Let me cut straight to the point. I loved this place and think it’s the best new restaurant in Chelsea. My advice would be to pick up the phone now, and make a booking before they get completely full.
Medlar is the first restaurant venture of Joe Mercer Nairne, previously sous chef at Chez Bruce, and before that, the Savoy Grill. David O’Connor was previously the manager at The Square. Medlar is located near the World’s End on the site where the Indian restaurant ‘Vama’ used to be. The ground-floor dining room is in three sections, with a skylight in the back section, but I particularly like the booths in the middle section, or if you’re lucky on a rare sunny day, have a table outside. Word has been spreading slowly and steadily over the last couple of months on how delicious the Modern European food is, the suprisingly good value of the menu, and the unpretentious and friendly feeling of the staff.
The decor is very simple, with lime green tones and some art work on the walls that looks like it has some sentimental value to the owners instead of just random pieces that might work well with the look of the restaurant.
The menu is prix fixe, which means you can have 3 courses for £25 at lunch, £38 for dinner and £30 at Sunday Lunch. When you have tasted the food I’m about to show you, I hope you’d agree that’s pretty damn good value, especially in Chelsea.
I was impressed by their freshly made rosemary focaccia, which was light and fluffy. I then started with the Duck egg tart with red wine sauce, turnip purée, lardons, young sorrel and sautéed duck heart. I have never knowingly eaten duck heart before, so I thought I’d give it a go. Firstly, the actual tart pastry was near perfect, buttery, not too heavy, not too crispy and easy to cut. The expected richness of the duck egg yolk complimented the earthy turnip purée and the meaty taste of the duck heart, I was expecting a taste more in line with liver or kidney. But I’m not complaining, because the skill in which these flavours were balanced and executed in this dish was extremely impressive. I was already beginning to get more excited about this restaurant. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a restaurant where I notably over-heard other tables making comments like ” That sauce is ridiculously good” or “Jesus christ, that’s amazing” and a lot of “mmmm’s” and “oh my god’s”. And I’m not exaggerating about this!
My two dining companions both ordered the Crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce to start. I had asked the waiter before we ordered what were the best starters, and he said that the Crab Raviolo was selling like hot cakes, that evening alone, out of 50 orders, 30 people had ordered it. I had a taste, and it was another winning dish. Freshly made pasta, cooked al dente, tightly wrapped around freshly picked crab in a delicate and moreish bisque.
For the main, I had the under blade fillet with persillade snails, salad, triple cooked chips and béarnaise. I had never heard of under blade fillet, the waiter was explaining how this was a similar cut of beef to bavette and was from under the shoulder of the cow. The beef was, pink, tender and incredibly flavoursome. The triple cooked chips were crispy and fluffy (I just needed two more to have a perfect ratio with the steak!), and this was served with a very impressive silky béarnaise, with just the right balance of tarragon and vinegar. The tender snails, did add a touch of garlic to the dish, and I did like them, but I could have very easily gone without.
And so on to dessert. I’ve never been a big dessert person, but because of the 3 course prix fixe menu, I decided to give them a go. I had the Buttermilk pannacotta with English strawberries, pistachios and financier, and my companions had the Chocolate and almond torte with honeycomb ice cream and caramel sauce. This was the moment in the meal where other tables near us had to hear our groans of “Jesus, this is good” etc. I would recommend both desserts to anyone if you come here. I am not going to elaborate, because I think most people know what a chocolate torte and a pannacotta taste like. These particular ones, were just perfectly executed with the ability to make you shake your head in disbelief after every mouthful. The Union coffee was of high quality as well.
Apart from the phenomenal food that I’ve gushed about a tad too much, one of the reasons I think this is going to be one of the great Chelsea restaurants is the service and ambience. Throughout our meal, our waiter was extremely friendly, relaxed and very informative. The ambience is the same, Not stuffy at all, just a small buzz of a relaxed local restaurant. I’d also like to make special note of the sommelier, Clement Robert (Young Sommelier of the Year), who has made an interesting and bold wine list, and doesn’t mind any question you throw at him. The passion and knowledge he had about wines to recommend and the stories behind them were very commendable. We ended up going for a recommendation of his, an Italian white wine called “Ribolla Gravner” , which apparently the winemakers bury the barrels in the ground during the production process. It had the colour of whisky (I’d never seen a white wine like it!) and it complimented all the dishes.
The quintessential Chelsea neighbourhood restaurant is back. And boy, have Joe and David got it right on all levels. Great value, stunning flavours with friendly and informative service. I’m going back this week to start eating my way through the menu, and at these prices, why not?
Average price per head for three course meal including a bottle of House wine and service: £45
Price for 3 courses:
Sunday Lunch: £30
438 King’s Road
Chelsea SW10 0LJ
Tel: 020 7349 1900
Nearest tubes: Sloane Square, South Kensington or Fulham Broadway
(All about 20 Mins walk)