Walking down King’s Road it would be easy to overlook Beaufort House among the iconic street’s excess of fashion boutiques, upmarket eateries and classy coffee shops.
A hangout for the cool kids of Chelsea it might be, but there’s more to this brasserie than its polished exterior and King’s Road locale – sesame-crusted salmon and pork belly bites for a start.
Due to mark its fifth anniversary this month, Beaufort House occupies a sizeable corner plot that stretches skyward four stories. The self-dubbed “English-European” brasserie is buzzing when I arrive on a Saturday afternoon with brunch plates and afternoon teas flying out of the kitchen at a remarkable speed. Beaufort House is small enough to be intimate but not cramped, and large enough to spread out but not to excess – it’s comfortable, in a word. It reminds me of a European coffee house, buzzing with chatter and permeated with the scent of freshly brewed coffee, but with the welcome addition of Champagne cocktails and towering plates of tiny sandwiches and pastries. Had I arrived at 9pm the same day, I’m told the scene would have been very different, with the brasserie transforming into a hip cocktail spot at night with guest DJs and the odd celebrity guest. This is when its extensive list of spirits by the bottle, imaginative shots menu and magnum Champagne list comes into their own. Having previously welcomed the likes of Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix and Made in Chelsea’s Rosie Fortescue, its upcoming fifth birthday celebrations, which it will mark this month, promise an appearance by teen singing sensation Connor Maynard and celebrity magician Archie Manners.
Its ability to segue from tea party to nightclub is typical of the venue’s chameleon-like approach to dining. Because Beaufort House is not just one restaurant but several, set across four floors with spaces to cater for everything from corporate functions, stag dos and private dining to children’s parties, afternoon teas and cocktail parties.
“It’s an up-tempo night club from 8pm”, explains manager Roy Jettoo. “We cater for everything. That’s why I’m here. I could be running a kids party one day and a stag party the next. We had a small wedding here the other week. I don’t know what we are, but we are growing and doing well.”
It might not fit neatly into a prescribed dining box, but my experience of its main brasserie’s lunchtime persona was positive. Kicking off our visit we dove into its cocktail menu. We sampled the Posh Pirate – a blend of Mount Gay golden rum with pineapple juice and pomegranate liqueur topped with Champagne – and the Chelsea Passion – a blend of Tanqueray gin and raspberries, topped with Champagne. However at £12 a serve you may want to direct your funds toward its wine menu, which is healthy in its range.
Its range sweeps from a reasonable £22 Pays d’Oc Merlot to a Vosne Romanée Burgundy at £144 a bottle. On the white side, highlights include a £110 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs Gains, alongside a selection of more modest offerings, which includes a £27 Rioja Vina Tobia Blanco from Spain. Its by the glass selection is small but diverse, featuring red and white serves from regions including France, Chile, Australia, Argentina, Italy and South Africa, priced at between £6 to £15 a glass. For those wishing to splash the cash, magnums of Champagne are available, which include Laurent Perrier Rosé, NV Ruinart blanc de blancs and Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow label. Dom Pérignon, Bollinger and Krug also feature by the bottle.
Drinks in hand I size up the menu, ordering pork belly with crushed peas and smoked red peppers to start. A sight to behold, the beautifully presented bright green pea mash with slivers of red peppers and caramelized crackling had me salivating before I lifted the fork. Tender and piping hot, its striking appearance was thankfully not at the expense of flavour. My other half chose salmon tartar with wasabi mayonnaise and music bread, which proved a winning selection.
The pan-seared salmon with a sesame crust and savoy cabbage with wholegrain mustard and orange beurre was also a hit, a healthy portion negating the need to tuck into a side of fries. A ribeye steak with wild mushrooms, French fries and a peppercorn sauce hit the spot for my partner. Completing a trio of well-executed dishes, I indulged in a pineapple tarte tartin with white chocolate ice cream, which was as delectable as it sounds. Hot and sweet, its caramelized pastry casing was pleasingly flaky, yet firm. However my partner’s much-anticipated espresso crème brûlée was disappointingly more crème than espresso, prompting us to get our caffeine hit instead from a flat white.
Pan-seared salmon with sesame crust and savoy cabbage with wholegrain mustard and orange beurre
Beaufort House might not know exactly what it is, but that’s part of its charm. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and in an area that can at times lack a sense of affable sophistication, it offers a warm welcome, sense of familiarity and great deal of choice.
• 1 Posh Pirate £12
• 1 Chelsea Passion £12
• 1 pork belly £7.50
• 1 salmon tartar £7
• 1 pan seared salmon £14
• 1 rib eye steak £23
• 1 espresso crème brûlée £8
• 1 pineapple tarte tartin £7
Beaufort House, 354 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UZ, beauforthousechelsea.co.uk