Over the last week I’ve made it to three Christmas parties and my favourite was Bluebird’s Winter Palace party, which took place in a marquee on the Bluebird forecourt. The venue was a cocoon of whiteness and lights whilst the Belvedere vodka cocktails and delicious canapés were being served. Great fun!
Yet as the Christmas party season sweeps me along, I’ve also started to reflect back on the year as it draws to a close. My latest thought bubble was inspired by a recent online discussion about the correlation between the affluence of Chelsea and the number good restaurants available, or lack of.
There were a few amusing opinions expressed, such as the local residents’ penchant for school dinners rather than so-called serious food along with the suggestion that Chelsea’s apparent ladies-who-lunch should be able to prop up the local businesses with their fine dining. And whilst my initial response was reactionary (just as any Londoner would jump to the defence of their home turf), I did wonder later on why other factors such as the landlords’ rates weren’t entertained.
Chelsea has lost many of its local gems because of that simple factor called rent increase, which must give stalwarts such as Chelsea Bun and La Famiglia something to celebrate; perhaps business developers aren’t bidding for their spots just yet.
It’s also worth remembering that Chelsea isn’t just a place for the rich. There is an abundance of social housing within the area and so local restaurants such as Chelsea Kitchen make eating out accessible to all.
As for the overpriced menus that don’t deliver, it’s just a matter of time. These places simply don’t survive because the locals won’t support them; the classic example being Earl Cadagon’s apparent decision to close down Oriel because he didn’t enjoy his meal and found it too pricey.
Still, there is one thing to look forward to next year: Picasso’s return. The locals will be getting one of King’s Road’s institutions back and I for one can’t wait.