New ventures by established restaurateurs almost invariably exhibit the latters’ ‘DNA’: starting from your knowledge of an operator’s previous ventures, you can usually make a pretty shrewd guess what new offerings are going to be like. The new incarnation of the Chelsea townhouse long known as Dan’s, however, seems to be an exception to this general rule: it is very much better than the ‘parent’ establishment, Carpaccio, at the other end of the street.
The relaunched site (which has a very pretty garden) maintains a fairly traditional decorative style (Ã la Dan’s), presumably so as not to startle the rather mature following which has long regarded the place as a sort of second home. The new look, is much brighter, though, and may help broaden its appeal, in an area that – with the opening of nearby Tom’s Kitchen – looks set to become much trendier.
The staff – in classic Chelsea mould – are chatty and arguably slightly over-familiar Italians, and the reasonably-priced wine list is largely Italian too. The menu, however, is essentially a comforting take on ‘modern British’ (if sometimes with a bit of an Italianate twist). You might expect that the competing styles would create a bit of a dog’s dinner, but everything comes together remarkably well.
In fact, our meal was never less than thoroughly enjoyable, and at times very good indeed. There is a reasonably-priced set lunch menu (which includes such slightly unusual dishes as pigeon ‘n’ polenta) but, for once, it’s the Ã la carte which offers top value. From the latter, all main courses weigh in at just £14, and the attraction of, say, a meltingly luscious portion of beef for this price is really very difficult to argue with. Save space for pudding, though – they look good, and taste even better.