350 King’s Road
London SW3 5UU
Tel: 020 7559 1000
Food type: British
Food rating: 2/10
Nearest tube: Sloane Square/ South Kensington
Website: Bluebird Restaurant
I have managed to accumulate quite an impressive amount of points on Toptable which will be expiring soon. As such, I decided it was a good idea to spend my accumulated points. One of the restaurants on their ‘freebie’ list is Bluebird restaurant, a place which had caught my attention when their head chef then, Mark Broadbent, was featured on Season 2 of the Great British Menu. His greatest achievement was defeating 2 Michelin starred chef, Marcus Wareing in the regional heat. (Eating out tip: the newly Michelin starred Chapter One is also one of the places on the Toptable point redemption scheme [currently 3,000 for a 2 course dinner meal] so be quick if you have a few points to spare as I am sure this promotion will not last very long)
Mark Broadbent has since left Bluebird after 4 loyal years of service, and in his stead is Mark Block, a familiar name within the D&D London household. Mark Block has previously worked at Almeida and Orrery. Prior to that, he had stints at the Dorchester and Von Essen’s Cliveden.
Bluebird is located smack dab in the middle of Chelsea’s Kings Road. To get there you will probably need to catch a bus from either Sloane Square or South tube station. The building is unmistakable. The Cafe is located on the ground floor along with their food store, Wine cellar and bakery. The restaurant, bar and club are located on the top floor, accessible via lift or stairs from the Courtyard. The design within the restaurant is very unique – the restaurant is suspended from the steel roof structure, with its cathedral-like nave running down the centre of the room. The decor is contemporary, combining graphic design with rich, warm colours of brown and maroon, alongside subtle, but sensible lighting (ie. not as pitch black as Maze). A private dining room called the Mezzanine is located high above the restaurant in the eaves of the roof. I think its also worth mentioning that the crowd here is a young one, and is particularly popular with groups of girls on a night out.
The menu served at the restaurant offers up classic British dishes given a luxurious makeover using high quality ingredients. For example, hamburgers here are created using ground galloway beef while the humble chicken and mushroom pie is given a lift with the inclusion of maize fed goosnargh chicken and cep (porcini) mushrooms. Amongst all the British classics of pies, fish & chips and sticky toffee puddings you will also find one or two popular European dishes such as steak tartare and pumpkin risotto. The a la carte menu is individually priced with starters between £5.50 – £15.50, mains £12.50 – £22 and desserts £5.50 – £7. More affordable however is their set menu, available for lunch and dinner, priced at £15.50 for 2 courses or £18.50 for 3, which features quite a few dishes from the ALC menu.
Bread was brought to us on a tray with a selection of white, sourdough, poppy seed, brioche and brown to name a few. A sourdough which I tried was unfortunately rubbery and tough, while the brioche was heavy and less than buttery. (1/10)
Severn & Wye Smoked Salmon, Soft Hen’s Egg, Capers, Rye Bread
Smoked salmon is sourced from Severn & Wye – a producer I am quite familiar with as I am a big fan of their peat smoked organic (farmed) salmon (which I might add, ate a lot of over the Christmas period). This was accompanied by a soft-boiled egg (yolk still a bit runny, the way I like it), some salty capers and rye bread. It is pretty hard to give marks to dish however because what the chef has essentially done is to source some good quality smoked salmon and serve it on a plate.
Terrine of Ham Hock, Chicken & Parsley, Onion Marmalade, Cornichons, Sourdough Toast
Ham Hock, chicken and parsley terrine was enjoyable, served cold with a quenelle of onion marmalade, piccalili, cornichons (gerkhins) and crisp sourdough toast. Unlike most terrines, the one served her contained nice chunks of ham hock and chicken, giving it a meatier bite. The sweet caramelised onion marmalade was nicely balanced by the acidity of the cornichons and the gentle heat from the piccalili. (3/10)
Seared Yellow Fin Tuna, Herb Rolled, Soy, Wasabi
Seared herb rolled yellow fin tuna (if you were eating in a Japanese restaurant you would call this tuna tataki) was literally just that. The fish was tellingly fresh in both its ruby red appearance and more importantly taste. The balance of the soy and wasabi dressing, immaculate with just a small spike of the wasabi (more wasabi was available on the side if that kind of thing floats your boat). (4/10)
Warm Goat’s Cheese & Onion Tart, Puffy Pastry, Rocket, Aged Balsamic
Others tried a Goat’s cheese and caramelised tart with mild but creamy goats cheese to go with the buttery puff pastry.
Grilled Cornish Mackerel, January King Cabbage, Herb Crust, Horseradish
Grilled herb crusted Cornish mackerel was fresh, the flavours of the oily fish smartly lifted with a squeeze of lemon. Horseradish cream accompanying the fish was surprisingly lacking in a significant kick, offering only a mild background hint of horseradish. Vegetables however were beautiful – tossed with just a little butter, the king cabbage was timed perfectly resulting in the cabbage having good texture and retaining all of its wonderful flavours. One bone to pick (pun intended) with this dish is that I felt more care should have been taken when pin-boning the fish – I pulled out at least 5 bones while eating it… the commis chef needs a good bollocking. While myself am not fussy with bones in fish, I can understand why some of my friends simply stay away from fish because of the fear of choking on a bone. (4/10)
Braised Highland Venison, Secrett’s Carrots, Soused Red Cabbage, Juniper
Braised venison was an outright disappointment – the venison dried out and tasting pretty much like cardboard. The vegetables accompanying, while good, was not able to save this dish from a complete disaster. (0/10)
Goosnargh Chicken and Mushroom Pie, Maize fed Chicken, Cepes, Puff Pastry
One of my guest tried their chicken and cep mushroom pie – with good buttery puff pastry and a rich creamy sauce.
Apple Tart Fine, Baked Apple Sorbet, Caramel Sauce
Apple tart was passable – slices of apple prettily arranged like a fan on a wafer-thin piece of pastry. The apples were slightly dried out from the baking process, although somewhat rescued by the unique baked apple sorbet (well it does what it says – baked apple made into a sorbet) and caramel sauce. (2/10)
Bannofi Fudge Sundae
A very retro dessert in the form of a bannofi fudge sundae had nicely caramelised bananas, pleasant vanilla ice cream, good fudge sauce and a very well made shortbread biscuit. It does what it says on the tin. (2/10)
Service was pleasant although towards the end, when the restaurant was fully packed, we had trouble attracting attention – a problem caused by too many tables and too few waiting staff. Overall, a passable dinner at Bluebird. I was not expecting much from my meal at Bluebird and from that respect, I was pleasantly surprised. What I was most impressed with was the pricing of the food – in particular the set menu, which, given the location of the restaurant, portion sizes and general level of cooking, for me represented good value for money.
As a small plug, this week sees my interview with the London Student paper being published. You can read about it by following this link. In addition, this blog also got special mention in one of the Harden’s article relating to the Michelin results for UK & Ireland 2009.