Restaurant review: The Builders Arms – Chelsea, London

The Builders Arms review Chelsea London
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Tim Firmager

Tim divides his time being a Digital Consultant in The City and as a food and travel writer across the globe. When he's not working as one of the Lifestyle Editors here at Vada, he's planning his next trip, or on the lookout for the latest food crazes or unusual foods in London's markets.
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The Builders Arms, a three-storey Georgian townhouse, is just a few hundred yards from the King’s Road. It’s therefore popular with locals and those on a day out shopping on Chelsea’s main thoroughfare. The Builders Arms has been newly bedecked in a vibrant colour scheme.

As you enter the ground floor of the The Builders Arms, you’ll discover a cosy main dining room, a welcoming bar adorned with illuminated bespoke spirits and craft beers, with a nook further back that’s ideal for intimate catch ups. We were hoping to get a seat by the fireplace, but even on a Tuesday evening The Builders Arms is popular so settled for a table in the middle of the dining room.

A variety of starters, all gastro- in description and -pub in essence, with a touch of Chelsea class. Take, for example, the wild & chestnut mushrooms on sourdough toast with truffle oil and a fried duck egg (£7.50). The basic concept of mushrooms on toast, served with a fried egg – as in all British pubs, now incorporates a duck egg and truffle oil as slightly more ingredient. The use of sourdough as the gastronomic twist. Equally, the soup of the day (£6.50) – leek and potato on our visit, was embellished with moreish taste of truffle to the craved crunch of croutons.

The pub is renowned for its steak specials and has a ‘Builders Cuts’ chalkboard menu – updated daily with prime British beef from traditional family butcher Frank Godfrey. The choice for our main courses was therefore half-made for us. We both ate British steaks, in the form of an 8oz sirloin steak (£29) and a slightly disappointingly sized 6oz fillet steak (£31), both served with fries, watercress salad and our choice of peppercorn sauce. The sauce was more water than sauce, which did disappoint, despite the novelty cow-shaped pouring jugs. The steak, however was cooked well and exactly as we had asked.

A generous portion of summer fruit crumble with custard, and chocolate cake were the basis of dessert. The former being traditionally comforting, but the latter lacking the Chelsea class that the starters possess. The dessert that makes The Builders Arms stand out though, is the Chocolate Scotch Egg, a playful take on the picnic classic that will set cocoa-lovers’ hearts aflutter.

The Builders Arms is the perfect retreat for chilled Chelsea days, welcoming and comfortable with service from staff being friendly and helpful. We found reasonably priced suppers available; however the steak sauces did not live up to expectation and the chocolate cake was mediocre rather than marvellous. The location is ideal for those shopping on or near Kings Road, with some impressive menu items.

The Builders Arms is found at 13 Britten Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 3TY

For more information and to book, visit thebuildersarmschelsea.co.uk.

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