'It felt like the living room of a friend who has just held a rather silly dinner party'

The Chelsea Ram

Open Sun—Wed midday—11pm, Thu midday—midnight, Fri—Sat midday—1am

The Style & Crowd:

The Chelsea Ram is a playful place. As I waited for Mr East to fly in from the wilds of Hackney I listened in to the conversation at the table next to me. They were just finishing a very long lunch—The Chelsea Ram feels like a place of very long weekend lunches, those lovely afternoons with all your best friends, prosecco, and just one more course—yes, let’s have some more cheese, why not….

They were, by now, post-cheese, post-coffee; a few had started to make their way on to other parties, promising to reunite as the night went on, and the ones who were left… the ones who were left started a yoga-off. Inspired by the class attended that morning by one of the girls, several of the boys proceeded to headstand, lotus, and generally balance and contort around the bar.

It felt like the living room of a friend who has just held a rather silly dinner party, and, with its sofas and gingham and a bookcase which turns out to be the door to the toilets, an extension of one’s living room appears to be what The Chelsea Ram sets out to be.

The Drink:

I ordered a glass of the Domaine de Valmoissine, Louis Latour, Pinot Noir (£6.90/175ml). The wine list is helpfully split into: red, white, rose, Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, sparkling and dessert. A friendly note on the back explains that this facilitates the diners’ exploration of these two favourite varieties. The Pinot itself is perfectly pleasant but nothing to write home about; it is, however, exactly the right temperature, which counts for a lot.

The Food:

Mr East arrived, ordered a beer and we started with soup and heritage beetroot. He was looking forward to the soup: it is mushroom and Stilton and he loves mushrooms (he makes a mean mushroom risotto himself) and Stilton. Sadly, when the soup arrived it was red, didn’t taste much like mushroom, or much like Stilton. And it was bit watery. We asked the waiter, who seemed unconcerned and speculated that maybe it was left over from lunch.

My heritage offering, on the other hand, was truly impressive, two varieties of perfectly textured beetroot, prettily arranged around a wholegrain mustard panna cotta, topped with tiny morsels of creamy goat curd. It was one of the more ambitious dishes on the menu and we couldn’t fault the execution, which was extremely pleasing on the eye and the palate. Our waiter recommended a glass of The Infamous Goose, Wild Rock, Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc (£6.70/175ml) to accompany it, which it did very well.

The beetroot was a hard act to follow, and a lemon sole from the specials list did admirably. The sauce was, perhaps, a little on the heavy side, but the fish was fresh and sweet, accompanied by crushed potatoes with their fluffy little centres bursting out of crispy, olive-oily skins. Mr East’s T-bone arrived as advertised. Unfortunately the words missing from the advertising were ‘hung for 30 days’ and so the meat was not as full of flavour as it could have been.

The main courses were substantial and we were defeated by the puddings. We finished instead with port, Ferreira LBV, and two well-made coffees—an espresso and a cortado.

Overall we had a very pleasant evening at the Chelsea Ram. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, and the food was, in parts, very good. It falls a little into the gastropub trap of charging slightly too much for a menu that is slightly too variable, but there is certainly talent in the kitchen and with the right drive this could become a place as known for its food as its rugby and prosecco.

The Chelsea Ram, 32 Burnaby Street, London SW10; 020 7351 4008; www.geronimo-inns.co.uk/london-the-chelsea-ram

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