Switch on E4 on any given Monday night and ten minutes of Made in Chelsea will give you a rough idea of the veritable number of establishments this part of South West London has to offer. Glamorous clubs, private members bars and palace-like cafes serving high teas from shiny trinkets are accommodation enough to host an hour’s worth of bitching and whining. But far from being an isolated neighbourhood for the privileged few Chelsea is now awash with quirky cafes, restaurants and clean run-of-the-mill pubs which has liberated the area from the clutch of the VIPs and very much opened it up to the, well, P’s.
VQ Chelsea is an establishment that has lived through it all, feeding and watering punters 24 hours a day for seven days a week for 20 years. Opened in November 1995 it has become an institution on the Fulham Road serving 10,000 customers every month, and after closing for a mini refurbishment earlier in the year it is back in business with revamped interior and a polished menu that has been worked up in collaboration with Joe Mercer Nairne (Head Chef and Co-owner at Medlar) who has come on board to act as a Consultant Chef at VQ.
The first thing that strikes you is the inherently relaxed vibe the place has to it. The restaurant has chiselled out a niche serving classic comfort food in a relaxed, friendly and professional environment, and the new Busby Webb design really accentuates that feeling. Warm wood panelling and comfortable leather banquettes and booths line the long restaurant with a feature light wall there to help enhance the ambience of the space and place an emphasis on the movement of light and changing colour spectrum throughout the day.
And if you’re going to strut your beams then you better darn well have a cocktail list to match, and the guys don’t disappoint. Porn star martinis and the appropriately-named 24 Hour Life are a pick for the late night revellers, but for us mid-evening social types a fresh mojito and an espresso martini with a warming hit of brandy did the job, keeping us both occupied as we perused a menu that has the intricately difficult task of catering to all audiences at all times of the day.
As well as the legendary all-day breakfast menu featuring everything from their iconic Buttermilk Pancakes to Eggs Benedict, diners have the choice of a selection of burgers, salads, pasta, small plates and old favourites such as Fish & Chips or their signature Club Sandwich. The new menu boasts enticing dishes such as Halloumi Fries with Tzatziki; Burrata with Piquillo Peppers, Caponata, Rocket, Toasted Hazelnuts & Balsamic; Devon Crab Salad with Baby Artichokes & Endive; and a delicious Buttermilk & Vanilla Panna Cotta to finish.
Now, you would think given VQ’s broad brush approach to cater for all palates at all times of the day that the dishes might be found wanting on quality, but you really can’t fault it. A starter of Parma ham with celeriac and mustard slaw served with toasted sourdough is simple and effective, and from the look of other opening bites it seems as though that is a consistent theme. King prawns and sweet chilli sauce is always a winner, and you can’t got far wrong with spicy chicken wings with peri peri sauce.
For mains you are at liberty to stick or twist with the time of day, with a whole range of breakfast options available to daring dinner diners or a wide selection of more conservative options if you wish. We went for one of each. A full English on one side of the table and a smoked salmon linguine on the other. Both meals did the job and did it well, and I must say that having the pick of sausage, egg, toast and preserves whilst nursing a cocktail after hours was really quite a thrill.
MIC eat your heart out!