Beginning his career at the young age of 16, who would have thought that Adam Handling, now just 31, would be an accomplished chef and owner of three restaurants and three bars, including Frog, Eve Bar and Adam Handling Chelsea. Just minutes away from the illustrious Sloane Square, Adam Handling Chelsea is an elegant dining space, serving contemporary British cuisine, heroing seasonal produce. Situated inside the Belmond Cadogan Hotel, the restaurant offers brunch, lunch, dinner and even a Free-Flowing Sunday Lunch – the reason we were there.
Simply decorated, the restaurant oozes sophistication with its high ceilings, oakwood table tops and polished floors. Guests can choose to dine in one of two areas, the main restaurant or opposite the chefs counter, where there are just a few tables – this is where we sat; watching the chefs on one side and admiring the collection of vintage bottles of wine on our other. Providing a welcome extension to the restaurant is the Adam Handling Bar. Inspired by some of the buildings famed historical occupants, it’s the perfect place for pre and post-dinner drinks.
Though the restaurant is the main dining area for guests staying at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel, Adam Handling Chelsea is still very much a destination restaurant, attracting people from all over London and beyond. The crowd varies depending on the sitting – lunch or dinner – but is undoubtedly a wonderful venue for special occasions and even working lunches. This isn’t the type of restaurant for small children, if only because the fine culinary concepts would be lost on such youthful pallets, though I have no doubt the staff would make them feel just as welcome.
This is a Sunday Lunch like no other. As you walk into the restaurant, the first thing you see is the chef’s counter, topped with the most delightful spread of seafood and cured meats. From boiled lobsters and fresh oysters to homemade blinis with smoked caviar, and Hendricks cured salmon, it was hard not to grab a plate and tuck right in. Once seated comfortably in our booth, overlooking the chef’s counter (we didn’t want to stray too far from the lobster), the waiter brought us a welcome drink; homemade croissant liquor and blueberry, topped with champagne. Subtle in flavour and slightly sweet – it didn’t last long. Before our wine glasses had even been refilled, we turned our attention to the abundance of food in front of us; you could taste the care that had gone into the preparation of each item. Soon, our table was filled with two additional special side dishes: doughnuts filled with cheese, topped with light shavings of parmesan and truffle, and a homemade sourdough, served with a chicken butter, with crispy chicken skin. For the main course, (yes, that was just the starter) we both selected the Beef Wellington, though there are also the options of pork belly, hake or yeast-roasted cauliflower. The beef was served perfectly rare and the pastry crisp on the outside. The dish was accompanied by a thick and rich red wine jus, clotted cream mash, steamed greens and millionaire chips – they really were royalty worthy, made by layering up thin slices of potatoes. Throughout the meal, we were served free-flowing drinks – either bellinis, red or white wine – by the head sommelier, who didn’t mind us quizzing him on his favourite wines and experience – I find sommeliers so fascinating. After a short break for coffee, we found room for dessert, this too was in ‘buffet style.’ Luckily, the desserts were small, which meant we could try each one. My favourite was the Chocolate and Praline Opera, with almond and amaretto sponge. Although I did like the mandarin dessert, which was shaped like a small orange and filled with ricotta.
In a nutshell
It’s not often I would give a restaurant five stars but Adam Handling fully deserves it; I felt like royalty from the minute I walked through the door to the moment I left. The waiters, sommeliers and chefs made the experience worth every penny. Because of course, the Sunday Lunch doesn’t come cheap. Prices start at £75 per person, with the option to add free-flowing classic or premium drinks. I’m already trying to find an excuse to return.
adamhandlingchelsea.co.uk; 75 Sloane St, Chelsea, London SW1X 9SG; firstname.lastname@example.org