It’s Show time

picture of Chelsea Flower Show

Next week marks the beginning of the Chelsea Flower Show, an event synonymous not only with beautiful (and sometimes not-so-beautiful) gardens but also with the début of the Great British Summer. Alan Titchmarsh may have been sidelined by the Beeb this year (in favour of Monty Don), but hopefully all other traditions will remain intact. Tips for nearby dining? Look no further…


Special flower show menus and drinks…

Seven Park Place SW1

William Drabble’s celebrated St James’s restaurant will launch a new menu and cocktail list next week. As well as garden-inspired dishes like terrine of sweet and sour beetroot and white asparagus, morels and crispy celeriac, diners can sip three signature floral concoctions – the Jasmine Buttercup, Elderflower & Basil Spray and Flower of Scotland.

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picture of Gallery Mess

Gallery Mess SW3

Handily located off Sloane Square, the Saatchi Gallery canteen is offering a new menu ‘inspired by the English garden’. Two or three courses together with a glass of wine or cocktail cost £22.50 and £28.50 respectively. Dishes include chilled pea and watercress soup with rose petal cream and melon salad with citrus and nasturtium dressing.

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Bring your show ticket to this restaurant and bar on Chelsea’s ‘Beach’ and receive a complimentary second floral cocktail when you buy either The Rozanne (gin, jasmine syrup, plum bitters and egg white) or the Blossom Negroni (G’Vine Floraision gin, Cocchi Americano, served with an edible flower). Both cost £10 and were specially created in honour of the show.

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The Henry Root SW10

Chelsea’s popular neighbourhood hang-out will mark the occasion with a special supper club hosted by Sipsmith Gin. The ‘botanical inspired feast’ will take place on Thursday 22 May at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £50 per person and include a cocktail on arrival, three courses and the opportunity to taste a range of Sipsmith gins.

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picture of Le Poule au Pot

Harden’s recommends…

The old faithful

La Poule au Pot SW1


“Home of Gallic cuisine, and amour” – for over half a century, this “rustic” charmer (with its candle-light and “dark nooks”), on a Pimlico corner, has been one of London’s top choices for romance; on the food front, the prix-fixe lunch offers particularly “amazing” value.

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The Sloane Square hideaway

Le Cercle SW1


Hidden-away in a (deep) basement near Sloane Square, this Gallic venture is “a class act”, serving “small plates with surprising flavour combinations”; the “subtle lighting and drapes” can make it “unbeatably romantic”, but when it’s “quiet” (perhaps more often of late?), the ambience can be rather “subdued”.

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Especially handy

Tinello SW1


“Meaty and hearty” Tuscan food “with a nice light touch” combines with “very friendly and efficient” service to make this “elegant”, Locatelli-backed Pimlico Italian a major hit; if there’s a quibble it’s that it can feel a tad “subdued”.

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picture of Bontanist

The Botanist SW1


Throughout next week this Sloane Square hub will host a champagne and oyster ‘poppy-up’, sponsored by Joseph Perrier. A glass of Brut Cuvée Royale will cost £9, while the bottle is £55. The Botanist will donate £5 from every bottle sold to The Royal British Legion. Plus freshly-shucked oysters at £2.50 apiece.

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The Five Fields SW3


“The most assured new opening” of recent times, say fans – this Chelsea newcomer (on the site of El Blason, RIP) is “a great addition to the London scene” – the interior is “beautiful” (if quite tightly-packed) and service “attentive”; ex-NYC chef Taylor Bonnyman’s “very interesting” dishes deliver some “mind-blowing” flavours too. Next week they open an hour early for dinner at 5pm to accommodate show-goers, and there are edible flowers on the menu too. 

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For great value

Côte SW1


“Usually reliable”, this “accommodating” and “buzzy” Gallic brasserie chain makes an ideal “standby”, and one offering “value for money” too, especially at lunch (and early-evening); Richard Caring, le patron, has just made a(nother) mint, selling the business to a private equity firm.” Head to its handy Sloane Square outpost.

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