No. Fifty Cheyne review: home cooking with haute cuisine flourish
This thoroughly cosy urban eaterie has been turning heads in London with its spectacular dessert menu and vibrant, charming atmosphere
Nestled on the picturesque Cheyne Walk in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, No. Fifty Cheyne could easily be dwarfed by the grandeur of its surroundings. Positioned a short distance from the Albert Bridge on the Chelsea Embankment, the walk up to the restaurant is idyllic. When we visited - on a Friday lunchtime - the surrounding streets felt sleepy, but an aura of life emanated from the restaurant on the corner of the historic street. The façade had been elegantly wrapped in Christmas decorations and an inviting smell of homecooked fare ribboned through the crisp air.
From the outside, you would be forgiven for mistaking No. Fifty Cheyne for a pub, but once you open its weighty front door, this impression quickly dissolves in the presence of the opulent trappings of fine dining. Steppingin from the cold, my eyes were immediately drawn to the glass-encased grill which sits at the front of house, amplifying the smell of home cooking. From here, approachable staff were quick to take our coats, before seating us at the table.
Hues of blue, grey and brown offer a relaxing space for guests to occupy almost every table in the restaurant. Festivity is enhanced and unavoidable due to twinkling Christmas decorations that adorn the downstairs restaurant, which the general manager, Simon Walton, tells me can seat around 70 people.
Upstairs there is a ruby-red cocktail bar and drawing room which overlooks Cheyne Gardens and the Thames. The Chelsea that is synonymous with royalty and riches can be sensed, but it is head chef, Iain Smith, formally head chef of Jason Atherton's Social Eating House, who grounds the restaurant with his expertise in humble, hearty food.
After being seated it took no longer than three minutes to choose our courses. To start, my companion opted for the best-selling roasted Orkney scallops with a butternut squash sauce which offered a warm fish bisque taste. I opted for the beetroot salad which arrived stacked high with pumpkin salad blanketing a bed of beetroot, citrus quinoa, caramelised clementine's and cranberries – a medley, which was moreish, sweet and filling, while a dash of cashew nut milk added a creamy touch. Selling out weeks in advance, according to our waiter, I chose the roast turkey main and my partner chose the rib eye steak from the grill, paired with broccolini and extra chunky beef potato chips.
Truth be told, my experience of turkey so far in life has been one forgettable encounter after another, so I was pleasantly surprised that this turkey breast was succulent and bursting with flavour. A sage and onion stuffing, brussel sprout ragout and cranberry sauce added to the festive combination and sparked an explosion of joy within me. While wild mushrooms and boulangère potatoes offered an interesting flamboyance to the innovative take on a traditional roast dinner. My companion's ribeye delivered the quality and satisfaction you would expect from the grill in a fine dining restaurant, and his extra chunky chips were, as promised, extraordinarily chunky.
Satisfied and filled, dessert wasn't a necessity as such, but on the chef's insistence that we give the sweet menu a go, my decision was swayed. Having earlier spotted a couple on an adjacent table ordering only dessert, I anticipated the best. Swiftly brought out was the Christmas pudding with spiced pumpkin bourbon custard and mince pie ice cream, followed by the dark chocolate fondant with pistachio salter caramel suave and malt ice cream.
The latter was extraordinarily rich, moreish and more than a little indulgent, acting as a perect foil for the souffle. As instructed by Simon, I made a hole in the middle and slipped in the quenelle of ice cream before pouring over the custard. Light, fluffy and graced with a delicate taste of raspberry, every spoonful was bliss.
This restaurant is brimming with love, charm and expertly curated dishes; it effectively excels in all it does. Its luxurious laid-back comfort offers the perfect place to enjoy Christmas or any occasion you deem fit to celebrate, and it stands as a place to forge cherished memories with a restaurant that will sharpen your taste for life.