Gallery Mess is located within a gallery – that of Charles Saatchi to be precise – but is in no way a mess. Instead, it’s an incredibly attractive restaurant, with vaulted ceilings, pretty fairy lights, exposed brickwork and floor to ceiling windows. The only thing that could be considered ‘littered’ is the wonderful array of contemporary art, which includes a neon cockerel, giant boot, and a wall made entirely from soap.
When we arrived for dinner last Monday, we were surprised to find Gallery Mess two thirds full – not bad on the quietest night of the week. We were seated just beyond the long bar and ordered a bottle of beer for The Boyfriend and an ‘off the menu’ White Lady for me. These came with freshly baked soda bread and some large green olives.
The menu is filled with Pastries (morning only), Soups, Salads & Starters, Sharing Boards, Mains, Puddings, Afternoon Tea and smaller plates for children. Our slightly eccentric waiter told us how most of it changes once a month, depending on what’s in season. The rest are the staples that remain all year round, such as the ‘best fish & chips in London’.
I picked the Warm Squid Salad to start and The Boyfriend went for Warm Chicken Livers. The portions were enormous, making them a perfect option for ‘ladies who lunch’. My squid was tender, without being chewy, pairing perfectly with the pickled shallots and radish. The chicken livers were juicy and rich, tumbling over the soft boiled egg, enhanced by the fried smoked pancetta and soaking into a bed of sour dough toast.
At least one of us should have had Fish & Chips for main, but sadly that top tip came at the end. Instead we went for Pan Fried Sea Bass, which came with swiss chard and a brown shrimp butter, and Chicken Fricassee on top of gnocchi and jerusalem artichoke, with a mushroom and truffle cep sauce.
I’d usually steer clear of food I can easily cook at home, but I was intrigued by the chicken, which turned out to be a good move. The meat was moist, giving the gnocchi a beautiful flavour when teamed with the surrounding artichoke and mushrooms.
We decided to share a Steamed Rhubarb Pudding at the end, which came with vanilla poached rhubarb and clotted cream ice-cream. The pudding was sweet, light and made more intense by the poached rhubarb. Our waiter said it was the best on the menu. We couldn’t compare, but I’m sure it’d be hard to beat.
The whole experience was delightful, making our long, stressful day in the office feel like a distant memory. I’d love to go back in the summer and take advantage of the large terrace. They don’t take bookings for alfresco dining, so getting there early is a must.
The lovely Gallery Mess gets a LLE Rating of 7.5 / 10. I’ll see you there when the sun is shining, sitting on the terrace, sipping a cocktail and eating fish & chips wrapped in newspaper.
Gallery Mess, Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York HQ, King’s Road, SW3 4SQ