Extravagant tropical flower decorations, riverside views and a deliciously cool Lychee martini, complete with hibiscus flowers – this seemed far too indulgent for a Sunday afternoon.
But like many London restaurants, the people behind the Blue Elephant in Chelsea believe Sunday afternoons are the new Saturday nights, (or just as good as).
And while I perused the sumptuous list of Raspberry Bellinis, Thai Pinas and Bangkok Ice tea, I felt smugly clear-headed. While many revelers from the night before were probably nursing a cup of tea in front of a Sunday morning cookery show, my friend and I were ready to embrace Blue Elephant’s much talked about Sunday Brunch menu.
It was the second time in two weeks I’d swapped my Sunday morning eggs and toast for a more adventurous non-British fare. But not only is it a great way for we Belles to get together and extend the weekend fun, it’s also a nice way to sample a condensed version of a restaurant’s cuisine.
For want of a better word, the menu here was anything but condensed.
As we passed the plush mezzanine dining area and beautiful Thai artwork to reach the first floor, there was an immense spread of food with whole sections dedicated to each course.
While the Blue Elephant is widely known to West Londoners for its impressive 25 years of business on the Fulham Road, it’s only been in Chelsea Harbour for the past year.
Still, founding chef, Nooror Somany, appears to be doing all the right things. As first impressions go, the starters set the bar high.
We decided to start with a hot Thai soup or ‘Tom Yam’ which one of the chefs cooked fresh, in front of us. After we picked out a variety of meat, noodles and spices, she combined them in a steaming vat. The result was a simple but tasty aperitif.
Next came a selection of traditional bite-sized dim sum and salads.
From skewered chicken satay, deep fried king prawns and spring rolls, to edible leaf wraps, beef salad and pork dim sum parcels, we were utterly spoilt.
A short breather later and we soon gave in to the urge to order a second cocktail in the shape of a ginger martini. All I can say is ‘wow’. The heat from the ginger against the sweet apple liqueur and of course, the kick of the vodka was the perfect accompaniment to the Far Eastern flavours. Did I mention the Blue Elephant bartenders make these creations behind the most magnificent dragon-shaped bar? The whole restaurant was a feast for the eyes.
Shortly after, we returned upstairs to choose our mains. With options like vegetable Phad Thai and Taro Himmapan they cater well for vegetarian Belles. I’d have liked to have seen a larger range of meat and fish dishes, but as the menu changes weekly that’s one thing you can’t guarantee with this kind of set up.
Still, the chicken massaman-style curry suited me just fine and I was thankful I’d left some dessert-sized space as we darted for the chocolate fondue fountain. After eagerly dipping in marshmallows like excited children, we came across all sorts of mini Thai treats.
The warm banana pudding, chalky coconut sampannee and brown sugar Kao-too sweets might not suit everyone’s taste. But it was hard to turn down both the jasmine cake and pots of chocolate puddings.
With gooey sweet tamarind pods beautiful exotic fruits, it was a sweet-toothed Belle’s dream.
As we left the Blue Elephant completely sated, we couldn’t help spot more interesting details that made us stop in our heavy footed strides. From hanging potted plants and glass cabinets filled with oriental teapots, to aromatherapy oils for sale, it was a Sunday brunch to remember.
For some, Sunday’s the day of rest, but this is one indulgent experience I’ll get out of bed for.
Sunday Brunch at the Blue Elephant is priced at £30 per person.
Blue Elephant, The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf, Townmead Road, London, SW6 2UB
by Lucy McGuire