Finally! A taste of real urban chic on the King’s Road. If you’re tired of the Chelsea cheese then Jam Tree could be the answer.
Past all of the luxury bed and chandelier shops, at the end of the pure OTT indulgence that is the modern day King’s Road, is Jam Tree – the antithesis of the pomp that fills the area. This is a laid back spot with an edgy feel that’s pitched just right for the Chelsea postcode. The small space centres around a long bar, exposed brickwork, a funky little birdcage, large metal light fittings, and Warhol-style artwork on the wall which were such a cool embellishment to the original Jam Tree in West Ken. However, this is Chelsea, not Shoreditch, and so the chandeliers, simple tree-print wallpaper, fireplace and neutral colourscheme add an upmarket edge that the locals will appreciate. It’s a clever mix. The real icing on the cake is the large beer garden out the back, which is nicely put together and sure to be very popular in the summer months.
This is Chelsea so expect well-to-do, attractive punters in their twenties-to-thirties looking to splash the cash. However, with events such as the launch party that saw Norman Jay take to the decks, there’s a cool edge to the atmosphere here, which is so often missing in similar bars up and down this road. The DJ box is nestled at the far end of the room and as the evening wears on, the mood turns the pub into an impromptu dance floor.
The food is a good twist on the usual gastropub fare, with some interesting options alongside more traditional dinnertime favourites. For example, a starter of Sotong Manis (£7.50) arrives as a generous portion of perfectly cooked sticky squid in a light batter covered in a flavoursome, well-balanced chilli, garlic and spring onion dipping sauce. This is mixed with main courses like the new season lamb rump (£14.50), cooked to specification but best ordered pink to make the most of the succulent, juicy meat and sweet, tender flavour. Served with Jersey Royals, peas and a delightfully subtle mint jus it’s a good example of the skills that the kitchen employ. Alternatively, the cod and prawn fishcakes (£10.50) are light and perfectly cooked with a pleasant floury texture and deep fish flavour. Served with spring greens, a runny poached egg and a perfectly seasoned parsley sauce, it’s excellent value for the price.
Finally, the selection of British cheese is a winner for dessert, but if it’s a sweet treat you crave then the treacle tart (£6.50) is happily sickly sweet, served with a pot of cream and a white chocolate ice cream that surprisingly cuts through the sweetness well for a nicely balanced dish.
For a bar of its type, it’s good that Jam Tree has made an effort to include some decent lagers on draught. However, it’s the wine list that really impresses. The lengthy choice offers good value for money with prices starting at just £16. And the menu is very descriptive, making choosing a bottle all the easier. A stand-out choice is the Julio Bouchon Merlot 2008 from Chile (£23) with a tropical fruit finish and depth that works particularly well with meat dishes like the lamb.
The Last Word
Jam Tree is a pleasant change of pace for the King’s Road and, if the locals can embrace the East London styling, it is sure be a big success.