One of D&D London’s many impressive restaurants within its portfolio, Bluebird is a Chelsea institution renowned for its fabulous location on the Kings Road and its well-heeled clientele who go to enjoy delicious food in elegant surroundings.
I had always assumed Bluebird was named after the bird bearing the same moniker, however, it was inspired by the Bluebird K7, the world’s first successful jet-powered hydroplane, which was driven by British racer Donald Campbell who set seven world water speed records between 1955 and 1967.
The décor is industrial chic / New York loft meets refined elegance. Floral displays and trees scattered throughout the restaurant create a sense of calm and bring a bit of the outdoors in, while soaring rust-coloured steel rafters and large leaded glass picture windows looking down onto the action of the Kings Road below create a striking focal point. Add to the mix lashings of 60s-inspired décor and I can’t help but think that Mad Men’s Donald Draper wouldn’t feel out of place sipping an Old Fashioned at the bar, while admiring the stylish diners from afar.
I’ve been to Bluebird on many an occasion for a lazy and indulgent brunch, but I’ve never been for dinner, so I was excited to try the new menu by Executive Chef Harvey Ayliffe. Bringing over 30 years’ diverse experience (including J Sheekey, Le Caprice, The Ivy and Soho House), Harvey’s updated edition of Bluebird’s menu reflects the fun-loving nature of the restaurant.
The new menu focuses on classic dishes with a new twist. There are comforting options such as the Bluebird chicken pie, with cep mushroom, smoked garlic mash and January king cabbage or for those who like a bit of spice, there are more exotic dishes to be had such as the Malvani monkfish & king prawn curry served with coconut chutney, lime rice and naan bread. There are also a selection of vegetarian and vegan options, including dishes like cumin roasted aubergine, toasted freekeh, pomegranate and pistachio dukka.
The chicken pie was like a comforting hug – the perfect meal for a cold, winter’s day. With lots of chunky veg and lashings of gravy, it was all the things a pie should be. Carrying on with the comfort food theme, we had the vegan truffle macaroni and cheese, which was actually quite nice given the bad rep vegan cheese has, although it wasn’t as creamy as traditional cheese, but that’s pretty difficult to replicate, to be fair. Although the macaroni was covered in truffle, it was actually very mild in flavour, so for those who find too much truffle overwhelming, it’s just right.
Other dishes we tucked into included the spatchcock chicken - a Caribbean-inspired dish with a mild bit of a kick, served with fresh slaw and shaved slices of mango and pineapple.
For dessert we went for the Bluebird –which consisted of chocolate and praline mousse, and candied hazelnuts and chocolate ice fashioned into a glittering blue version of the hydroplane served on a bed of dry ice for dramatic effect. Although it was tasty, I couldn’t really get my head around the look of it, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to desserts. The honeycomb mousse with caramelised banana and crushed biscuit ice cream, was much more to my liking, but it’s hard to go wrong with those flavours!
Bluebird Chelsea is the perfect place to visit when you want to enjoy a leisurely meal in gorgeous surroundings. In the heart of the action on the Kings Road, it’s the ideal place to visit after a spot of retail therapy.
We were first introduced to the Italian concept of aperitivo during a weekend jaunt to Milan. We loved enjoying the tasty small plates while sipping on sophisticated cocktails and lamented that we couldn’t replicate our experience in London.
So, we were pleased to hear about the opening of Ritorno, a sophisticated lounge with an Italian kitchen in the heart of Chelsea specialising in Italian small plates. This 80-cover lounge is a gorgeous place to unwind with decadent cocktails and moreish nibbles in a stylish setting, while still being able to enjoy a conversation with your companions.
The décor reminded me of Roberto Cavalli's style - all sexy dark colours and opulent styling with its striking butterfly wallpaper from luxury Venetian brand Rubelli, olive green velvet chairs, and dark forest green booths, sleek black glass tables and illuminated faux marble pillars, which create a sumptuous environment. We later learned that the décor is the work of Milanese interior designer Ingrid Nardilli who used butterflies in the interior as they ‘represent lightness, beauty and elegance, which is what they'd like guests to associate with Ritorno’.
Guests can choose from 40 small plates prepared by chef Filippo Salzano, all of which use high quality ingredients and the freshest produce possible. Even the mozzarella is made using the authentic Italian method, but prepared in the UK to ensure it’s as fresh as possible.
During our visit we had the homemade artisan bread served with Lorenzo extra virgin olive oil (our new favourite olive oil); potato croquettes, fried mozzarella, arancina and fried artichoke; pan-fried Milanese saffron risotto, homemade taglioni with mini meatballs and the crispy pork belly with basil oil. All of the dishes were fresh, delicious, beautifully presented and not too heavy, which is exactly what you want when you’re enjoying cocktails as well. Being dessert lovers, we finished with the chocolate fondant, which was fab. The small plates range in price from £5.50-£10.50 and it’s recommended that two people sharing start with five small plates to share, which we found was more than adequate.
Ritorno has a wide range of innovative cocktails, so it’s worth trying a few different cocktails during your visit. The cocktails range in price from £12.50-£13.50, on par with what you’d expect to pay in finer establishments. If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, the helpful mixologists can provide recommendations to suit your tastes. With head barman Paolo Viola behind the helm (formerly of Rivoli Bar at The Ritz), you really can’t go wrong.
The Ritorno Milan Mule was a unique twist on a classic, featuring homemade clementine and cinnamon syrup, Campari bitter and ginger beer. If you’re looking for a show-stopping cocktail, however, then the Snow Kings is the only drink of choice. This winter cocktail has a white Americano base, soft hazelnut liquor foam, Mancino Bianco, Bitter Berto, Frangelico Liqueur and egg white and comes served with smoke from a burnt cinnamon stick, which is trapped in a glass dome and then wafted at the diner when presented at the table.
If you’re not into alcohol, there’s no need to feel left out as their mocktails are also sensational.
The staff here are exceptionally knowledgeable about the provenance of every item, which makes each drink and dish all the more special when you have the full back story to accompany it. Everyone at Ritorno really goes out of their way to make guests feel special, which is one of the reasons we can’t wait to go back.
For larger groups, there is a private dining room downstairs, which seats 10 guests, making it the perfect place for an intimate gathering.
This is a great place to unwind with a sexy post work tipple and nibbles.
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There's nothing more delicious in life than indulging in a sensational meal.