You may have heard on the SW grapevine, or on the Made In Chelsea one, come to think of it, that the much-adored Cheyne Walk has reopened as No. Fifty Cheyne after a lengthy refurbishment. Behind the magic? Founder and Director of the Old Vic and proprietor of Ronnie Scott’s, Sally Greene. I had the pleasure of “sussing out” the new(ish) neighbourhood eatery and boy was I blown away.
Exteriors don’t amaze; we’re not talking a Ritz or Stafford but, as the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that matters. Walking in is like going into a Downton Abbey-esque living room; think dazzling chandeliers, egg shell washed beams, towering velvet curtains, stripy banquettes and plush cushions galore. Designers Lambert and Brown did good. The space is simply spellbinding and oozes such an old school glamour across the entirety of the 70-cover area. If I were to pick one word to describe No. Fifty Cheyne upon first impressions, it would be charming.
We were immediately whisked away to the bar which sits neatly in the main dining area. Drinks were served by stylish waistcoat wearing waiters, who meandered between wanting to make it the most magical evening of our lives and imparting an educational journey upon the guest; detailing cocktail recipes, food stories and the story behind No. Fifty Cheyne. The cocktail list has been expertly put together by head mixologist Max Berrington and offers up a range of creative conceptions, inclusive of their speciality, if you will; an Espresso Martini with No. Fifty Cheyne twist, made with whisky, rather than vodka which comes with a hint of vanilla and a dash of mint. One negroni and a Banana Canonazo later and it was time to eat!
Our eyes wandered, almost predictably, towards the centrepiece calescent open grill which I urge you to order something from, if it’s the last thing you do. We were cushioned in the corner of the restaurant and began, as one should at No. Fifty Cheyne, with a bottle of Charles Heidsick NV, Brut Reserve – when in Rome, or No. Fifty Cheyne and all that. The wine list is superb and bountiful and has been crafted by Peter Horton, group F&B director, and is definitely worth a puruse.
Head chef Iain Smith serves up an exceptional menu, noticeably summery and brimming with seasonal ingredients and best of British fare, which reflects the vibe of the quintessentially British venue. Bread lands on your plate hot off the grill, served up with a smile and makes for a crusty and buttery genius to be enjoyed whilst you peruse the menu.
We began, greedily, with the beef consommé and bacon jam brioche; an intriguing dish that cleverly balanced the flavours of savoury and sweet. Equally as delicious and rich in flavour was the slow-cooked hen’s egg, with asparagus, morels and wild garlic that filled our asparagus season needs.
Mains consist of dishes such as Native lobster, Herwick lamp rump and cob chicken breast or you can opt for something grilled; from grilled fish of the day to veal chateau 9oz or various sharing dishes that includes highlights of chateaubriand and fish of the day. The dishes can be chased down by wine pairings from the superb menu of which we frolicked in the glorious U.S Zinfadel. No. Fifty Cheyne boasts a menu that leaves recommendations hard to make, simply down to the fact that all offerings are bountiful, delicious and innovative.
The dessert menu brims with nostalgic classics such as sticky toffee pudding, crème brûlée and hot chocolate fondant, but our favourite was caramelised puff pastry, poached rhubarb, sorbet and rippled Chantilly which is a light and tasty way to finish off a meal that had us patting our bellies and reclining on the cosy sofas.
No. Fifty Cheyne is not somewhere you’d likely stumble across, but more of a word-of-mouth gem, which are always the best kinds of restaurants, that we highly recommend a visit to. Set amongst leafy urban walks and the River Thames, it’s a restaurant sanctuary that will transport you back in time with its charm.