Friday, 27 May 2011

The Hand and Chelsea Flowers

Surprise surprise our favourite UK April showers arrived later than desired and a ‘summers’ May Thursday evening turned into a sprint for the 22 bus whilst being pelted with hailstones. This was equally timely as one of our most prestigious local events, The Chelsea Flower show, was in full bloom, proving destructive for my hair, the traffic and the poor flowers.

However a rescue remedy was in the 22’s sight and the aptly named Hand and Flower pub immediately offered a basket of warm bread, a comforting wine list and a beautiful waitress named Francesca. I had promised my father- somewhat of a ‘gastropub’ connoisseur living in leafy Surrey- a delicious local dinner that was worth the 80 minute crawl up the A3 from Reigate.

We were immediately seated with ease next to the open plan kitchen where we could spy Head Chef Adam England searing his steaks and pieces of cod- he looked relaxed and within moments so were we. The Hand and Flower is reminiscent of a Victorian Summer house but also has qualities of a Pall Mall gentleman's club  with red velvet curtains, plush maroon cushions and oversized retro lampshades. Contrasting with this opulent decor is a stunning glass ceiling that allows the evening light (May hailstones in our case) to shine into the restaurant enhancing the stylish Kings Road 'strip' and red suede loafers atmosphere.

Adam did us very proud. I went for the full girlie ‘Chelsea Flower Show’ straw hat option and decided on the ‘ceviche of scallops with lime & cucumber’ followed by the ‘baked sea bass with basil oil’. My father, the veteran of many a Greek summer in a certain local taverna in Corfu, unsurprisingly chose the char grilled halloumi to start and then opted for a manly pork chop which he thought could have had more sauce.

We found all the dishes extremely impressive and were instantly relaxed into the swing of the dressed down city boy culture that was emerging around us. You cannot deny that the food is of an extremely high quality here. Head chef Adam favours trendy establishments such as The Gun in Greenwich during his time off and obviously has a real passion for good quality yet sexy and contemporary versions of traditional dishes. He likes “the simple things, done well”- a quality I cannot dispute he excels in.

The prices at the Hand and Flower are very reasonable compared to some of its SW6 neighbours. The wine was perfectly chilled and delightfully fruity, Francesca our waitress was fabulous and we both left grinning from ear to ear. That was before my Dad realized he had to battle with the A3 and A217 whilst I curled up half a mile down the road in SW6, however I do not doubt that he and I will be back.

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