From the moment I walked through the door of The Chelsea, I was transported into a spunky, yet sophisticated cozy new hot spot where almost every seat was filled. Reclaimed barn wood traveled throughout the space while exposed ceiling beams, vintage lighting and eye-catching pops of apple green accents united traditional with modern decor. Service was impeccable, the staff was professional and accommodating, and each dish was spot-on. Would you expect anything less?
I had the pleasure of sampling the menu amidst a group of 15 friends, all with a wide range of taste preferences. Collectively, we ordered the full gamut of creative selections listed on the hip one-sheet clip-boarded menus. We were continually impressed by the presentation and flavor profiles of the upscale bar fare. It’s evident that The Chelsea has already perfected the concept of offering familiar pub staples with a chic twist. Best of all? It didn’t break the bank.
We began the evening by toasting with their specialty cocktails, some of which were served in ever popular mason jars. Per the bartender’s recommendation, I sipped on the refreshing cucumber caipiroska. A thinly sliced strip of cucumber hugged the inside of my glass filled with Hanger One Citron “Buddha’s Hand” vodka, infused cucumber, simple syrup and a lemon wedge for a clean taste that pairs well with everything. A must-try for sure.
When it came to ordering appetizers, I couldn’t resist the recognizable pigs in a blanket wrapped in a flaky pastry crust. The Chelsea took the already satisfying meaty hors d’oeuvre to another level by pairing it with a hearty craft beef chili and a side of tangy mustard. An inspired take on a cocktail-hour classic, ideal for the cooler weather now upon us.
Next being passed across the table was zucchini hay; fun to say and even more fun to eat! Thin tangled strands of crunchy tempura fried squash were generously piled onto a plate, speckled with cracked black pepper and drizzled with rich, creamy aioli. These will convince anyone to incorporate extra veggies into their regime. Finger food at its finest.
The Chelsea’s calamari is unlike any I’ve had before, and interestingly a dish I typically stray away from. Not this time. Their version is playfully arranged in a tipped take-out container as a nod to its Asian twist. The fan favorite is brushed with a sweet General Tso’s glaze, sprinkled with fresh scallions, pea greens and balanced by a touch of heat when dunked in the Thai chili mayo sauce. I will certainly be going back for more.
Lastly on our list for sharing was the pot of fries, which were everything I hoped they would be. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned with just the right amount of salt and shredded parmesan cheese to keep everyone eagerly grabbing consecutive handfuls. Pull one from its ceramic vessel and dip away in bright herb chimichurri, warm aioli made from bagna cauda and traditional Heinz ’59′ ketchup. Watch out, they’re addictive.
For my entrée I indulged in the succulent hot buttery lobster roll. Tender shellfish was nestled into a salty pretzel dog bun, which sopped up every ounce of the decadent, savory melted goodness. The citrus slaw added crunch and acidity while the crispy, thin house-made bag ‘o chips rounded out that New England feel.
As far as desserts go, The Chelsea hit the nail on the head. This chocoholic was utterly contented by the gooey, straight-from-the-oven brownie sundae. Cool vanilla gelato pooled into the warm fudginess of the star component that was drenched in sticky-sweet butterscotch and surrounded by crushed nuts. A cloud of whipped cream floated above this melt-in-your-mouth treat, leaving an ideal resting place for the cherry on top. Out-of-this world.
While that would have been enough, my friend kindly let me taste her crumble (for professional purposes, of course). Each jam-like bite was reminiscent of something a loving grandmother would make. The taste of just-picked local berries radiated throughout while a delicate brown sugar coating was crumbled– hence the name –over top. A scoop of vanilla ice cream rounded it out for a winning combination of tartness and sweetness all at the same time.
Lastly, I couldn’t leave without tasting the s’mores, created by Fritz Knipschildt of Chocopologie. The enticing dome of smoked marshmallow merengue immediately invited me to poke through and discover a hidden gem of moist dark chocolate ganache cake, soft graham cracker cake and even more springy marshmallow puffiness for a clever interpretation of the campfire favorite. Oh yea, there were chocolate shavings too. Kumbayaaah.
The Chelsea‘s kitchen is open from 11:30 AM – 10 PM Sun — Thurs and 11:30 AM – 11 PM on Fri & Sat. The bar serves until last call. First come, first serve. 203.254.8200