I recently turned 30 and realised that the only bucket list I own is one that’s filled with restaurants and bars. On that list, for a while now, has been Bluebird Chelsea. It's known for its swish interiors and a promise of good night out along King’s Road, so I ventured down on the last night of my 20s to strike off the last meal of a decade and to see if the long-standing whispers were true. No pressure, Bluebird.
There’s plenty of reasons why restaurants and bars make it onto my bucket list: award-winning status, unique dishes, novelty moments for the gram (yes, guilty as charged). Bluebird, however, falls into the looks department. Once a garage in the 90s and taken over by the notorious D&D Group, the restaurant today features industrial quirks, including dark red metal beams, Art Deco nods and a first floor eatery that doubles as a mini rainforest. Bluebird also has a downstairs cafe and an alfresco courtyard that’s always heaving come summer, but for this meal we were dining upstairs, escorted to one of the window tables in the far corner where we could see London buses zipping by in the torrential rain outside.
Arriving at 7pm on a Friday night, the upstairs restaurant at Bluebird was surprisingly quiet. I used this time to have a quick wander around the space, spotting that it’s cleverly split into sections with the oval bar sitting at the centre of the room. Tall plants and foliage shelter booth tables from onlookers and add plenty of backdrops for pretty pictures. Keeping in line with the interiors, the menu was just as eye-catching boasting a fun watercolour sketch of the venue. Split into the usual starters, mains and desserts, Bluebird goes the extra mile with a fruits de mer section that happens to have one of my favourite dishes: dressed Cromer crab (£19.50). It came presented in its shell under a vat of crushed ice alongside chunky golden slices of toasted sourdough. Empty crab shell and melted ice cleared away and another glass of Mirabeau Azure Provence Rosé 2021 (£48) poured from the bottle, we only had to wait 10 to 15 minutes for our mains.
My friend ordered the roasted duck breast (£26.5.50) that came with confit duck leg croquette, garlic mash potato, poached kumquats and baby turnips with duck jus while I tucked into the pan-fried turbot (£39.50), also known as one of the most expensive fish on the market. One mouthful, and you can see why. Sweet yet mild in flavour, the fish itself was elevated by the spectrum of flavours brought to life from the shrimp butter, girolles, cucumber and borlotti beans. It’s a comforting and wholesome dish that I’d recommend any fish enthusiast to try. Never ones to shy away from ordering sides, we shared a potion of silk-like truffle mash (£5.50) and chilli-sprinkled tenderstem broccoli (£5.50).
Needing a good 30 minutes to digest our food before we could even think about looking at dessert, we naturally refuelled with a cocktail. Opting for a classic instead of one of the signature cocktails, we ordered a spicy margarita with a salt rim (£15) and a negroni (£15). The negroni was on the money but sadly the spicy margarita didn’t live up to its price tag with the balance of flavours slightly off. Dessert, however, got us back on track as we had two spoons and a cream-topped pavlova (£9.50) to get through, not to mention the welcome lift in atmosphere thanks to a now-very-busy restaurant that seemed to fill up as quickly as I had inhaled my starter. The hard shell of the pavlova was decorated with seasonal roasted figs, pickled blackberries, pistachio and generous dribbles of damson coulis with the marshmallow soft center, like any good pavlova, light as a feather.
The DesignMyNight Digest
My bucket list might not be packed with destinations and adrenaline-pumping activities but a good restaurant has the ability to take you on a trip around the world with a forkful of food. It also acts as the pillar for some of the biggest moments of your life, from graduation celebrations to a well-earned job promotion. Bluebird Chelsea was my last meal of my 20s and I can confirm that it has helped them end them on a high. Spenny and swish, this D&D restaurant (like all the others) delivers on its reputation to draw in a trendy crowd and tasty dishes but perhaps next time, I'll stick to working through their endless wine section rather than the cocktails.
Get to know more of London's best restaurants and sign up to our London newsletter for all the latest news and reviews.