Last Updated on October 13, 2019 by Fiona Maclean
Chelsea’s favourite local is back!
The Builders Arms, tucked away in the chic enclave surrounding Britten Street, has been a favourite of Chelsea locals since it opened in 1999. Owners Hippo Inns have just given the place a stylishly quirky refurbishment with an exciting new menu of reasonably priced dishes being featured alongside a strong selection of cask ales and wines chosen by Master of Wine, John Clevely.
The interior has an arty country house feel; the upholstery and carpet are done out in ticking fabric and there are distressed wooden tables, books, pottery objects, pineapple lights and a bar decorated with surrealist artwork from award-winning artist Paul Karslake. The pub’s snug seats up to 30 – perfect for private and business events and The Builders Arms even have their own event planner if you are thinking of throwing a party. The kitchen serves British seasonal food; there’s an all-day menu with signature plates including crispy pig’s head with piccalilli; salt-baked tiger prawns with garlic butter and poached Aperol peaches with tonka cream, as well as bar snacks and platters include chicken yakitori skewers, crispy squid with smoked chilli and lime, and meat, cheese and vegetarian sharing boards. On Saturdays there is a brunch offer – think crab butter smothered crumpets with spinach and poached eggs, and on Sundays, there is, of course, a roast. Alongside the wine list, the bar serves classic and delicious-sounding house cocktails include a Salted Caramel Old Fashioned, Bordeaux cask-aged Negroni, and a classic Aperol Spritz from the pub’s dedicated Spritz menu. For our review meal, we tried the organic Momo 2018 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – a lovely wine with a fresh acidity that was buttery with gooseberry notes. From the starters menu we chose a generous portion of prosciutto served with fresh figs, mozzarella with a good splash of aged balsamic. It was a well-composed plate made from good quality ingredients. Salt baked tiger prawns with came with a little pot of garlic butter. It was a bit fiddly getting the prawns out of their salt-encrusted shells but it was ultimately worthwhile with the flavour of the juicy crustaceans getting a welcome kick from the garlic butter. Confit chicken with rosemary and onion potatoes was tender and moist with the chicken breast fragrant and sweet. The smoked salmon and gorgonzola risotto could have been a little more al dente but the truffle paste added a touch of luxury to this perfect autumn dish.
Poached Aperol peaches came with the caramel notes of Tonka cream and almond and rosemary crumble. Whilst the flavours were lovely the crumble would have been even better warm rather than cold now that summer has gone. The sweet acidity of a burnt plum custard tart was perfectly set off by a deliciously indulgent and seasonal cobnut ice cream.
For a relaxed evening out in Chelsea, The Builders Arms is hard to beat. The drinks list has been put together with real care, the food offer is well-executed and not clichéd and the surroundings and service are really comfortable and welcoming with prices that are reasonable for the area. It’s not surprising that it was busy when we visited – it’s clearly already a hit with the locals.
The Builders Arms,
13 Britten Street,
London, SW3 3TY
Telephone: 020 7349 9040
There are plenty of other places to try in Chelsea – we really enjoyed an afternoon tea at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel recently. And, the Ivy Chelsea Garden is a reliable option if you are looking for classic brasserie fare.