Pubs

Pub-Food

Last Thursday saw the first Chelsea tweet up take place at The Cadogan Arms. The night started off with champagne cocktails as we anticipated the delicious looking menu for the evening.

For starter, I had the pickled Devon crab, blood orange, fennel and citrus vinaigrette, which I enjoyed thoroughly. And for main, I tried a gluten free Venison (no Wellington), which was accompanied by potato gratin and red wine jus. For sides: red cabbage, honey roast parsnips and mixed leaf salad arrived on the table – although I refrained from venturing onto the sides. Given that we are still in January, I was attempting to practise some level of restraint. But all self-control was quickly diminished by the time dessert arrived: white chocolate parfait and raspberry compote. Praline crisps also accompanied the non-gluten free dishes.

I devoured the rich dessert as if chocolate were the source of life in an Arabian dessert. It was a pure melt in your mouth sensation and I savoured every moment of this experience – like I said, it is January.

The wine chosen for each course were also very well selected and by the time our digestifs arrived in the form of either Espresso Martinis or brandy, I was ready for a game of pool upstairs. Given the number of years I have visited The Cadogan Arms, it really is a wonder why I hadn’t even stepped into the billiards room before then. And what larks were had!

The night was a real hit, even if my pool skills weren’t. The food and wine provided a great feast and as for the Espresso Martinis, surprisingly spot on. Last Thursday night made me realise that whilst life is full of many wonders, even regular haunts on the King’s Road like to keep us locals on our toes.

 

On Saturday night my friends and I enjoyed our Christmas dinner at The Windsor Castle, which is located on Campden Hill Road. I hadn’t been to this pub for a couple of years and as soon as I’d walked in, I wondered why I hadn’t been back in so long.

It is the perfect winter pub; perhaps because it feels Dickensian with its very low inside doors which are technically oblong shapes cut out of the wooden panels: you have to stoop through in order to get to the next section of the bar. It’s only when you take a look at the website that you learn how the pub was designed to segregate class and sex back in the 1830s. Yet despite their initial polemic function, a sense of romanticism lingers as you make your way through the pub.

Despite the cosy nature of this pub, there’s a real sense of privacy here, as Kensington and Notting Hill locals perch on stools or sit huddled around tables. And if you stand at the bar like the group of revellers on Saturday night who donned loud Christmas jumpers as they began their festive celebrations, you get a real sense of this place as you take in its intimate landscape: The Windsor Castle is traditional through and through.

As for the food, if you’re looking for gastro fare you’re in the wrong place. On the Christmas menu there was venison pie, salmon in pastry and of course, a Turkey dinner. Most people finished their dishes and there weren’t any complaints. The food here is simple, honest grub.
But The Windsor Castle isn’t just for winter; it also has a lovely garden in the back. And I for one have decided a Gin and Tonic will be on the agenda there next summer.

Yesterday, I popped into The Phene to check out this year’s Winter Garden. It was about 4.30pm when I arrived and there was a table of people inside finishing up their lunch; a couple on the other side of the room having a drink; and a man wearing a suit, drinking a cocktail. There were also a few people outside.

I’d never seen The Phene so quiet and chilled. I’m used to going there in the evening to find a crowded bar and garden – and admittedly, I tend to pick other places as first choices. But yesterday was superb and the winter garden really made me feel festive whilst reminding  me of my impending deadline to finally deal with my Christmas shopping!

Over the last year, I’ve learned to order straight from The Phene’s cocktail menu rather than go off-piste. It’s easy that way and I started yesterday with a Passion Fruit Martini which I can wholly recommend. I then proceeded on to a couple of glasses of champagne, which felt perfect for the setting.

So all that’s left to say is that if you’ve finished work early or are taking time off over Christmas, I’d definitely recommend checking out The Phene during off peak hours. It’s a real treat.


For more photos of The Phene’s Winter Garden, click here.

 

The Abingdon is by far my favourite pub for cocktails. Every now and again I try other pubs for martinis but somehow they always prove to be a disappointment. As a general rule, based on experience, cocktails and pubs don’t seem to mix. Only the exceptional places can get away with it and The Abingdon is definitely one of them.

This evening, we popped in as we were heading back to Chelsea. It was a spontaneous decison and we managed to grab a table. The place was busy on a Monday night.

I skipped starters and for main, I ordered the lobster lasagne with a second dirty martini:

For dessert, the bf and I shared a chocolate cheesecake and OMG, see below:

Note the very thin base at the top of the image. For the most part, the cheesecake had a mousse-like texture. It was divine.

The Abingdon was the venue for my first date with the bf, four years ago, and for other reasons it will always be a special place. But I have to admit, this isn’t the type of place to go to if you’re in a hurry. The restaurant area is relaxed and that includes the service. And if you don’t mind the pace, you’ll be in for a real treat!

I’m not great at turning up to a party on time but last night I finally made it down to The Jam Tree on the King’s Road – and wow! This venue hasn’t been so popular since it was CTR (Come The Revolution). I’m not even sure what it was before The Jam Tree. But that doesn’t matter anymore. This place has come back to life!

Last night was a Hog Roast, pre-Embargo, party and the beer garden was steaming. By the time we arrived, the the roast had finished so I can’t comment on the food (like I said, not on time). But I did have a Kickjam cocktail which consisted of an espresso shot with Russian standard vodka and raspberry jam, which was delicious. It tasted like a smoother and thicker version of an espresso martini. I couldn’t taste the tinge of raspberry though.

If you’ve been to The Jam Tree in Olympia, Chelsea has quite a different vibe. It feels fresher, for obvious reasons. The main food menu also looks intriguing; I’ll be trying it soon. I’ve always enjoyed the food at the Kensington branch, so am feeling relatively optimistic with the fare here.

A final note: It’s worth following The Jam Tree Chelsea on Twitter to find out which fab DJs will be coming up. Tonight has DJ Femi Fem from the Young Disciples; a band I used to L-O-V-E!

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