Open Sun–Thu midday–11pm; Fri–Sat midday–2am
An eclectic and fun fusion of old and new, this light and airy open-plan pub features wooden floorboards, exposed brickwork, elegant floral displays, pop art and Chesterfield sofas, you name it – this pub has it, along with a fun, quirky vibe. This place doesn’t take itself too seriously which is refreshing in this part of town. It also has a great garden area and will be running regular BBQs throughout the summer months.
The Jam Tree attracts a crowd as eclectic as its furniture, with Chelsea ladies lunching on weekdays, city boys drinking away the week on a Friday night and a young, outgoing bunch keen to enjoy a drink and dance at weekends. They have a 2am licence on a Friday and Saturday night which pulls in a laidback weekend party crowd.
Side-stepping away from its neighbouring gastropubs, The Jam Tree has naturally let the eclectic theme run into its menu with a mish-mash of colonially-inspired dishes to suit all palettes. At first we presumed that this was a lack of identity and feared a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none outcome but we were proved wrong from the moment our starters arrived.
After much deliberation between squid and potted haddock (which I am assured that Rick Stein has given his personal seal of approval to) I chose the Satong Manis (£7.50) recommended by one of the owners. The battered sticky squid with a chilli, garlic and spring onion dipping sauce arrived in a generous tower of thick, tender squid rings. The flavours were immense; first a refreshing kick of spring onion, then the sweetness of the sauce and then boom – a hit of fresh chilli. The portion was enormous but I gave it my best shot; this was the best squid I had tasted in a long time. My only suggestion would be that some crispy pieces among the soft rings would have created a more interested mix of textures.
My friend Michelle had the curried Cornish crab samosas (£7); it was delicate, refreshing and perfect for a light bite to eat at lunch. The spice level was just right and the raita provided a refreshing edge.
My main however was the biggest surprise. Normally a red onion and goat’s cheese tart is a tragic affair, stuffed in a freezer and wheeled out when the dreaded veggie enters a pub. This however was superb: an enormous puff pastry base with fresh artichoke hearts; smoky, succulent sundried tomatoes and a deliciously sweet red onion marmalade all smothered in a rich, tangy melted goat’s cheese (£12.50).
The wine menu is relatively small but boasts some good bottles; we enjoyed our Chilean Sauvignon (£25) but not as much as we enjoyed our cocktail tasting. We timed our visit just right as the bar staff were trying out new recipes, the jam martini was totally indulgent, like childhood in a glass it held the nostalgic flavour of an old fashioned sweet shop. Draught beers are also on offer.