The welcome: Bluebird’s refurbishment has been achieved to a high standard – there's the sense that rather than the King's Road, you might be in a high-end hotel somewhere much warmer; the indoor foliage, well-judged skylights and waitresses' fuchsia dresses feel like the Far East. The new menu, however, from Executive Head Chef Liam Smith-Laing, is Modern European with an emphasis on mainstream fare.
Service is generally attentive if slightly rote. It must be noted that when one animatedly sent a (fortunately empty) wine glass flying while making a terribly important point about something or other, the breakage was cleared swiftly and discreetly and without making us feel like we'd killed someone's pet cat – truly the mark of a gracious establishment.
The room: The Tuesday night Bluebird crowd includes affluent families with older children and single-sex groups talking business – and we hear that the BFI London Film Festival has been bringing filmmakers and actors here for celebratory dinners. Due to the large, open feel of the dining room, those in the market for a romantic evening may wish to request an alcove, or indeed window table – the front of the restaurant overlooks the leafy, pleasantly-lit courtyard which will come into its own as a suitable destination a deux in warmer weather (though you'll have to tolerate King's Road hubbub, which you may or may not feel adds to the atmosphere).
The food: We start with a glass of Moët, an Aperol Spritz and gougères (bite-sized French cheese pastries), followed by half a dozen rock oysters, which prove a real highlight – not everywhere in London in this price bracket bothers with a decent supplier, but here the molluscs in question are large and flavourful. Half a cold lobster arrives shortly after; most of the prep has been done for us, there’s no fussing with crackers, just a bit of pick-work.
For the main event, the two of us opt for the Galician on-the-bone Ribeye, with charred romaine, pureed potatoes, cavolo nero and a portion each of béarnaise and green peppercorn chimchurri. Against our waiter's gentle recommendation, we order the Ribeye rare; in retrospect medium-rare would indeed have been better, but it's an excellent steak nevertheless, with the generous but not overwhelming fat appropriate to this cut.
The meat works well with a textbook Artesa Crianza Rioja (2013). Those who prefer beefy Robert Parker-approved classics with steak might want to try something a little more robust, but we find this exuberant wine an appropriate, modern, well-balanced affair; despite its placement on the wine list in the “firm and tannic” section, it certainly couldn't be accused of tannic overload and slipped down a treat.
For pudding, we have Hot Molten Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs, Pecan and Iced Milk and the cheese option. Fans of the fashion for warmed cheeses will be in seventh heaven, while those who wonder what's wrong with some charcoal biscuits, quince and a room-temperature cheeseboard will find themselves rather more at sea. The molten chocolate is less controversial: it is unreservedly superb, boasting a sort of deconstructed Peruvian vibe.
Would we go again? If only to take the waiter’s advice on how to have the steak. It’s definitely a place to see and be seen, so we’d happily head back on a Friday or Saturday.
|What||Bluebird restaurant review, Chelsea|
|Where||Bluebird, Chelsea, 350 King's Rd, London, SW3 5UU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
01 Oct 16 – 01 Oct 20, Monday - Friday: 12 - 2.30pm, 6-10.30pm; Saturday: 11am - 3pm, 6 - 10.30pm; Sunday: 12 - 3.30pm, 6 - 9.30pm