Usually, a cafe – and even sometime a restaurant – that’s either physically attached or just in some way associated with a tourist attraction can only be described a pit stop to refuel, a place to sit the kids down and grab a cup of bog standard tea. In short, an easy tourist trap that’s probably a bit naff and more than likely a rip off.
But not in Chelsea. Here, Gallery Mess, the restaurant attached to the Saatchi Gallery is sophisticated and relaxed. Just as you’d expect it to be, really. But then you can’t always rely on reality to meet expectations.
Here, there won’t be screaming children throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get the plastic dinosaur in the giftshop, or running around in wellies like you’re used to at National Trust house’s cafes, nor overpriced slabs of cake, nor dreadful coffee coming from a machine.
It opened in 2009 in the space of what was once the Duke Of York’s officer’s mess – hence the name. The long, gallery type room, has the bar at one end and the best seats at the other which overlook the lawn outside. It’s crisp, white, bright and clean with high brick archways, floor to ceiling glass panels, low hanging lighting and, in keeping with the gallery it's attached to, art for sale on the walls, of course.
The brunch menu is split into traditional breakfast dishes and then three courses for lunch too, confusingly. But it covers the hybrid meaning of brunch by including both on one page, for those who can't eat eggs and bacon post noon. I go for eggs benedict, but want bacon instead of the more traditional ham, which is thankfully obliged. My companion plumps for the full breakfast: Cumberland sausage, bacon, mushroom, tomato, baked beans, black pudding, egg and hash browns. Pretty much the full works, unless you’re a lover of fried bread, that is. Considering it’s Chelsea and pretty much central London, the prices are fair – £12.50 for the benedict and £14.50 for the full English. Albeit only a few quid less each than some other restaurants of the same ilk, but all the same. It’s a saving.
Both are seriously large, giving you plenty of gnosh for your dosh. And my eggs are literally drenched in hollandaise which looks a little sickly, but not enough to put me off. It’s filling and rich with nicely cooked eggs.
The service is quite speedy too, but that doesn't put off the group of squeaking young girls next to us, who had finished their brunch by the time we arrived at 1pm and sat for the entire time we were there with sparkling water only. To be fair, it was January and the restaurant might not have needed the table back, but it certainly is pleasingly relaxed.
Gallery Mess, Duke Of York Square, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY; 020 7730 8135; open daily; saatchigallery.com
Smoked haddock kedgeree
350g boneless and skinless smoked haddock fillet
1 finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp double cream
150g frozen peas
300g basmati rice
A few lemon wedges
Begin by placing your eggs in a small pan. Fill the pan with boiling water, cover and then boil for 7 minutes. Then, drain the eggs and place them into a bowl of cold water.
Place the haddock and bay leaf in shallow pan and cover with cold water. Let the pan simmer gently for 9 minutes until the haddock begins to flake easily. In a separate pan, put the oil in and cook the finely chopped onion for around 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion slices have softened. Next, add the basmati rice and curry powder. Allow this to cook for a further 2 minutes.
Remove the fish from the pan and place it on to a plate. Pour 600ml of the poaching liquid over the rice whilst also adding a pinch of salt. Cover and cook on a low heat for a further 8 minutes until the rice feels tender. Peel the eggs and slice into quarters. Also, start to flake the haddock into chunks.
Next, add the peas to the rice and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Begin gently stirring in the haddock chunks and the cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with the egg quarters and a few lemon wedges.
Recipe from Heritage Breeds (heritagebreeds.co.uk)
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