442 King’s Road
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King's Road French bistro with a strong wine line-up (très bien) but not a menu in sight (zut alors).
If your pre-restaurant ritual includes checking out the menu to see what you fancy later, then a quick scan of their Instagram feed for gratuitous food pics, this French restaurant and wine shop will leave you wondering what to expect (there isn’t even a menu online).
Don’t let that put you off. What they’ve got going on at this smart new corner spot in The World’s End part of Chelsea is a decent concept. There’s a basement ‘bottle shop’ with links to Spirited Wines, which means you can pay 20 quid (including £2 corkage to drink in) for a powerhouse red like the Jean Luc Baldes Clos Triguedina 2011 Malbec. A definite plus.
Now, how about the food? Well, 442 depend on helpful staff to talk you through the very limited options – a salad or cheese and meat platters; a couple of mains; no desserts. That’s your lot.
Despite the lack of options and uncertainty about the size of the bill, the quality is very respectable. A platter of high-grade French cheese and saucisson with a black pepper and salt crust worked perfectly well as a starter to share, while the duck confit main was so tender it practically fell off the bone when threatened with a fork. A crispy-skinned salmon with olive oil-infused mash was also good, but came without sauce or sides. At just over £70 for two, it’s competitively priced.
We visited on a Saturday afternoon when the Sloane end of the King’s Road was heaving with designer-toting types and ‘Made in Chelsea’ wannabes, and there was a huge queue for oysters and champagne at the street food market (we kid you not). Apart from the friendly staff and the classic dub music in the background, 442 was eerily empty. For that to change, they need to sort their menu issues out sharpish.