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Restaurant Review: The Builders Arms, Chelsea in London

The Builders Arms

On one of the intriguing streets that quietly weave away from the Kings Road, The Builders Arms boasts a desirable location in Chelsea. Located within a three-story Georgian townhouse the exterior seemingly fits with the old world affluent surroundings and whenever I’ve previously passed by, it has always presented itself with popularity – constantly hosting groups spilling out onto its residential pavement.

The Builders Arms
Enjoy fine food, fine ales and fine wine in a setting which is homely yet modern with that indefinable Chelsea feel

Inside from the suave exterior, a recent renovation features a louder colour scheme. The concept of traditional English pub décor long forgotten, The Builders Arms is a palate of royal blue and turquoise with an eclectic mix of eccentric artwork and fabrics reminiscent of shopping in a souk. My description does make this place sound a little disorientating, but thrown in with the buzz of the local crowd with the glow of open fire within the corner, this modern mutation somehow works.

Twisted with pub classics and an overall gastro affair, I cannot say the menu particularly excites me. Starters include soup of the day, crab and avocado on sourdough or chicken liver parfait, many topped with truffle seemingly just to take it up a notch. Saying this, from a previous visit, the baked Somerset camembert, roasted and studded with garlic and rosemary; finished with truffle honey and toasted soldiers did – naturally my guest and I started with cheesy delight.

The Builders Arms has plenty to offer from fresh British food, delicious guest ales, soothing Champagne and a delicious wine list

A selection of steaks all from the UK, The Builders Arms source all their meat from their own butcher – great to note yes, but these, along with many other reincarnated pubs these days, seem to oversell their steaks which can often be a total hit or miss. From a previous visit, I was led to believe that the steaks were the disappointing option, thankfully this time my guest was not disappointed and enjoyed a tender fillet steak with creamy béarnaise sauce and some salty skinny fries. Must have been her lucky day.

Leaning more towards the ideal of homemade comfort food, I order the Billingsgate fish pie with cheesy mash that is topped with a baked egg and a side of spinach. A dish that does what it says on the tin, so to speak, there isn’t much to write home about – especially in comparison to my mother’s. Other mains featured include the Builders Arms burger, beef feather blade stew, grilled lobster or pan roasted lemon sole. To finish we share their inventive chocolate scotch egg – perfect to conclude over coffee.

The Builders Arms
This trendy gastro pub is situated in the back streets of Chelsea

The Builders Arms may not be what is expected in several ways. With a beautiful setting, filled with English heritage I really, really want to love this place. The décor is different and is a bit funky – but it’s fun and works; complementing its local audience and creating a relaxed environment with creative touches I could steal for my own home. Despite following this recent renovation, there are the overlooked areas that are equally in need of some thoughtful TLC – these including the scrambled service and, in parts, rather ordinary menu. Aside from this, if you’re in the area – grab yourself a Merlot and squeeze in by the fire and vivid blue walls for an atmosphere that is cosy yet creative.

Address: The Builders Arms: 13 Britten Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 3TY / 0207 349 9040