T&C tests: Hans Bar & Grill, Chelsea
When developers dangle the promise of building a ‘community’ in an area that generally lacks any such thing, it’s usually wise to be sceptical. In the case of Chelsea’s Pavilion Road, however, credit where credit is due: a butcher’s, a baker’s and a cheesemonger’s are among the thoughtfully chosen businesses to have set up shop in this peaceful street off the King’s Road, just moments from the bustle of Sloane Square. The latest addition to the ‘village’ is Hans Bar & Grill, so called in honour of Hans Sloane, the entrepreneur and philanthropist who gave his name to many of the local streets. Launched by the same culinary team who oversee the restaurants at Cliveden and Chewton Glen, it’s as quintessentially British in its menu as you’d expect, albeit with a contemporary twist.
The strength of this venue lies in its versatility: you could quite happily go along for a weekend brunch with friends (complete with Bellinis and Bloody Marys), stop by before work for a swift business breakfast, pop in for lunch while out shopping or do as we did and indulge in a full three-course dinner for a special occasion – an anniversary, in our case. Bright and airy during the day and more intimate by night, the décor lends itself to this multifunctional approach, with a mix of seating, a private-dining space and a wine room.
The à la carte menu, devised by head chef Adam England, doesn’t break any moulds but does give you exactly what you might fancy after a long day at work. After a couple of white Sangrias to get us in the mood, we went straight for the starters: for me, Wye Valley asparagus with a precisely cooked soft-boiled egg and fingers of Welsh rarebit (a definite upgrade on the traditional white-bread soldiers) and for my other half, a rather more Mediterranean concoction of creamy burrata with succulent white peach and slivers of Bayonne ham. Mains were substantial: the West Country lamb loin came served on a green bed of peas and broad beans with a juicy side of sweetbreads, while my spiced chickpea and coriander burger with fries was an upmarket version of pub grub – far chunkier and more flavoursome than the usual pallid veggie patty.
You’ll disappoint the (delightful) waiting staff if you leave without dessert here: they’re especially proud of their chocolate puddings and cocktails, made as a tribute to Sir Hans himself, who brought a fondness for cocoa back to Britain after his travels in Jamaica. We tried the fondant with cherry sorbet – intense chocolate offset by sweet fruitiness – and couldn’t resist sampling the flourless orange cake with bitter grapefruit curd too.
Perhaps it was just the anniversary putting us in a celebratory mood, but we were perfectly charmed by Hans Bar & Grill. It may not be experimental, and you couldn’t call it one of a kind, but sometimes good food in a relaxed atmosphere is all you need to make you happy.
Hans Bar & Grill, 164 Pavilion Road, London SW1X
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