When it comes to Gourmet Pubs, London is the best place to be. But of all the London Boroughs it’s the Chelsea & Kensington and Fulham Boroughs that seem to be exemplary at them. There’s the Harwood Arms (with a Michelin star no less), the brand new Tommy Tucker (blog soon to follow), the Crabtree, the Pear Tree, the Phene, the Brown Cow – the list is never ending.
The Cross Keys is the oldest pub in Chelsea (it is said JMW Turner used to be a regular) and it gained a lot of attention when it was threatened to be shut down and turned into a five bedroom house. Petitions were drawn up, celebrities voiced their opinion, and so the pub remained. Now, after having been boarded up since 2012, it has re-opened after a huge renovation which has turned this always charming pub, into one of my favourite in London. The new landlords are the owners of DM Group, who boast a number of other great pubs, like the aforementioned Brown Cow and the Sand’s End in Fulham.
They’ve turned the Cross Keys into a contemporary gourmet pub, with rustic touches. Divided in two – the ‘pub’ part and the restaurant part – the owners searched hard to find suitable furniture to fit in, such as the huge wooden shutters from Portugal and French pig farm benches. The result is a success.
The Cross Keys aims to be accessible to all – for those who want a posh dinner to those who just want a beer and a scotch egg. The bar takes centre stage, offering an array of London-brewn beers and good house wines. A plate of freshly made sausage rolls sits alluringly on the bar, impossible to resist when ordering a drink.
We didn’t have a sit down dinner or lunch here (though the food is meant to be really good), just a few drinks and a sausage roll. But the atmosphere and friendly service really draw you to this place. Prices are not unreasonable – or unusual – for a pub in Chelsea, and it’s location in a quiet side street off the Kings Road means that it’s not too heaving. Highly recommended.
1 Lawrence Street,
London SW3 5NB
Photos the Cross Keys’ own