Pubs

Pub-Food

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

  Edith Sitwell

The Builders Arms is one of my favourite pubs in Chelsea. It sits on one side of St. Luke’s Gardens whilst my first school sits on the other side. And for me, it is the perfect wintry pub in London. Nestled on a back street behind the King’s Road, this pub feels like a home away from home. It’s cosy and serves up good hearty meals as well as fine wines.

Last week’s bloggers’ food and wine matching evening was a celebration of what works so well for The Builders Arms. With the wine being selected by Ellis of Richmond and the menu carefully prepared by the pub’s fabulous chef, I was finally ready to settle into the mood of winter feasting.

The menu included …

Quail “Hindle Wake” matched with Roaring Meg Pinot Gris 2011, Central Otago, NZ

Brandade of Salt Cod & Potato matched with Gavi di Gavi’ Ca do Bosio Single Vineyard’ 2011 Piedmont, Italy

Roast Saddle of Mutton Stuffed with Sweets Breads, Seared Giroles, Dripping Scones & Pan Gravy Watercress Salad matched with Tinto Roble Tempranillo, Bodega Vina Vilano 2011 Ribera del Duero, Spain and Sangiovese Cabernet, Ripa delle Mandorle 2011, Tuscany, Italy

And finally …

Eccles Cake, Shorrocks Lancashire Bomb matched with Muscat Beaumes de Venise, Vidal Fleury, France

Who would have thought that you could match an Eccles cake with a slice of cheese but it does absolutely work. Admittedly, it crossed my mind that a large slice of ice cream was on the plate instead of the Lancashire Bomb but I discovered soon enough that Eccles cake and cheese was in fact a delightful pairing – and quite moreish! 

Whilst we were sipping, scoffing and chatting away that night, Geronimo Inns also won Pub Company of the Year at the R200 Awards. *Cheers guys and congratulations!*

Another great excuse to pop into The Builders Arms is to take time out from shopping on the King’s Road. I, for one, love escaping there – as much as I love the hibernating feeling of being holed up in a pub with a glass of red and some good pub grub on a winter’s evening. True winter bliss!

13 Britten Street, Chelsea, London SW3 3TY. 020 7349 9040.

Once upon a time, King’s Road was lined with banks. You didn’t have to run a few blocks to get to the nearest cashpoint machine because they sat on most corners. But now, most of them are gone as high street chains and estate agents have moved in.

There also used to be a pub called The Ifield, which I always loved going to. I remember once standing at the bar and listening to Hugh Grant chatting up a woman on a stool and I remember once getting back from a winter in the sun holiday to find my favourite actor from Home and Away working behind the bar. It was that kind of place: low-key but full of wonderful surprises and a real local’s haven.

Sadly The Ifield has been converted into flats. At first I was shocked to see my favourite pub become a residential property but it seems that developers are keen to turn more of Chelsea’s gems into homes.

The latest pubs at risk are The Phene and most urgently, Chelsea’s oldest pub: The Cross Keys.

The Cross Keys is located in between the King’s Road and Cheyne Walk. It is 300 years old and the developers who own it are appealing to overturn the council’s decision to forbid planning permission, which would allow the pub to be converted into a home.

With just under two weeks to go until the appeal hearing, there is a petition going around which you can sign here. You can also follow updates on how the petition is doing via Twitter.

Chelsea has already lost a lot of its unique charm at the hands of property developers. For example, Chelsea College of Art which alongside the Royal Academy of Art was responsible for making the King’s Road cool in the sixties, has now moved to Pimlico. And more estate agents are moving into the area in their hungry lust for profit.

But as a Chelsea Girl, since I was three, I urge you to please help save our local institutions because without them we lose our character.

Thanks for reading. x

I am so late to the party with this one, mainly due to my own laziness. Anything over any bridge takes a bit of effort, even if it is merely a hump on the King’s Road. But thank goodness I finally managed to wrench myself from my safety zone and venture to The Sands End pub on Stephendale Road, because what lay in store for me was easily worth a trip out of town!

The occasion was the bf’s birthday lunch: a casual affair with a dozen or so friends. When we arrived, one by one, the pub was already filling up. And the buzz of the locals in a place so off the beaten track felt quite exciting.

As we waited for our friends to arrive, the menu posed a slight challenge. What was I going to order when all I wanted to try was their Scotch Egg?

Eventually our friends started to arrive and we were ready to order. I skipped my starter but snapped a few pics of those which arrived at the table. I also tasted a few and I can readily say that they had surpassed any level of expectation from everyone who tried them.

I was particularly worried about a real foodie friend who isn’t what I would call fussy but he does like his food to be good, like we all do. And he is particularly vocal and eloquent about the food he tastes. When he tried his ceviche dish, he nodded with approval and I knew then that we were going to be in for a delicious afternoon.

So what did the others have for their starters?

Eel

Steak Tartare

Ceviche

Soup

For main, I ordered the Roast Pork …

Whilst others ordered the Roast Beef …

And for dessert, I had the chocolate fondant …

As drinks flowed and everyone enjoyed their dishes – me definitely! – I did wonder why I hadn’t been here before (laziness aside).

Eventually, afternoon became early evening and we moved off the table and headed outside to let the staff prepare the table for the evening sitting.

Outside, we ordered more drinks and as time went by, I couldn’t resist anymore. I had to taste The Sands End’s Scotch Egg!

And what a treat! I’d never tasted anything like it before. The egg was beyond light. It was almost sublime whilst encased in a coat of crispiness. Such sensations.

Somebody ordered a sausage roll, which I didn’t try but it did look very tasty too.

Finally, we left and walked back towards the King’s Road. In fact, the walk was ideal and made the whole afternoon almost guilt-free, so much so that I’ll be heading back soon again!

If at some point you’re heading east to the Olympic Park and if you’re a fan of local Chelsea pubs such as The Kings Arms, The Builders Arms, The Chelsea Ram or nearby The Phoenix, then you may want to try The Calf, a pop-up pub at Westfield Stratford shopping centre.

The guys behind The Calf are Rupert and Jo Clevely who together run Geronimo Inns and who are also behind the Chelsea pubs mentioned above.

As you would expect from a Geronimo Inns pub, good food as well as a selection of wine and beers will be available – so if you’re looking for a home away from home, this could easily be a safe bet.

I’ve never been to Westfield Stratford before but I can imagine that if Westfield is anything to go by, then it is very large and you will need to know your way around. My first and only visit to Westfield made me realise that unless you have hours to wander, then it’s best to know where you’re heading. So, here’s a map to help you find The Calf!

The buzz around the Olympic Park next month is going to be immense, so if you are popping into The Calf for a drink, cheers!

I have a bit of time to catch up on my blog posts and with Ireland playing Croatia on the television, I thought I’d best write a post on where to watch football in Chelsea.

Saying that, after the FA Cup and Champions League, this question may have been answered some time ago. But just in case …

The Hollywood Arms has a great screening room upstairs. You can read my post on watching the Champions League, here.

The Sporting Page is another great local which draws locals. I’ve been meaning to write about this pub for some time and promise to do so very soon.

Other pubs on or around Chelsea Beach include The Kings Arms and The Goat in Boots. All these pubs have enough screens to keep everyone happy but some may be bigger than others.

Further afield, there’s the Anglesea Arms but admittedly I do find the screens quite small there. Saying that, it’s a gorgeous local pub so it depends on what you’re after: atmosphere or a good view of the game.

And of course there’s Bluebird’s courtyard, which you can read more about here.

Erm, where else? The Chelsea Ram apparently shows football and if you fancy a cocktail whilst watching your match, Brinkley’s could be an option.

My list is a bit biased because of the area of Chelsea I live in but if you have other bars or pubs to add to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below. The more options available, the merrier. And who knows, I might actually venture beyond my safety zone!

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