The Penny Black Restaurant is the latest addition to the Chelsea Beach, which is an already busy restaurant strip on the Fulham Road. So when invited to dine here, I couldn’t help but ask myself what else could this street have to offer?
The great British dish that time forgot is the ethos behind The Penny Black Restaurant. And with offerings such as Beef Wellington and Arctic Roll, there is also the added promise that you won’t taste these traditional dishes better anywhere else.
As we stepped into the restaurant with its almost blacked out windows and its fine dining atmosphere of tablecloths and a reception desk, the essence of quality was very much stamped on the interior of this intimate dining space. The experience did not evoke the feeling of going back to school as insinuated by the menu on the outside wall. And so quickly, the thought of eating school dinners on Fulham Road quickly dissipated as I opened the menu and saw the guilty pleasures that were being offered.
For starters, I decided to ease myself into the experience and ordered the Monkfish Salad accompanied by a Dirty Martini. My guest decided to throw himself in at the deep end. He ordered the Corned Beef Hash with Duck Egg and Pickled Onions as he sipped on the rest of his Champagne. The point of the Corned Beef was to choose something he hated and to see what the restaurant could do with it. The Penny Black Restaurant passed with flying colours. Meanwhile, the point of my Monkfish Salad was to start off lightly in anticipation of my heavy looking main and choice of dessert. And herein a problem called food envy arose. Whilst my Monkfish Salad was good, I could hear the Corned Beef Has calling out to me. The Penny Black Restaurant managed in one dish to convert two corned beef sceptics suddenly into huge fans.
Next up was the Paddington Duck with Marmalade Gravy, Chicken Stock Potatoes and Cauliflower Cheese, which didn’t disappointed. The duck was cooked to perfection and was perfectly accompanied by the marmalade gravy. The potatoes and cauliflower cheese were deceptively light and not overpowering in their flavours. My guest had the Oxtail Stew, which he described as sumptuous, toothsome and wholesome. Both dishes were finished off easily.
Desserts followed and not reluctantly. We had the Bread and Butter Pudding with the addition of Vanilla Ice Cream and Rice Pudding with Strawberry Jam. Again, the Bread and Butter Pudding was wonderfully light whilst the Rice Pudding was a tad heavier but still delicious as it carried a touch of cinnamon.
For our wine we chose a bottle of Rioja that perfectly complimented our dishes. Each sip invited a rich aroma to add to the delicious experience. What is also great about the wine menu is its design: the wines are categorised by taste to assist the diner with their choice. The cocktail service was also impeccable. It felt good to not have to look at a menu as my request for a Dirty Martini was dealt with confidently and effortlessly. The Dirty Martini arrived respectably dirty.