Snow turned Chelsea into a veritable winter wonderland last week; perfectly timed for The Phene’s Winter Garden Party.

Admittedly as I ran on the treadmill at The Chelsea Sport’s Centre and looked out of the window to see the harsh weather, I struggled to imagine heading down the road for an outdoor party. But I persevered and a couple of hours later, I was inside a toasty pub sipping on Belvedere cocktails and the odd hot toddy.

Eventually, it was time to venture outdoors and what a delight it was. The comfy seats, which were reminiscent of an outdoor Sydney lounging vibe, were covered by stylish white canopies. Meanwhile, the outdoor heaters and a couple of burning fires kept everyone warm despite my eco conscience, which did struggle slightly. The first floor Lounge was my other favourite area. With a Christmas tree in the corner and three sofas positioned in front of a roaring fire, this was a gorgeous room to hang out in.

A couple of nights later and with the snow now settled, I visited 102 Sydney Street to discover one of the most exciting events in Chelsea. Neal’s Yard Galleries had turned a disused office block into a three floor art gallery.

This exhibition contained a huge range of works, which made every floor a genuine surprise. Take India Amos‘ fine art collection: her still life on linen brought texture to the simplicity of her colours and subjects. There was also the suggestive works of George Morgan whose pieces evoked a romantic and sometimes fantasy world. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rupert Burt’s abstract works were inspired by molecular science.

Given what I have said in the past, it was so exciting to see art bring an industrial space to life in Chelsea; so much so that I might have to pop in again before it all comes down next month.

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

The Chili Martini at Sophie’s Steakhouse is easily one of my favourite cocktails in Chelsea. It’s so good that at the end of the night when all the other foodies are paying their bill, I have to order just one more as if it were an after dinner mint albeit slightly more potent.

The Chili Martini consists of vanilla vodka, chili and passion fruit. These three simple ingredients are explosive when mixed together whilst the clash of the sweet passionate fruit with the hot chilli turns your mouth into a playground of delicious flavours. It’s so easy to drink that tasting one will leave you wanting more. This cocktail is a definite recommend.

 

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.

Whilst King’s Road is in full festive swing with its gorgeous lights and Christmas trees, last week was time to put myself in for a pre-Christmas MOT. So I booked myself in for a Kiehl’s facial, perfectly timed but not in anticipation of my Martini fuelled hangover from Sophie’s Steakhouse the night before.

Without realising it, I had discovered the perfect hangover cure thanks to the wonderful hydrating facial massage that was part of the treatment. And as my dehydrated skin was being brought back to life with a healthy glow, I also had the pleasure of getting to know Stephen who was taking care of me.

Stephen has been working on King’s Road since 1968 and had plenty of stories to tell, including the time when he worked at Elliott’s shoe shop where The Beatles and The Rolling Stones used to hang out.

This led me across the road to Proud Gallery Chelsea which unveiled a new John Lennon photography exhibition on Wednesday. The intimate photos of John and Yoko were a delightful glimpse into the closeness of their relationship whilst early photos of The Beatles reminded us that these legends were once fresh faced pop stars at the beginning of their career. And speaking to Jess at the gallery, I also discovered that Proud Chelsea’s building used to be the location for The Beatles’ tailor which was part-owned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

In a world where communication is becoming less personal, it’s a real joy to speak to the other Chelsea locals and discover the stories that helped establish King’s Road as an important chapter in fashion and music history.

Mina Zaher

Follow her @kingsroadrocks

Last week I was just about to step into The Botanist when I was asked what my poison was. I replied King’s Robe. But when the kind gentleman went to the bar, I discovered that the King’s Robe was no more. As much as I was devastated that this delicious rhubarb martni was now a distant memory, I was excited to take a look at the menu and discover something new. I chose the Dusty Rose Martini which consisted of a “large shot of Pinky vodka muddled with fresh pink grapefruit, homemade white rose syrup and a splash of fresh lime juice.”

The Dusty Rose was a refreshing drink. It didn’t pull any surprising punches but it did have a delicious sweetness when it touched the lips. Dangerously, it didn’t have a bite either so was easy to knock back. This drink is a definite recommend if you’re looking for something light and not too sweet to drink. The pink rosebud at the bottom is also a very pretty touch.

The antithesis to The Dusty Rose was the Roasted Plum Martini which I tasted at TwentyTen Restaurant at The Wyndham Grand Hotel on Chelsea Harbour. This drink, which consisted of sake, Stolichnaya vodka, roasted plum and golden syrup was confusing. The flavours didn’t blend so easily. They were so jarring that I had to look at the menu to remind myself of the ingredients. Perhaps it was the clash of the sake with the golden syrup that confused my taste buds. It was a pity because this drink was on the verge of being a great martini for Christmas. As much as I tried to enjoy it, I struggled.


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