Bluebird: a Chelsea favourite for good reason

Last week I achieved a very special personal milestone: my first book was published. It’s been a lot of effort and a test of resilience, but mainly it’s been one very exciting journey to get here. I will mark the occasion with an event in the new year once all the Christmas parties have passed, but on the night that this milestone was achieved, a colleague of mine and I went for dinner to make the most of the evening – and I suggested The Bluebird Restaurant.

The entrance to Bluebird, decorated for the holidays

I’ve been to The Bluebird before on several occasions, be it for breakfast, a drink, a special birthday dinner, and even a friend’s wedding, so I knew I’d have a lovely evening. The restaurant manager always gives the perfect recommendations, the food is always delicious, and the art deco style and gently lit dining room creates an ambiance and a stylish atmosphere that set it apart from your average restaurant. Indeed, everything from the details in the decor that change with the seasons down to the outdoor courtyard that creates a ski chalet experience in the winter or offers Wimbledon Tennis viewing in the summer – even before you consider the food, Bluebird makes you want to be here for the experience.

The ‘ski chalets’ in the back of the outdoor courtyard, on a cold and quiet weekday evening

Upon our entry to the restaurant, we took advantage of the coatcheck before taking our seats in the dining room. We had a lovely table by the window with a view of the King’s Road, and a quiet spot in a quiet dining room to enjoy conversation. On the weekends the energy is rather different: there is more of a buzz when the restaurant is full, but it’s more like electric energy rather than cafeteria noise, and all still enjoyable. We started the evening with glass of champagne while we perused the menu, but I knew that before I’d choose anything, I’d have to ask Marco, the restaurant manager.

The menu at Bluebird, which changes frequently to cater to seasonal changes

Marco’s recommendations are always on target, and having just launched the latest menu with a focus on comfort food, he recommended the crispy duck salad to start, followed by the slow-baked short rib. We both opted for these choices, and would soon both be delighted that we did.

Bread and butter, served at the start

But first, we were served with bread and butter at the table. Simple enough, you might say, but the bread was fresh and warm, and the butter was creamy and spreadable. The combination of these two elements, served in their optimal states, created a delightful start to our dinner and set the tone for the high quality of food to come.

Soon enough, the crispy duck salad arrived, served with green mango, shaved carrots, lotus root, and chilli and ginger dressing. Oh, where to begin! First, the salad was a beautiful rainbow on the plate: the brightly coloured ingredients popped in their composition on the plate, and almost sparkled with the sheen of the chilli and ginger dressing – which, I’m pleased to say as someone with a low spice tolerance, was well balanced and not at all overwhelming. The duck was spectacular: served warm, and in chunks, this created a beautiful contrast in the mouth as the warmth and softness of the duck was met with the cool, sharp, crispiness of the vegetables. The duck was so incredibly tender, and its sweet, tangy coating was delightful. It was a good, healthy portion too: my colleague and I looked at each other a little sheepishly, as we had thought we had been ‘good’ by opting for a salad starter… this was probably higher on the calories than we would have expected – but well worth it.

The beautiful duck salad

Not long after, the main dish arrived: the slow cooked short rib of Hereford beef, served with thyme roasted root vegetables and on a bed of colcannon. Now, we knew from the moment Marco recommended this dish that we were in for something special, but we hadn’t imagined something like this. The beef, which I recall had been slow-cooked overnight, quite literally melted off the bone and could be taken with a spoon if desired: no knife needed…

This perfectly cooked short rib was wonderful…

The rainbow-coloured root vegetables recreated the beautiful, warm colours of autumn on the serving dish – and were cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of bite. The colcannon on which the beef was placed was as warm and comforting as mashed potatoes can get. This dish was something special, and we adored every bite.

Possibly the best slow-cooked short rib I’ve had

It was around this time that we were brought two espresso martinis, courtesy of another colleague of mine who knew I was coming here to celebrate this evening. We were both very grateful, and I can confirm that the espresso martinis were delicious. The balance of alcohol and coffee isn’t easy to get right, and it’s a drink that is either very good or quite the opposite… and this version was enjoyed by the both of us.

Espresso martinis at Bluebird

However, we were not quite finished, because dessert was too tempting to resist. Upon Marco’s recommendation yet again, I opted for “The Bluebird”, consisting of milk chocolate and praline mousse, candied hazelnuts and chocolate ice cream. The ingredients themselves seem delicious of course, but little did I know the dish would be an event: upon its serving, I learned that it comes with a bit of theatre, as dry ice is used to create a visually impactful experience even before tasting. It succeeded in creating a ‘wow’ moment even before I tried the dish, which can be risky if the flavours cannot live up to the presentation. Fortunately this wasn’t the case: the crispy chocolate shell in which the smooth mousse was served created a nice contrast of texture as well as a playful experience in the breaking of the shell. The candied hazelnuts added further dimensions of texture and balanced the sweetness. I enjoyed it entirely. The chocolate ice cream was delicious, but in light of the chocolate mousse, I’m not sure it was needed aside from visual balance on the plate.

Dessert, served with a bit of drama

All in all, it was a wonderful dinner, in lovely company, and although it probably goes without saying, I will no doubt be returning on many future occasions. It really is the quintessential Chelsea spot for good reason; long may it continue to earn its place as such.


*Calories: Honestly, I didn’t even try to calculate this: I just logged 2000 calories for the full experience (three courses, plus bread and butter, and alcohol) and can only hope I didn’t exceed this. It was a special occasion, after all…

Food taste: 4.7 / 5 (It was excellent all around. Picking at the superfluous chocolate ice dream as part of the dessert is really picking at straws. It really was comfort food in every sense: for the eyes and the nose as well as the taste buds, and in these beautiful seasonal ingredients I was well and truly comforted. )

Food/table presentation: 4.5 / 5 (Food presentation was on the rustic side, but that fits the theme of the ‘comfort food’ menu and the options we selected. The dish composition for all courses was beautifully considered. The dessert, however, certainly had a wow factor. The glasses and flatware were lovely, and the table was comfortable, and reasonably spaced from the next one. )

Service: 4.5 / 5  (Marco’s recommendations were impeccable, and made all the difference. Our server was friendly and helpful, but also gave us the space to speak with very few interruptions, and never rushed us out the door – even though we had been there for nearly 3 hours by the time we left.)

Atmosphere/decor: 4.4 / 5 (The restaurant is lovely, as is the outdoor space. The dining area at times felt a little too dimly lit, but that might have been more a factor of where we were sitting, which was on the periphery of the restaurant and next to a window facing a night scene. The space feels elegant and refined without much pretension. The art deco touches create a sense of personality. )

Value for money: 3.5/ 5 (Dinner came to £74… if considering this included three courses and a serving of champagne, admittedly it does feel like a touch above average for the general Kings Road area; then again, this is The Bluebird! I would expect that for this landmark establishment, the experience would come with a slight premium. I’ve compromised with a somewhat-above-average marking, but the experience remains excellent.)

Overall rating: 4.3/ 5

2 Comments Add yours

  1. SudsEats says:

    What about the book?

    Like

    1. caterinamaniscalco says:

      It’s called Distributed Leadership and Digital Innovation – it’s related to the day job; and not food at all!

      Liked by 1 person

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