When Belle last visited Gallery Mess in Chelsea, the days were getting longer and Londoners had a lighter spring in their step as they strolled through town. But as we emerged from Sloane Square station on a stiflingly chilly Sunday at the end of November, things couldn’t have been more different. Heads bent against the wind we forwent wandering the boutique shops and stalls leading us through Duke of York Square from the Kings Road , and instead shuffled steadfastly through clusters of Christmas shoppers to our destination.
However, once inside the grand double doors of the Saatchi Gallery’s attached eatery, it was like slipping on a warm pair of gloves and meeting an old friend. Immediately greeted by smiling staff and offered a seat inside the bright, bustling restaurant, all complaints about the weather and worse vanished. We were here to have fun.
Gallery Mess is a special kind of place where whether it be a quick bite before browsing the artwork in the neighbouring building, or a languishing brunch on a Sunday morning, you are always made to feel welcome. We had come to try out the new seasonal winter menu so we settled down with a refreshing Rhubarb Royale and perused the dishes on offer.
I was drawn to the starter of avocado and grapefruit with crumbly feta cheese, but the festive menu offers winter warmers such as Jerusalem artichoke soup with wild mushrooms & garlic croutons, Venison carpaccio with brussel sprout leaves and a chestnut & sage Gravlax with pickled cucumber, dill dressing & sourdough toast. As we saw them all pass by our table being delivered to other diners, our mouths watered in envy. Our choices though, mine of the avocado and my companion the soup of the day, proved to taste just as delicious as the other dishes looked.
Being a Sunday and being past midday, I decided to indulge in the option of bottomless Prosecco alongside a three course brunch. I opted for the Eggs Florentine as my main dish, while my companion chose the fish and chips. A delicately battered haddock with hand cut chips and a healthy portion of homemade tartare sauce.
If you book a Christmas lunch or party at Gallery Mess you are spoilt for choice with the festive offerings. Mains include Barbary duck breast served with mulled red cabbage, clementine and star anise jus, Stone Bass with sage roasted parsnip, salsify & kale, or a vegetarian delight of broccoli and blue cheese soufflé with salt baked celeriac, shaved celery and candied walnuts. All sizes of parties are catered for from intimate tables for two, to the whole office in the private room adorned with Saatchi showpieces.
While the main dishes are enough to leave anyone content, after over-indulging on my last visit I knew this time to leave room for dessert. Most are made on the premises and all beautifully presented, from beetroot and chocolate cake with black pepper crème fraîche to a rhubarb meringue tartlet with ginger ice cream. But after braving the bracing winds outside it was comfort food I was after, and that came in the form of a juicy and tart apple crumble served with both vanilla ice cream and a creamy custard in a jug on the side. Just the job for a cold winter’s day. There is of course the option of a Christmas pudding for festive diners, or a chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream. A reason in itself to book a return visit very soon!
Prices are reasonable at Gallery Mess considering it’s slap bang in the middle of one of the most affluent areas of town. Starters range from around £7-14 and most main courses are well under £20. The Christmas menus are set at £45 per person for 3 courses and a glass of Prosecco on arrival, and you can enjoy unlimited house wine with your meal for another £25 per person.
- To see the full menus and to book a table see www.saatchigallery.com/gallerymess