Bumpkin, Chelsea

Bumpkin Chelsea

If Chelsea were a person instead of a suburb she (or indeed, he) would be posh, pretty and rich.

From the Kings Road shops, to the Georgian town houses, to its residents, they are nearly without exception, of the posh, pretty and rich variety.

A little bit bland for some people, perhaps lacking edginess, but hey, when you have those three things going for you, who cares?

Bumpkin – the cute and small chain of restaurants – is well suited to Chelsea. Priding itself in British reared food and positioning themselves as restaurants for all occasions, Bumpkin restaurants feel like you have stumbled into one of its resident’s pied-à-terres. In Chelsea, its dark woods toward the front of the restaurant lighten and open up the space as you walk through to the aptly named Potting Shed bar, then outside to the sun trapped Secret Garden.

On a balmy summer’s evening, the garden was the destination of choice for Bumpkin’s well-heeled diners, which included a famous fashion designer, a party of Italians, and another reviewer’s table, clearly reveling in their new found influence. They will learn. The waiting staff – mostly women, mostly gorgeous – were charm personified, and our token male waiter spoke eloquently and passionately about the menu.

Appetites whetted, the Northerner and I kicked off with a cheeky English Garden aperitif – Hayman’s Gin shaken with cucumber, elderflower, mint, apple, lemon juice and a hint of soda water. That was summer freshness in a glass.

The Laverstoke English mozzarella, tomato and rosemary fire bread (a mini pizza by other names) promised of great things to come. The breaded cod cheeks with oyster mayonnaise, pickled cucumber, caviar and sea vegetables were bountiful, succulent, but a little bit underwhelming. Ditto the smoked Gressingham duck with pink grapefruit, rhubarb, watercress and tomato dressing, which was good, but nothing more. The mains of cod and sirloin steak from Buccleuch were similarly good, but a pinch of salt away from greatness.

The iced dark chocolate and honeycombe slices, with fresh strawberries and a yoghurt dressing was good, so long as you could cope with honeycomb cemented to the roof of your mouth. The sticky toffee pudding was an outright triumph. The organic rosé was crisp dry with a subtle depth of flavor.

Likes its locale, Bumpkin is indeed posh, pretty and rich, but it dishes, while good, were let down by a lack of seasoning, a complaint that few, if any, British restaurants, will get from me. Bumpkin needs to introduce a bit more salt into its food. Bumpkin needs that little bit of edge.