The Painted Heron Chelsea
112 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, SW10 0DJ
020 7351 5232/www.thepaintedheron.com
In my fantasy world I have the elegance of Dirk Bogarde, drive an Aston Martin and live in Cheyne Walk. This little stretch of exclusivity overlooks the Thames on the north bank between Battersea and Albert bridges, far enough away from the tube to keep the hoi polloi away and close enough to the action to keep me busy. In real life I don’t live anywhere like it but much to my surprise have at least staked a claim by finding a parking space outside Chef-Patron Yogesh Datta’s restaurant The Painted Heron where I have been invited to review the new a la Carte menu. I have previously reviewed Yogesh’s Indo-Chinese City outpost Bangalore Express which does a very good line in upmarket street-food but despite driving past The Painted Heron possibly a million times since it first opened its doors in 2002 I have never visited.We started the evening with some crisp, freshly cooked Poppadums-chutneys are home-made and unusually flavoured. Mango comes with a hint of cumin, there is a deliciously tart plum version, and the garlic and mint iteration is cool and refreshing. I’m drinking a fruity and floral Gewurtztraminer Reserve, Cave de Hunawihr, Alsace 2012 (£33) that stands up to the spices without being too sweet.The Seafood Grazing Platter (£25) was an obvious choice for a shared starter-Pollock Fish Tikka was firm-fleshed and not overwhelmed by the spicing, a crab dosa was elegant and light, tandoori prawns were succulent and a beautiful piece of wild pink salmon was beautifully spiced.Black cod came with a flavoured chilli crust, onion jam, onion and lentil dumpling, yoghurt (£24.50). The sweetness of the fish was intensified by the heat of the chilli creating a real depth of flavour, soothed by the yoghurt and jam.Chicken tikka, almond and tomato curry with clotted cream (£14.50) was rich, creamy and tender-a deluxe take on the standard curry house dish, and the accompanying Basmati rice (£3.50) was fragrant and flaky.Broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas poriyal (£6.50) was delicious-fried veg in a luscious coconut sauce with just a hint of burn! Masala potato, sweet potato and broad bean mash (£6) was a spicy starchy heaven and perfect for mopping up the poriyal sauce.Hot Naan bread (£3.50) came straight from the oven, perfectly blistered and puffed up.We were brought out a mixed plate of desserts to try out; mango cheesecake, chocolate molten pudding, salted caramels and nut slice with coconut cream all impressed though we were pretty full by this time!In my fantasy world the cool,understated elegance of The Painted Heron would suit me fine and in the real world I’d like to see Yogesh Datta’s prize-winning restaurant getting a little more attention. The food is innovative both in use of ingredients and techniques but without compromising the intensity of heat and spice that creates its character and in these hot summer months with the newly opened Heron Terrace for Alfresco Dining there really is no excuse for not going.