Sunday, 16 October 2011

the collection, chelsea

The Collection, Chelsea

I heard it through the grapevine 
Not much longer would you be mine.
Oh I heard it through the grapevine,
Oh and I'm just about to lose my mind. 
Honey, honey yeah.

Well I heard through the grapevine that The Collection in Chelsea had been taken over by new owners.

Huh...really? Tell me more...

Yes really...a new management team and a complete overhaul and revamp of the previously rather worn down appearance by Design Research Studio, headed by Tom Dixon.

Ok, I'm interested...keep talking...

...and new Executive Chef Alex Fanzola, fronting the kitchen for the reworked restaurant.

Ok, talk to me later...I'm already half way there in a taxi!

Hello there, would you like to walk with me down the catwalk?

The Collection hasn't lost its original statement features. You can't miss the 80ft catwalk entrance and let's not forget, probably the longest bar in London.

Peeking over the mezzanine edge feels like spying on a scene from Sex and the City...

Is that your best chat up line?

However, the even bigger and better statement is the restaurant, with its cleverly placed open kitchen. Close enough to see the magic happen live, but expertly shielding back the noise so not to draw focus away from the dining experience.

The bronze cluster lamps hanging from the ceiling, let you know Tom Dixon has left his stamp on the place.

Feels like I'm watching a televised chef show...

Bronze cluster lamps

Italian Executive Chef Alex Fanzola, brings with him the very best from Mediterranean cooking. I'm told by the passionate and humorous man himself that he uses NO butter or cream. Olive oil is used in all the cooking. A big emphasis is on the great olive oil. Health friendly and packing a punch of flavour. A first glimpse of this is with the bread. A wonderful trio of basil, truffle and lemon zest extra virgin olive oil. The gorgeous bread is made the night before always using a bit of leftover sourdough, resulting in tasty focaccia and fried bread.

Basil infused extra virgin olive oil

Tradition coupled with the finest quality ingredients, sourced from suppliers such as the organic Laverstoke Park and premium London butchers, O'Shea's of Knightsbridge make for a mouth watering array of dishes. I discover that true creative geniuses will go far for their craft, as I'm told an amusing story of some hay snatching from a field in the country before some serious dish testing. Alas it was clearly a success due to spotting the 'hay roasted lamb shank' sitting confidently on the menu.

There is a generous selection of small plates, and light enough to share more than one, which is encouraged as there are so many different accents to ummm and ahhh over. Dishes such as creamy burrata, salty and sweet chorizo and sweet potato and baked prawn with basil emulsion and roasted garlic.

Creamy burrata, chorizo and sweet potato

The main dishes are impressive with combinations of clay baked baby chicken with pomegranate molasses, herbe'ed polenta and slow cooked sturgeon and chanterelles. The waiter wips out the equipment he needs to debone the salt crusted sea bass in front of you. I was a little un-nerved by the stark appearance of the lamb shank on the chunky wooden board, but the waiter offers to debone it, and I'm happy to discover this also means presenting all the ingredients together. A perfect blend of melt in the mouth lamb, creamy artichoke puree, pistachio sauce and rich jus.

Salt crusted sea bass with Mediterranean sauce

Hay roasted lamb shank pre deboning

Save room for dessert. A surprising favourite was the cold fragrantly scented rice pudding which held its neat shape unlike hot steaming gelatinous versions of the past. A must is the heavenly hazelnut and the pistachio ice-cream. Light and creamy.

Dinner is divine, but fear not, The Collection is open from 10am in the morning until late, and the new private retail spaces will host a series of one-off 'pop-up' stores, collaborating with renowned jewellers, designers and artists to showcase their work, so there is much to be enjoyed from this greatly improved establishment.

The Collection, 264 Brompton Road, London, SW3 2AS
Opening Times: Daily for lunch and dinner, from 10am – Midnight.


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