After years of neglect, the 138-year-old King’s Road establishment, The Cadogan Arms has been given a much-needed reboot thanks to hospitality kings of-the-moment JKS Restaurants. This is the group’s first foray into publand and it doesn’t disappoint, with a two Michelin-starred chef at the helm and a sensitive restoration that makes the most of the pub’s gleaming timber and traditional, old-school staples – dartboard included. For the sort of comforting winter favourites you can only find in a really good local, The Cadogan Arms is our London restaurant of the week.
When JKS Restaurants, the hospitality supremos behind Gymkhana, Lyle’s, Kitchen Table and Bibi, open their first pub, you know it’s going to be special. The first sign the stars were aligned over their revival of SW3 institution The Cadogan Arms was the appointment of James Knappett, holder of two Michelin stars at Kitchen Table, as culinary director. Knappett grew up in pubs, and from the magic words – ham, egg and chips – on the menu, it’s clear he holds them dear.
Of course, this being a Chelsea pub and a JKS one to boot, it is no ordinary pub. There’s not a tatty carpet nor fruit machine in sight; instead, sprays of chic dried flowers and peacock feathers, plush velvet upholstery, and polished timber for days.
Even more importantly, the glistening row of taps running the length of the hand-carved bar, promises a great pint – perhaps a sessionable table saison from Wales or The Cadogan Arms’ own Cornish pilsner, a collaboration with Harbour Brewery. Beyond beer, there’s an impressive wine list with some toppy bottles from Burgundy and Bordeaux, and modern cocktails such as lemon verbena Palomas and teeny tiny Hanky Panky chasers. As with all the best boozers, one’s tempted to move in immediately. One would certainly be well fed.
There’s a good mix of ‘pub grub’ – I can’t resist the retro prawn cocktail, Scotch egg and chicken Kiev – and some more elegant ‘restaurant’ cuisine such as raw and pickled vegetables bagna càuda and roasted turbot on the bone with brown shrimps. To finish three courses is a tall order, however. These are proper pub portions! I’d urge you to save space for the sherry trifle, however, a kitsch classic finished with a piped whorl of crème fraîche. I’ve already booked a return visit to try the Sunday roast. The Cadogan Arms is a local to cross town for.