Black and Blue

Published on View London on 6th June 2011:

Black and Blue is an informal new venue in Chelsea that’s good for catching up with friends over generous portions of steaks, burgers and other meaty things.

The Venue
Located on King’s Road, Black and Blue is the latest venue in the chain, and the brainchild of Nick Hill and Alan Bacon. Their aim is to create an upmarket but casual steakhouse, which has plenty of dining options for everyone. The entrance of the restaurant creates an open plan layout – it feels like a café rather than a restaurant. The doors open across the entire width of the entrance giving a good view of the bar and the restaurant within. A couple of tables outside the front of the restaurant offer opportunities for alfresco dining but inside there’s plenty of natural light from a ceiling window. There’s a good selection of tables and booths creating a casual atmosphere without being too informal. On one side, the walls are painted very boldly, with a few slightly faded blocks of colour offering a nod to the great man himself (it used to be called Picasso), whilst the other side sees subtle reminders of what’s on offer, with Picasso-esque etchings of cattle adorning the wall.

The Atmosphere
For a steak restaurant, the clientèle is surprisingly female-heavy and most are quite young – in their 20s and 30s. Small groups of three or four seem to stream in regularly, along with the occasional family, which is unlike the usual heave of the after-work crowd found in the bars down the road. The venue is busy without being overwhelmed and the acoustics make conversation easy. Facilitating that conversation is the staff with their attentive service – frequently offering to top up your drink and asking if you need anything else.

The Food
There is a very large selection of starters to choose from (priced at between £5 and £9), with bar style snacks and some other more formal options too. The pâté of foie gras with toasted brioche, for example, wouldn’t go amiss in a high end restaurant but you can also keep things simple with mixed olives, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. The pan-fried Scottish scallops are beautifully presented in their shells but showcase the difficulty there is in achieving perfection during cooking. The crayfish and guacamole salad is fantastically fresh and benefits from cooling crème fraiche, but it’s just a little under-seasoned.

For main, there are salads, steaks and burgers as well as other meats and fish. The steaks – sirloin, fillet, rib-eye or côte de boeuf – are served with fries, a separate and very rustic salad and additional sauces, and all are priced between £16 and £30. The steaks are really what Black and Blue wants to be known for, but if you fancied something else, the rack of lamb is also rather good and similarly priced. It comes with mash, green beans and small pots of condiments on a wooden board.

The dessert selection is very concise but there is the option of a cheese board for a little extra. You will, however, be rewarded for choosing the rich and moist chocolate brownie or the creamy, well balanced New York cheesecake.

The Drink
There is a small but good selection of wines to go with dinner as well as liqueurs for afterwards, to be enjoyed at the table or at the bar. The wines come by the glass as well as by the bottle, which is great if you’re being sensible. If you find choosing difficult, the staff will happily recommend something and will even let you sample a little to help you decide.

The Last Word
For a local Chelsea diner, the venue isn’t bad and the service is great. There’s definitely room for improvement with the food though and that’s something to look forward to.

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