August 26, 2019
No. Fifty Cheyne, A Hidden Gem In the Heart Of Chelsea
Amongst a cluster of small, leafy streets overlooking the River Thames lies No. Fifty Cheyne – an elegant neighbourhood restaurant that combines an intimate dining space with a cosy upstairs bar and drawing room, in the heart of Old Chelsea.
Under its previous guise, the Cheyne Walk Brasserie, the popularity of this venue was undoubted. Owner Sally Greene (founding director of the Old Vic and owner of Ronnie Scott’s) commissioned a nine-month makeover that is aesthetically sumptuous as much as is akin to dining cosily at your (extremely) wealthy long-lost relatives country pile.
The exterior of the building retains the architectural impression of the one-time public house that 50 Cheyne once was. Once inside, the scene is a view to behold. Upon entering, the feel is that of stepping into a wonderland of sorts with mood and candlelight making for a fairytale-esque ambience. A large winding white blossom adorned tree stands proud just beyond the entrance. What would once have been the bar now houses an open kitchen where the chefs can be seen making culinary magic.
The warm and professional greeting upon our arrival set the tone for the overall service throughout the entire evening. Maître d, Benoit was efficient, friendly and sincere when escorting us to our table immediately ensuring that we had a glass of champagne in hand to start the evening and why not? Travelling across London in rush hour traffic is as good an excuse as any for Charles Heidsieck.
Upon entry, downstairs is a beautifully lit 70-seater restaurant with an open copper-riveted grill, chandeliers and plush but comfortable seating. Upstairs houses an opulent cocktail bar and a very welcoming Drawing Room whereby you can enjoy pre or post dinner drinks and a selection of light bites from an alternative menu.
No. 50 Cheyne has a ‘hidden gem’ attraction factor and feel of a fine-dining equivalent of an upmarket local, that might well have the locals wishing that they could keep it to themselves. To be honest, we wouldn’t blame them.
Head Chef Iain Smith – whose CV includes The Ledbury, Le Petit Maison, Berners Tavern and Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House – has crafted a menu that centres itself around seasonal fine British ingredients, and offers a set of mouth-watering options that cater for a range of dietary requirements and indecisive minds.
Our waiter kindly recommended food based on our individual tastes and hunger levels, which proved helpful. For starters we ordered the scallop and langoustine with squid ink black rice and champagne sauce, which was as deliciously decadent as it sounds. The scallops were cooked to absolute perfection and melt in the mouth and the rice was cooked the right side of al dente.
My partner had the smoked salmon, which we were informed would shortly be replaced by a similar dish with a summer twist.
The salmon was a smaller starter than the scallops but had great flavour. His only complaint being that he could have happily eaten the dish twice.
The mains menu though consisting of seven dishes offered something for everyone. My companion said he would have been happy with any of the options but a hearty appetite led him to rib-eye steak (provided by one of Fifty Cheyne’s trusted suppliers, Lake District Farmers – giving farmers a fair price) with the creamed spinach (finely chopped, with a hint of nutmeg) and the highly recommended beef fat chips which were light and fluffy on the inside despite their vast size. It has to be noted this does not appear to be a culinary skill possessed by most establishments.
The steak was cooked medium and full of flavour, the quality of the meat was evident and barely required the accompaniment of a sauce. The suggestion of an Argentinian Malbec to compliment the dish was a masterstroke, even for (former) non-red wine consumer. The wine was fruity with a hint of black cherry but full bodied enough to compliment the steak.
I decided on the hake with peas and broad beans with a side of creamy mashed potato. Again, the fish was beautifully seasoned and accompanied by a beautiful white wine sauce. Celery and fruit added a sweetness that worked incredibly well with the fish. Although the flavour of garlic was prominent it was not overpowering and provided a perfect balance with the meaty white fish.
I ordered a glass of Sancerre, a quality wine unfortunately not a staple on many wine lists. Upon returning from a recent wine tasting trip in the Loire Valley, it was no surprise that the fresh, light and fruity wine was from the very same region.
With very content palates we were invited upstairs to the drawing room to enjoy cocktails and dessert.
The décor was traditional luxe and cosy with the feel of retiring to friend’s living room and a home from home.
We were recommended the delectably presented hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, which my companion thoroughly enjoyed. I went for the caramelised puff pastry, poached rhubarb, sorbet and rippled Chantilly, also beautifully presented. This was a crisp, light desert reminiscent of a mille feuille.
After being asked about our taste in cocktails we were recommended a couple that were easily some of the best that can be found in London. I went for the Banana Canonazo – ok two, it was so good I decided the second was required just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, of course.
Made with Havana 3 year old rum, Yellow Chartreuse, lime, sugar and a banana foam that wouldn’t look out of place in science lab, the Canonazo was a cocktail that lived up to the hype and could be described as sunshine in a cocktail glass. The foam held the sweetness and banana flavour whilst the drink below was citrusy and sharp. The flavour and texture combination worked well.
My partner tried All The King’s Men, a whisky based cocktail with pineapple and pink peppercorn shrub. Not usually a whisky fan, we found this drink easy on the palate, the sweetness of the pineapple making for a whisky based cocktail which would appeal even to those who aren’t particularly big on whisky.
The third cocktail choice was the nearest drink on the menu to an espresso martini, The Scottish Connection. Also whisky based, had a good consistency. The vanilla and mint added a sweet freshness to the drink, again a great whisky cocktail.
We were impressed but not surprised to discover that the cocktails were made completely from scratch including the banana foam. It was also nice to hear from the barman that each of the cocktails on the menu has been created and named by a member of staff.
As the last people standing, we had the pleasure of meeting Iain, the man responsible for our heavenly gastro experience. His passion for high quality food was evident. After a long day of cooking and overseeing staff, Iain, clearly a man who loves what he does, still had energy to indulge us in conversation about his impressive background, the history of 50 Cheyne and make us laugh.
We left 50 Cheyne on a cloud of contentment. Everything about our experience met and exceeded expectations and we are very much looking forward to returning.
A: 50 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London SW3 5LR
T: 020 7376 8787
W: No.. Fifty Cheyne
Written by Brenda Gabriel for Luxuria Lifestyle UK & Ireland