A habitual fan of the ‘dinner and a show’ concept, when I am visiting any restaurant for the first time I always check the area for interesting events and entertainment.
With Gallery Mess on Kings Road, it was entirely the opposite concept. Attached to contemporary art’s uber-celebrated Saatchi Gallery, this vaulted-ceilinged restaurant beckons visitors to the show after the show.
Attracted by its seasonal menu and a handsome al fresco terrace, it was not surprising to find a bevy of Ladies Who Lunch and Daytime Drinkers joining me for lunch underneath displays of art and exposed brickwork. Though it has been rumoured that Nigella Lawson – the wife of the gallery’s eponymous owner – has eaten the entire menu in one sitting, my dining accomplice and I did not have the stomachs to match her impressive feat.
Instead, we carefully selected starters of warm chicken liver salad, smoked bacon, poached egg, and croutons (£10.50) – simplistically perfect – alongside an equally perfunctory plate of beef carpaccio with heritage carrot salad (£11.50) which cut eat component’s flavours into enticing pockets of flavour.
As a main, I found the roast chicken with confit garlic, lemon, thyme and roast potatoes (£16.50) to be perfectly cooked if not a shred oversalted on the spud front. Though a beautiful roast ‘red leg’ partridge breast (£16.75) seemed to lack a tenderness that I have come to expect from my game, the dish was invigorated by supplements of celeriac purée, savoy cabbage and pancetta.
Egged on by an adorably enthusiastic waiter to throw down Mess’ apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla ice cream (£6.50), the dessert far exceeded expectations. While their delightful blood orange crème brulée (£6.75) was torched with tartness, it was no match for the warmth and fragility of the aforementioned crumble. Swoon.
Charmed in equal measure by the waitstaff, food, and table neighbours, I found Gallery Mess to be anything but eponymous.