Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Bluebird Chelsea



I've done a few review type posts on my blog recently and as they've been so well received, I've decided to do another. I have lived in Chelsea all my life and it's a lovely area. Lots of white terraced houses with private gardens, super cars zooming down Kings Road and designer stores like Hugo Boss, Tiffany and Cartier on your doorstep. Not that I can afford anything from any of these stores but it's nice to window shop!

I've never really been out in the evening in Chelsea. Before university I hadn't gone clubbing, hadn't really touched any alcohol. At school I was very much the kind of student who just put her head down and made sure she got good grades. I didn't go to house parties in secondary school or bars after sixth form. Those things weren't appealing to me and maybe that sounds boring but I was happy. Once I went to university, I started going out to clubs, drinking, socialising etc as I think most of us do once we get to university. I didn't go crazy. In fact, I really don't like drinking that much at all - just a few cocktails of an evening or a gin and tonic and I'm fine. So apologies, I don't have any insane stories about how I blacked out or got so drunk I fell over in the street or got kicked out of a club by a bouncer. That's really not my style.

Last night we went for some food at the Big Easy in Kings Road. If you haven't been yet, I would definitely recommend. The food was absolutely delicious - full of flavour and decently portioned. I ordered myself a chicken burger and onion rings and one of my friends had a lobster roll whilst the other had a half lobster. Venue wise, it's quite small and a little bit claustrophobic. I think that for a date it could be quite cosy if you're tucked into a corner table, but for an evening with friends, once it got a bit busier I started to feel quite trapped. Atmosphere wise, it was very casual and it's not cheap either, so I think they could do slightly more to make the atmosphere meet the price of the food. If not for the prices I felt like I could have been in Chimichanga or Byron. However, the food was so good that I would definitely go back again.

After food, we decided to go to The Bluebird for some drinks. I've been there for dinner before and the food was absolutely delicious, but I had never been to the actual bar. If you haven't been to The Bluebird then you've probably heard about it, as pretty much everyone goes there or wants to go there. I think it's a really lovely setting and it is definitely one of the focal points of Kings Road. They've always got gorgeous displays on - my favourite is all of the huge tennis balls they put on the roof during Wimbledon. It's also very big and spacious. You've got the option for indoor seating or outdoor seating, with lots of flowers and greenery. If you sit outdoors you can watch your food being prepared in front of you whilst sipping prosecco on heated seats. There is also a café, several shops and a bakery to the right hand side, as well as the bar upstairs. I've seen families, couples, groups of friends and people on their own in there. So really it's generally got something for everyone.

However, service wise? It's getting a thumbs down from me. I thought the service was absolutely shocking and I'll explain why. When we arrived, we asked the waiter for a table for three. He asked us if we wanted to sit outside or inside and once we said outside, he informed us that there were no more heated seats available, so we decided we would sit inside. He then led us through to the café area... at about 8pm in the evening. Not to mention that the café was completely empty, like completely. I'm sure you can imagine our faces when he led us over to a table and encouraged us to sit down - completely isolated from everybody else in the whole setting.

Now I did consider that this could have been our mistake. Asking for a table for three can sometimes automatically imply that you want dinner, however, in the evening I have found that you do usually get asked whether you want to have just drinks or food. Yet, he didn't ask us this. So I decided to go back out and explain to him that we were just looking to have some drinks, not any food. Maybe he didn't realise this, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and politely clarified our intentions to him. After explaining that we were just looking to have drinks, he said to me "Well, you can still have drinks in there."

This is not me being petty, but if there is a bar and a group of people say that they are looking to have drinks, you show them to the bar do you not? This doesn't take exceptional service or even a brain, it's just common sense. Bearing in mind that I have been to The Bluebird before, I knew exactly where the bar was and was therefore acute to the fact that he didn't want to give us the bar as an option. Very rude. It was only when my friend put her foot down and said that we would rather go to the bar that he reluctantly said "Of course, it's up the stairs and to your right." To which I was particularly offended (as was my friend) as we had heard him offering the group before us an option to sit at the bar. So really, for some reason unknown to us, he just didn't want us at the bar.

What I will say, is that once we made it to the bar, I thought the service from the bartender was very good. He was very smiley and friendly and even helped my friend decide on a cocktail based on what different things she liked. It did take a while for our drinks to arrive, but we were busy moaning about how we had been treated previously that by this point that didn't even matter too much.

Once our drinks did arrive, I was almost ready to let things go with the rude waiter downstairs and start enjoying my night. Yet I just felt like some of the female waiters upstairs were giving us weird looks (possibly just my paranoia) as if we didn't really have a right to be there. I considered that maybe we weren't dressed up enough, as I was in flat knee high boots and a leather skirt and one of my friends was in jeans and trainers and a woolly hat. But once I got upstairs and realised that there were plenty of people in jeans and trainers, it became obvious that our choice of clothing wasn't the issue. There were people who looked very dressed up (mostly women) and people who looked casual. There was a mix. I have inserted a picture below to give you an idea of how I looked - not overly dressed up but not massively casual either!



We found ourselves a table, sat down and ordered a couple of drinks for ourselves. The music wasn't too loud so we could hear ourselves speaking and there was a lot of space upstairs so it didn't feel small or uncomfortable. An hour or so in, I was actually really enjoying myself. Yet the final straw for me was when we asked to pay the bill for our table. One of the waitresses brought over the receipt some time after I had to explain to her three times that I wanted the card machine to pay for my drinks. Once she showed us the bill, my friend said she would like to pay for the sauvignon blanc, which for some strange reason seemed to really confuse the waitress, who replied with "Hmm, I don't know what that will be with the service charge split in half...". Deep breaths. The service charge was £2.44 guys. Once again, you don't really need a huge brain to calculate that half of that is £1.22 and that to work this out, all you need to do is add that on to the price of the sauvignon blanc. For some reason this became an unnecessary struggle.

Before anyone says it, I know that in restaurants you usually work out how much you want to pay and then tell the waiter/waitress. But often, in my experience, they will get involved and try to help you work it out too. It's in their best interests to do the calculation themselves, in fact, as otherwise you could just say any random number without paying the full bill. However, this waitress didn't even attempt to work things out. In the end it was my friend who calculated the price, making the waitress look pretty inadequate in my opinion. 

My thoughts on the whole situation is this. As an evening venue, it came across as snobby. It was almost like we weren't posh or rich enough to be accepted in there and then when we wanted to split the bill, it felt like the waitress was wondering why we wouldn't just pay it all in one go. Frankly, I think it's ridiculous, considering that the people that frequent there are mainly just normal people or reality TV starts who really are not that famous at all. And even if it were full of celebrities, so what? Doesn't mean I'm not going to pay for my drinks or the service charge, so what is the problem? You can't judge people on the way they're dressed. I could have millions in my bank account and turn up wearing a plain jumper and jeans - you'd be none the wiser. Additionally, I've been to many restaurants and shops in Chelsea  (The Chelsea Ivy Garden, Cote, Michael Kors, Le Pain Quotidien, Anthropologie etc), considering I've lived here my whole life, and every single one of them have treated me with the same respect, warmth and friendliness as everybody else. I've never had an experience like that until last night and it has very much put me off going back there.

Rant over, I think that if you're looking for a nice spot for dinner or brunch then it's a great place to go. Would I go back for drinks of an evening? The cocktails were nice, although at around £14 each and £10 for a gin and tonic, they weren't cheap! The bartender was very nice and friendly, but the rest of the staff weren't. The décor of the bar specifically was pretty simple and underwhelming and the service as a whole was unwelcoming. So no, it's definitely not top of my list. Sorry Bluebird, you're overpriced and overrated.
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