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29 July 2016

the artisan bistro, chelsea

remember that time i said i don't like travelling to west london unless it involves food or friends? well, thanks to another delicious invitation sliding into my inbox a few weeks ago, and the opportunity to get bex out on a similarly painful journey to my own, it happened twice in one week a few weeks back. together we made our way to an unassuming little bistro off the main drag, a ten minute walk from the nearest tube station, and very much in range rover country.

the artisan bistro was so unassuming in fact, that we walked straight past it. if not for the gorgeous yellow door of the studios next door grabbing our attention, we would have kept walking too. the bistro's giant street-facing window were flung wide open thanks to the evening's incredible weather, and once we were seated right inside them, were grateful for the borough's fresh air and population of electric cars; the floral scent from the herbs and flowers growing outside the restaurant's entrance wafted around us as we perused the incredible menu.

with some fab recommendations from the highly clued-up staff, we started with a few cocktails - it was friday after all! we decided to share a few plates to start - not because we thought it would be super romantic, but because that way you get to eat more food. *upstairs for thinking* we opted for a serve of the patatas bravas with aioli sauce and a platter of garlic prawns because, when they're on the menu, they must be ordered.

firstly, the patatas bravas: they didn't look like much. in fact, they looked like they'd come out of a aunt bessie's freezer bag as the potato was just cut up into fat chunks and served on a log dish. nothing fancy, just plain. nothing like any other patatas bravas i've ever had, because, well i've never had them dry - usually they're in a tomatoey sauce, right? well. let me tell you this: whatever flavouring was on those potato chunks was literally sent straight from heaven.

whatever seasoning was on there was salty and tomatoey at the same time, and the garlic aioli sauce was actually to die for. i was hungry, sure, but i basically wolfed down this dish; i couldn't get enough. sure, the prawns were tasty too, and the wine we were recommended to go with both dishes (hard, as they were so different in flavour) was spot on as far as complimenting them both goes. that is a true achievement.

for my main i opted for another seafood dish, the lobster linguine with scottish lobster, black linguine, mussels, prosecco, and truffle butter, because: how incredibly delicious does that sound?! one thing i forgot to mention earlier is that despite the super mediterranean feel, the bistro strives to serve totally local produce. so yeah, my lobster was scottish. bex ordered the whole roasted baby chicken with glazed baby carrots and chimichuri with a side of deliciou oily green beans, and we shared some truffle and parmesan fries, without the truffle (i'm just not a fan!).

time and time again i say i'll never have pasta as good as in italy, but considering we were not a week back from the very country, i chanced it anyway. and oh my goodness am i glad i did because this time around (in italy), i had some really dodgy dishes. that's not to say that contributed to this pasta being incredible, but with a mediocre comparison, it certainly stood out. the pasta was al dente and the clams and lobster meat were flavoured to perfection. a light and salty tomato sauce added another element to the mix, and although i was slightly disappointed that my meal wasn't floating in a bowl of prosecco, i couldn't have been happier with my meal.

rebekah confirmed her meal tasted like roast chicken, which is always a treat, no? the wine for this course was another white, and another recommendation from the ex-sommelier manager of the bistro. when it comes to people recommending wine, i never really offer more than a sniff and a taste and an "oh yes, that's lovely thanks", but after a quick sip of this one (above) i was like, "yes! that one! pour that one! we want that onnnnne!". safe to say it was a favourite.

did we have room for dessert, no we did not. did we go ahead and order them anyway? hell yes we did. for me, it's always going to be rhubarb crumble when given the option, and for madam - well, since she's on a super strict diet that is mainly protein based, and she's not supposed to eat naughty food, what do you think she ordered? if you guessed chocolate tart, you'd be right.

our wine this course was a fizzy moscato that was easily the highlight of the meal. it was so fresh and fruity, and reminded me so much of the cheap bottles of fizzy wine we used to buy when we were kids and didn't know what good wine was all about. but like, way nicer and actually good wine, unlike then, i mean. seriously, i cannot comment highly enough for the recommendations and varieties of wines on offer in the bistro. with such a selection of meals, from chicken to steak and seafood in between, there's always going to be trouble perfectly pairing a wine to every course, but not here. we had no problems at all. and each wine we had was better than the last.

the staff were so incredibly helpful, friendly and courteous, that we ended up having more than a few chats with them during the evening, completely forgetting our surroundings. there was no air of the classic west london snobbery you expect from neighbourhood restaurants in chelsea, and we shared more than a few smiles with locals as they walked past the bistro's enourmous windows. sure there was the occasional "rah rah" on the breeze, but certainly nothing to put me off going back.

in fact, nothing could put me off going back, and i told the manager so as i thanked him earnestly for such a wonderful experience in his care. do i sound like i'm gushing? good. i mean to. i cannot recommend the artisan bistro enough. not a fan of west london, like me? good. take my word for it, and head over there anyway. you can thank me later.

*our meals were complimentary; all thoughts are my own*