A good but pricey ‘eco-chippy’, from celeb-chef Tom Aikens, which offers a very handy Chelsea stand-by – just two minutes’ walk from a road (King’s) that’s always been infamously short of decent places to eat.
ote to reviewers everywhere: Chelsea is expensive. Most houses there cost £millions. The locals are not stuck for a bob or two. It is therefore no great surprise that Tom Aikens’s much-hyped new ‘sustainable’ chippy – in heart of said bijou quartier – is no bargain. Nor is it especially surprising that some of the customers might, in a rather facile way, be characterised as “Sloanes” (Evening Standard) or “braying” (Time Out). For the record, however, the clientèle on our lunchtime visit was neither notably Sloaney nor particularly braying. More Euro, if anything.
Some reviewers have objected to the sustainable fishing propaganda looping on the various TV screens around the restaurant, which seems to us to attack the wrong point. The right point is that TVs in eating places are invariably odious (and energy-wasting too). The ones here, however, are not especially intrusive – we read in another review that the staff have insisted on the sound being turned off – and we managed to ignore them.
So what’s left? Ah, yes, the ambience, the service and the food. The ambience of the place struck us as right for an informal quick eatery: it’s not especially comfortable – either on the stools downstairs, or on the hard chairs in the dining room above – but nor should it be expected so to be. And, let’s face it: anywhere you can have a tolerably civilised meal within spitting distance of the King’s Road for twenty quid a head has its uses. Service is amiable too. And as to the food? Well, we enjoyed it without finding it in any way startling, and it is indeed pretty fully priced.
Our guest raved about her pollock and chips, though we thought the fish portion looked small, and the chips were just a touch on the chewy side. Mushy peas were a universal crowd-pleaser, but a bowl of bouillabaisse – presented in a bowl with no ‘extras’ – lacked any sort of distinction: for £15, one could perhaps have expected a little more. A buttered roll – how very authentic – weighs in at £1.50.