Furthering my Chelsea explorations, minus the Barbour jackets and Hunters wellies and insatiable need to kill foxes, our next stop takes us to the Saatchi Gallery. Or, more importantly because food and wine, Gallery Mess restaurant at, well, the gallery.
Situated on the rah rah King’s Road, we stopped by on a drizzly Tuesday evening to sample the menu and see if it’s worth you lot paying a visit. The reviews we read online before were mixed – some saying the food needed improving, others lamenting the woeful service.
The Gallery Mess review
There are few entrances to the restaurant, one in Duke of York Square and one by the terrace, a large outdoor area for diners and drinkers. Had the weather been playing ball we’d love to have been seated outside as the terrace overlooked a gorgeous green field with imposing white houses in the distance. But such is a British Summer.
We arrived at the restaurant and spoke to a barman who got the attention of the busy server, Ernesto. He had us seated, fixed the wobbly table and the one of the other members of staff (I didn’t get her name) asked whether we’d like a drink.
Feeling like some good old fashioned midweek drinking, we chose a bottle of rose and looked over the menu.
The venue is stunning, with exposed brickwork, floor to ceiling windows and artwork dotted around the walls. From neon cocks to a woman with stars shining out of her backside, it was a great setting. Perfect first date territory.
From fish to poultry, the range of dishes on offer was extensive enough to give diners a choice, but not so huge you’d wonder whether the food was boil in a bag.
I chose a goat’s cheese and beetroot salad to start, while David opted for Marinated Scallops.
Scallops are our measuring stick. After a seafood experience at Perkin Reveller a while ago, they’ve stood out as the pinnacle for good seafood. If these were as good as Perkin’s, we knew it was good food.
The starter arrived, beautifully presented and we tucked in. The salad was gorgeous, well proportioned and divine. David’s scallops were cooked to perfection and a delight to eat.
Mains were Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, roti and a dollop of lime pickle, and Lavender Honey Glazed Duck. The duck was cooked beautifully, pink in the middle and crispy on the outside. The accompanying peaches worked wonderfully and I devoured the lot in record time.
David’s curry was just as rich and spicy, served beautifully.
After mains we were hard-pressed to think about dessert, but after some encouragement from Ernesto I picked his favourite, the Dark Chocolate Fondant. David went for a traditional choice of crumble, and although the crumble didn’t appeal to me, it was delicious.
Talking to Ernesto, we got a feel of the restaurant. It’s recently changed hands and the menu’s been scaled right back – the reviews we read all made sense. The focus, he says, it on a good dinner service, and good food. Although linked with the gallery, the restaurant is a venue in its own right, and that’s what management want to show locals and tourists.
As for patrons, well, for a midweek meal it was teeming with people. Families sat and enjoyed dinner together, while couples took in the gorgeous atmosphere. Ernesto says they operate very much like a local eatery, with couples on three tables around us all living in the area and paying a visit once or twice a week.
In fact, so regular are his diners that he worries when they don’t show up for any reason!
We had the most relaxed, delicious meal together in a long time, and with the art-based talking points and great location, we agreed we’d be back. The Saatchi Gallery’s a treat for the eyes, and when they’re done, the Gallery Mess will happily have taste covered.