Test Driving Adam Handling Chelsea - high-end cuisine (with chicken butter) in Chelsea

restaurant2The back dining room at Adam Handling Chelsea. That table in the corner is a good one to get. 

What can you tell us about Adam Handling Chelsea?

It's the chef's third restaurant in London, following on from The Frog in Hoxton (moved from its original location on Brick Lane) and The Frog in Covent Garden - which he views as his flagship restaurant. This Chelsea spot ditches the Frog moniker and instead highlights the chef himself. Here, you can expect some of Handling's biggest hits, as well as new dishes created just for this restaurant.

Where is it?

It's right in the heart of Chelsea - about mid-way down Sloane Street, and is part of the swanky new hotel The Belmond Cadogan (from the same people behind Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons). If you're tubing it, the easiest way is to get to Knightsbridge's Sloane Street exit and walk down.

Where should we meet for a drink first?

The easy answer is - here. This part of Sloane Street isn't blessed with the best bars, but Adam Handling Chelsea changes that with a bar that's a destination all in itself. A few days after opening, this bar was already busy and it's easy to see why. There's a great cocktail menu featuring inventive drinks using all manner of bespoke ingredients, and some great theatricality too. For instance, the arrival of the cocktail menu is a thing in itself - as it contains a little aperitif to keep you going while you choose your cocktail. 

As for our cocktails, we tried the Mother - which combined distilled celeriac, apple juice, date syrup and truffle (£18) - designed to be an alcoholic version of one of the starters on the menu. We're going to call this one ambitious - but I'm afraid it didn't hit the mark for us. But making up for that is the spectacular Pina Co-lager (Bacardi Cuatro, pineapple cordial, toasted coconut, salted caramel soda - £15). It's extraordinary, delivered in a bottle, pours and looks like a lager - but tastes like a pina colada. Well worth ordering. 

And moving into the restaurant - where should we sit?

It's a restaurant of three parts - so there are options here. If you love being part of the action, the first area is right in front of the kitchen pass - indeed the first table you'll see as you walk through is for four and all seats face the action. And there are a couple more tables there with a full view of the kitchen. 

Moving through - the main restaurant is in two rooms (the hotel/restaurant has taken over a few listed buildings - the restaurant area used to be courtesan Lillie Langtry's front room). So you can either be in the more private room to the back, or in the central section where you can still catch a small view of the open kitchen.

And what about the food - are some of the Adam Handling staples still here?

Indeed they are. Before you even get to the first course, you'll get your hands on these...

doughnutsUp first are the warm truffle cheese doughnuts.

chickenbutterAnd that's followed by one of our favourite things in the world - Adam Handling's chicken butter. Now the standard cultured butter here is excellent - but that chicken butter is divine. We've seen it imitated, but never bettered (and apparently you can buy it in his City deli, Bean and Wheat). 

And what about the main event?

It's a simple starter/main dessert affair - with starters in the £20s and mains mainly in the £30s. So it's clear from the outset that we're in a high-end pricing point here (but it's not too far off from the Covent Garden The Frog). There's also a seven-course tasting menu for £120.

The a la carte was a menu where we found ourselves liking the sound of pretty much everything on offer. But decisions had to be made - and here's what we went with:

crabButter-poached king crab, carrot, sorrel (£28) - a nice touch with the confit carrot at the back. 

sweetbreadsVeal sweetbreads, English peas, morels, wild garlic (£26) - it's not quite spring,yet, but eating this dish made us feel like we were right in the middle of it.

wagyuHighland Wagyu beef and cheek, marrow crumble, beer onions, caramelised white onion and miso puree (£42) - the wagyu beef in this dish was magnificent. Pair it with the truffle mash to elevate further. 

chickenRoasted chicken, Jerusalem artichoke puree, white asparagus, frozen liver (£30) - if you don't traditionally order a chicken dish in restaurants because it's not all that interesting, be prepared to have those preconceptions smashed. There's a really theatrical presentation of this too <no spoilers>.

truffledmashTruffle mash (£10). Because, why wouldn't you?

asparagusNew season asparagus and 3 corner leek bearnaise (£8) - with a sauce so good we'd happily have licked the plate if weren't in fancy Chelsea.

How is the menu for vegetarians?

There's one option on each course - the aforementioned "Mother" for starters (Celeriac, truffle, yolk, apple - £21) and for a main, there's the gorgeous-sounding truffle custard with miso potatoes, peas and morels (£35). Plus there's a separate vegan and vegetarian tasting menu. 

And desserts?

Desserts are all £15 and it is worth holding back for them - although it's worth noting that you will also get a good helping of petit fours, so sharing may also be something to consider. Here's what we had. 

rhubarbPoached rhubarb, saffron custard, jasmine tea sable (£15) - a perfect sized and judged dessert after our rich dinner.

chocolateChocolate stout, whipped miso, buckwheat crumb (£15). 

How about drinks?

There's quite the extensive wine list and price-wise, it's definitely a little on the punchy side. Glasses start at £8.50 a glass (£45 a bottle) and you can head upwards to the £600ish mark if you really want to splash out. The cheapest bottle on the menu is £35, but you'll have to find that deep in the list. Or at the other end  you could try the "Masseto, Tenuta Dell ‘Ornellaia, Tuscany – 2006" - that's a mere £1600!


Joining up with Belmond has given Adam Handling a great home in Chelsea. He's set up what could well be a destination bar for the area and the kitchen is turning out continuously innovative dishes, backed up with some Handling classics. 

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Adam Handling Chelsea. Prices are correct at the time or writing.  


More about Adam Handling Chelsea

Where is it? Belmond Cadogan Hotel, 75 Sloane St, Chelsea, London SW1X 9SG

How to book: Book online or call 0207 199 8370.

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @adamhandlingchelsea


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