I discovered Bumpkin in searching for a perfect lunch venue for my friend's 21st. This was to be a fun, special, low-key event for the both of us to celebrate our belated and up-coming birthdays together. Laura and I spent our year abroad together in France from October 2014 to April 2015 and took advantage of the great French cuisine, especially with their excellent 'Midi formule' lunch menus. We both love a good natter with some delicious food to match and I hoped Bumpkin would be the perfect place to celebrate this occasion.
When doing my research, I was drawn to Bumpkin for its typically British features; the white, cream 'tearoom' style, typical quaintness (something that Laura and I love) and of course its seasonally British menu. Bumpkin have four branches; in Chelsea, South Kensington, Notting Hill and Westfield. However, I found out that the beautiful garden dining area was only in the Chelsea branch on Sydney Street, and so this was the one it had to be. Off we went to Chelsea!
I made a booking with a special reservation to be sat outside and we had no problems being seated; the staff here are really friendly and helpful. This is the dining area outside, adjacent to a flower and plant nursery where you can browse and take a look at the beautiful greenery afterwards. It really added to the great English garden feel of the restaurant. Although it was chilly outside, Bumpkin has heaters by each table so we weren't left cold.
The menu really boasted the best of British food - the choices of seafood and meat were particularly outstanding. Salmon Wellington, Staunch of Venison, Line-Caught Bristol Channel Cod, Dry-Aged Fillet Steak - my mouth is watering just thinking about it again! Bumpkin describes itself as 'Great British Brasserie'. A Brasserie is originally french for a restaurant or a brewery with a modern, relaxing atmosphere. The combination of a traditionally French dining concept with Great British, locally-sourced food was inevitably going to be a favourite for Laura and I then wasn't it?
I chose a London Iced Tea, one of my favourites and Laura had the Spiced Winter Fruit Mojito! We had a lovely little surprise before ordering our food as well... two glasses of Prosecco! What a delightful surprise. We definitely were two happy bunnies after this. We decided to choose the Set Menu and have a starter and mains each and then go somewhere else for cakes afterwards. The Set Menu was £15 for two courses or £20 for 3 courses. The Set Menu was much more limited, only three choices for each course, but they were still excellent choices so we had no issue coming to that decision.
For our starters we chose:
Foraged Mushrooms, Garlic, Parsley, on Sourdough Toast
Conwy Mussels, Aspall Cyder, Cream, Tomato, Parsley
Conwy, a small fishing town in North Wales is famous for their hand-raked mussels. Although I've been to Wales on many occasions, this was the first time tasting Conwy mussels in Aspall's Cyder. They were really fresh and succulent; they could have benefited slightly with a bit more seasoning to the cream. I am comparing these however to French 'Moules Frites' and I have to say although these were good, the French/Belgian version still wins my vote. The best part is always mopping up the cream with the fresh bread. Laura said her Foraged Mushrooms were beautiful.
Seabass and Fresh Garden Vegetables
Braised Ox-Cheek Pie
The Ox-Cheek pie was really fantastic. I loved how it was only a pastry-lid pie (less calories) but also because the Ox-Cheek had so much of its own fat and richness, more pastry was not needed. The meat was really fresh and well-cooked and also generous amounts of it were inside the pie. There's nothing worse than finding very little meat in a dish. Again, perhaps it could have done with a bit more seasoning but overall, I really hearty, yummy dish.
The atmosphere was really peaceful and quiet which is exactly what you want when you're there to talk and catch up. This was a Thursday lunch time and it was almost empty but it started to pick up during the afternoon and I'm sure the evenings are much busier. When it started the rain, the cover goes up so you are not restricted to staying indoors with London's current, miserable weather. We had a really good experience at Bumpkin. I felt it was particularly good for special occasions because of the lovely décor, great food and welcoming staff. I think we felt extra giddy eating out in Chelsea and in eating somewhere that celebrates the greatness of British cuisine. Two English girls for a very British afternoon.