Blakes is a luxury restaurant, part of the iconic, boutique hotel of the same name. It was originally conceived by renowned hotelier and interior designer Anouska Hempel, who designed each one of its individual rooms and restaurant. Now owned by Navid Mirtorabi, it has undergone major refurbishment over the years. The hotel is located within the deep bowels of leafy, residential Chelsea; its all-black facade proudly standing apart from the neighbouring terraced houses.
The interiors of the restaurant are stylish, done in all black with gold accents. Whilst on paper that may sound a bit dark and moody, in reality the space is lovely, bright and ravishing.
During weekends, Blakes becomes a relaxed dining destination, teeming with families and small groups.
We were invited by Head Chef Peter Del Campo to sample their daily menu. The food is a confluence of Pan-Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. The hotel historically served Asian fusion food so they have kept some of those signature dishes which are way too popular to mess with or remove. However, a lot of the new creations have a Mediterranean twist to them. In keeping with the times, they have also introduced some vegan dishes.
We kicked off with an amuse-bouche of Baked Artichoke Hearts with Truffle Oil and Truffle Mayo. It was quite an intriguing eating experience where you peel off the layers one by one, dunk them into the rich, earthy mayo and suck the pulp out before throwing it away. The house-made sesame crackers and crisp breads were delightful and incredibly moreish too.
From the starters, my heart was set on the Soft Shell Crab (£17), which is from their Signature collection. It was full of Oriental inflections, enlivened further by a pleasantly sharp Nan Jim dressing. The portion was generous enough to share between two but to be honest you really don’t want to share this dish.
Kris ordered the Hand Dived Scallops (£18). The scallops were buttery soft and nicely caramelised, tasting wonderfully of the sea. The presentation was very bright and colourful. One of them came perched on a smooth and velvety saffron sauce whilst the other came on a bed of verdant pea purée. Both were exquisite, but the saffron sauce was my favourite.
To accompany our starters, we were offered a vegan Avocado Salad (Fennel, Baby Artichokes and Honey Lemon Dressing) and plump Maldon Rock Oysters (Cabernet Sauvignon Vinaigrette, Lemon) as compliments from the Chef.
For his main, Kris opted for the Black Miso Cod (£38), another one of Blakes’ original star creations. It came with his beloved courgette flower, so no prizes for guessing as to why he ordered this one. It was minimalistic in presentation with the focus more on the complex flavours. The silky cod was tender, falling apart under the knife. It was nicely seared on one side so you get a bit of texture too. The singular courgette flower had been lightly battered and fried. The flower itself was wonderful in the sense you get an overall softness with a hint of bite.
I had the English Suffolk Lamb Rack (£38) on a bed of crushed, minty peas. Three succulent, tasty portions of lamb rounded off with a delicious veal jus poured on top was like a meaty dream for me!
We didn’t have much room left for dessert but we couldn’t resist Chef Peter’s offer to try his Vegan Tiramisu (Tofu, Cashew Nuts, Coffee, Mint). If there is one thing that turns us off about Tiramisu is how it can be overly rich and cloying. It was not the case here. The flavours were on point but there was a lightness to it and the cashew added a nutty texture. It was delightful and refreshing; perfectly sized too for after a heavy meal.
The service matched up to the food. The staff were chatty, smiley, attentive and knowledgeable. The chef himself kindly popped out of his kitchen and spoke to us about the history of the hotel and inspiration behind the current menu.
After our meal, we had a little behind-the-scened tour of one of their beautifully designed rooms, the underground cocktail bar Blakes Below and The Garden redesigned by Matthew Williamson (amazing for alfresco gatherings all year round).
Working in Chelsea for the last five years, I was surprised I hadn’t looked into this place sooner. Now that I have, I am definitely recommending it. The prices are on the higher side so expect to splurge. But it’s a good option for when you want to put the style and charm into a special occasion meal, date or weekend get-together.
Location : 33 Roland Gardens, London SW7 3PF
More information can be found here.
N.B. Our meal was discounted as we were guests of Chef Peter del Campo but all photos and opinions are strictly mine.