No. Fifty Cheyne
50 Cheyne Walk, SW3 5LR
WLC Rank : 61
Glass from : £ 12 (175 ml)
BEST FORPlaylist by Ronnie Scotts jazz club
The Library List
Imaginative cocktails capturing the spirit of Chelsea
Reimagined and revived, No. Fifty Chelsea offers a riverside haven for a long lunch for wine lovers mindful of value as well as cocktail aficionados.
Cheyne Walk Brasserie was reborn as No. Fifty Cheyne after a deep refurbishment. The dining rooms and clubby bar reach across the bones of two former inns, The Kings Head and Eight Bells which once captured the trade of eighteenth-century seamen when the Thames was wider and busier. It is owned by local, Sally Greene who is the founder-director of the Old Vic Theatre and proprietor of The Criterion, Queen Skate Dine Bowl and Ronnie Scott’s – which supplies the playlist.
Nantes-born maître d’, Benoit Auenau remains from the previous incarnation and doesn’t appear to age. “We were overwhelmed by how popular it quickly became, and, during the lockdown, had time to refine our service style and support our waiting staff with online WSET courses,” he says.
After bread from Hedone, expect reassuring, memorable plates emerging from the kitchen and the grill which is housed under a steamer trunk like awning. Previously of Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House, Berner’s Tavern and Sosharu, as well as The Square and The Goring, dishes by head chef, Iain Smith could include a starter of roast Orkney scallop with pea purée, confit fennel and Champagne sauce, then Herdwick lamb rump and confit belly with violet artichokes, roast garlic and broad bean croquette with minted jellies, perhaps with a side order of Tuscan olive oil creamed potatoes. Or opt for the grilled Dover sole.
The main wine list seldom peeks over £100 a bottle for still wines, including Listan Blanco from the Canary Islands, Grossett Clare Valley Riesling, and THALìA Etna Rosso. “We’ve been working closely with one of our favourite suppliers, Christophe Jeandeau at Battersea’s Champagne & Chateaux to refine our lists while making margins as slim as we can bear,” says Auenau. “And to keep our entry prices as easy as possible, we’ve added Prosecco to complement our new Saturday brunch, with a ‘bottomless’ option.” And then there is the “Library List” with reduced margins. There is much to like here, including rested first-growths such as Haut-Brion, as well as Penfolds Grange, and, in magnum, Hermitage La Chapelle – all close to the retail price.
Upstairs is a cosy drawing room and cocktail bar with views of the Thames, with a separate apartment with private dining options. Cocktails are devised by Max Barrington, formerly of one of Copenhagen’s famous Brønnum bar. These may include a take on the Bloody Mary blended from homemade passata, Kew horseradish vodka, honey, jalapeño, shallot, black garlic, smoked salt and rosemary. Meanwhile, guests who order the Pavilion Sour, homage to the Chelsea Flower Show, receive a Roja Dove perfumed handkerchief as a memento.
During the lockdown, Auenau pivoted the business towards an off-premises offer of bottled cocktails and cook-at-home dishes. “I learnt how to ride a bike as a local-delivery courier,” he recalls.
By Douglas Blyde.