SW3 5BS
United Kingdom

Author

  • Neil Davey

    Neil is a former private banker turned freelance journalist. He’s also a trained singer, a former cheesemonger, once got paid to argue with old women about the security arrangements at Cliff Richard concerts and almost worked with a cross-dressing wine importer. He now basically eats for a living but, judging by the state of his shirts, isn’t very good at it.

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