Take a stroll down Pavilion Road, just a few steps from Sloane Square, and you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise. It seems the local community, and this is Chelsea remember, were up in arms about the area losing its attraction to independent retailers and artisans. So landlord Cadogan listened, promised to do something about it and promptly created a charming pedestrianised mews full of artisan traders and boutique retailers.
To this eclectic mix comes Hans’ Bar & Grill, an all-day brasserie that is the food offering of the legendary 11 Cadogan Gardens luxury boutique hotel. Now owned by L+R Hotels, who know a thing or two about high-end hospitality with Chewton Glen and Cliveden House in the portfolio, the future for this Chelsea icon is looking rosy.
Installing Luke Philips to head up the kitchen from his previous role as senior sous at Chewton Glen is a statement of intent, perhaps keen to bask in Philips’ glory from Master Chef, The Professionals. Either way, I had high hopes for Hans’ Bar & Grill, and by the looks of the clientele, as I made my way in, there was no shortage of well-heeled Chelsea locals tucking in.
Unlike the historic Lord Chelsea-designed Victorian hotel upstairs, the restaurant is a thoroughly contemporary dining space with a relaxed, informal feel; perfect for lunch and afternoon tea for Sloane Street shoppers while come evening, perhaps the after-work dinner crowd takes over.
The menu was unashamedly seasonal British produce and my curried parsnip and apple soup with home-made shallot bread (£9) was an absolute belter of a starter. Steaming hot with a little spicy kick, it came in a bowl labelled SOUP just in case there was any doubting its identity. Other suitable suitors for my taste buds were wild mushroom and truffle polenta (£8) and dressed Dorset crab (£12). The soup won out and I found myself literally scraping the generous bowl for scraps it was that good.
Italian Assistant Manager Enrico was brilliantly attentive to every table and treated us all like long-lost family. He was quick to point out to me that “tonight is steak night and we have some fantastic fresh cuts” which he promptly disappeared into the kitchen and emerged with a piled tray of fresh cuts. Top of the crop was an aged chateaubriand which he promised would “melt like butter in your mouth” but was rivalled by a 250g chunky fillet (£35) and a 250g rib-eye (£35), both still on the bone. There was also a couple of fish dishes; Dover sole meunière (£40) or a roasted cod fillet (£24) but what carnivore could resist the lure of a fresh chateaubriand on steak night Thursday (£85 for two). I also ordered a couple of irresistible sides too just for the hell of it, a chopped Savoy cabbage with caraway, chestnut and lardon (£5) and mac & cheese (£6).
In a welcome nod to old fashioned fine-dining theatre, Enrico carved the chateaubriand tableside, plating it with loving care alongside a grilled portobello mushroom and a generous square of crispy dauphinoise potato. It was triumphantly presented with a duet of sauces; one wine, the other pepper, both in delicate little jugs. It was a build-up worthy of a noble cut of prime fillet and it didn’t disappoint. It was, as promised, deliciously melt in the mouth, supported by a lovely chargrilled flavour. This was an epic dish that really lived up to the billing.
The pudding list was small but perfectly formed with the stand out choices a cheese plate with pickled walnut puree and oat biscuits (£12) and a Valrhona chocolate fondant with hazelnut ice cream (£7). In the end, though I plumped for the pineapple carpaccio with chilli and lime and coconut sorbet (£7) which turned out to be refreshingly sharp, a welcome palate cleanser to a really enjoyable dinner.
Chelsea has always held a certain mystique for me. Maybe it was the King’s Road Quant and Westwood era, or the gorgeously stylish apartment buildings around its many hidden squares and parks. But one thing is for certain, Hans’ Bar & Grill fits perfectly into Pavilion Road’s cluster of cool and trendy outlets.
All food images (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Hans’ Bar & Grill in Chelsea
Hans’ Bar & Grill, 164 Pavilion Road, Chelsea SW1X OAW
T: 0207 730 7777 E: email@example.com