Stylish Mexican Dining in Chelsea at Ixchel

Reviving the somewhat tired dining scene of Chelsea’s Kings Road, Ixchel, the long-awaited Mexican restaurant and Tequila bar has opened its doors with the promise of transporting guests to the hedonistic oasis of Tulum and is set to be amongst the best dining establishments to have opened this year.

Launched under Fraser Carruthers’ Fairbairn Capital, which notably has Chelsea favourites Albert’s and Raffles under its portfolio, the fashionable hotspot oozes the bohemian vibes of the beach clubs that have put the Yucatan peninsula on the map and spans two floors.

Borrowing its name from the Mayan goddess of the moon and textiles, Ixchel is a sensory delight; from the bustle of the busy streets that neighbour the restaurant, you are immersed in the free-spirited vibe of this place with no detail spared in its interior.

Showcasing Mexican art to its fullest extent, one enters to be welcomed by a mural by Rafael Uriegas, which nods to ancient mythology and sets the scene for the dining floor, which opens onto the Moon Bar, acting as a focal point.

Designed by female-led Behind The Door Designs, the inviting décor is enlivened by Mexican influence, floor-to-ceiling windows allow the natural light to linger on the ground floor, and carefully curated art and contemporary sculpture adorn the space.

In perfect matrimony to the vibrant style Ixchel exudes, the menu devised by Head Chef Ximena Gayosso Gonzalez celebrates the exotic tastes synonymous with Mexican cuisine.

Known for his flair in creating traditional dishes but with a modern twist, Gonzalez brings his years of working across the likes of Shoreditch’s famed Brat and Mayfair’s Ella Canta to the helm of the kitchen at Ixchel and has created an easily navigated menu of small and large plates, salads, tacos and quesadillas.

The concept here is very much a sharing one, so you are fine to go either as a couple or a larger group (or even alone) as you so fancy; there are plenty of tantalising dishes to try and with the varied size of the dishes you can probably comfortably order around 4-5 dishes per person.

Start with a few of the Para Picar (small plates); the Bluefin tuna sashimi is a signature and is served with a ponzu toreada sauce which gives a nice kick. The Crab macha tostada is also to die for, a delicious filling of crab, ginger and garlic chips give it a crisp with the freshness and zest of the crab nicely complemented by the other ingredients.

The Pork belly taco is also particularly noteworthy, served with salsa verde and refried beans it has texture and makes for a good second dish before going on to the main course.

Of the mains, the Charcoal crispy chicken thigh is a particular standout dish; it’s simple yet locally sourced produce shines through with the tenderness of the meat from the cooking techniques used, and it comes with a red chilli sauce, which really elevates the fusion of flavours.

A variety of different salsas, which range in spice levels, are also a highlight of the menu, and it’s worth trying one to give the food a little extra panache.

Something else Ixchel has mastered is its cocktails. Chosen by Nar Manager Manuel Lema, the selection is perfectly paired with the sofas that line the entrance for a more laid-back experience with some dishes and a catch-up with friends as you enjoy the upbeat vibes of the DJ all through the fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system.

There’s a choice of tipple for all tastes, which includes an alcohol-free selection. Margaritas take centre stage, with the Spicy being particularly popular and consisting of Patron silver with fresh jalapeño and a splash of organic agave. Do be warned, though, it does have quite the kick.

Of the House Cocktails, we’d recommend the Ixchel Negroni, worthy of being the restaurant’s eponymous drink; it’s a blend of honey-infused Campari, martini rubino and Patron silver – it’s the perfect Negroni, not too bitter, sour enough and with a nice fruitiness.

Open daily for lunch and dinner, Ixchel opens Monday to Wednesday, 12pm – midnight, with a later opening until 1am, Thursday to Saturday and on Sundays closes at 11pm.

Text by Jaz Grewal.

https://ixchellondon.com/

 

Designer Dining at The Chelsea Pig

 

Perhaps the pinnacle of craftsmanship and heritage, the Oulton name has long been synonymous with style. It was back in 1976 that Major Philip Oulton opened Halo Antiques in a bid to provide a good education for his two sons.

Fast forward to today, and Philip’s son, Tim, stands as one of the most sought-after names in the world of fabulous furnishings and out-of-this-world design.

Having established the Timothy Oulton brand back in 2008 when its first gallery opened in LA, the eponymous label has since gone on to pop up in Harrods and open numerous galleries worldwide with its lavishly appointed Chelsea flagship at the helm.

Now run under the creative direction of Tim’s son, Oliver Oulton, the brand counts a global empire under its wing, and before passing the reigns on last year, Tim branched out into hospitality.

The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly his first pub, The Chelsea Pig, which resides a stone’s throw away from the Kings Road flagship store.

Originally established in 1892, the pub is very much an icon amongst the Chelsea set and, following an extensive renovation, reopened in November 2021, offering an all-day dining menu and impressive drinks list against a backdrop immersed in Oulton’s signature style.

The design-led space exudes the eccentricity of the Victorian era whilst maintaining the authenticity of a gastro-pub with a neighbourhood feel.

On entering, the focal point is a rather unexpected yet very welcome aquarium filled with a diver, namely Derek, who stands proudly clad in a helmet and diving suit.

The décor is flamboyant; think leather banquettes and tonal Turkish oak beam flooring to add warmth and complement the whole all-day concept of the restaurant and pub.

Service is unpretentious; it’s just the right level of formality to suit a Chelsea dining institution, yet in keeping with the vibe echoed throughout and the element of fun synonymous with the family design business.

Foodwise, Head Chef Fionnnan Flood has created a menu showcasing classic British fare with a modern flair and focus on seasonal ingredients. Very fittingly, traditional English dishes are championed in a nod to gastro dining, yet there is a sense of theatre to the plates on offer.

Hero dishes to start include terrine of rabbit and duck and a beautifully done Longhorn beef tartare served with a nice smoked crème fraiche and focaccia.

For mains, the lamb breast is a must-try; cooked to perfection, it comes with a minted salsa verde that gives it a nice little kick. For even more traditional pub grub, the beer-battered haddock is a good take on posh fish ’n’ chips and really hits the spot.

Make sure to save some space for dessert, too. The marmalade bread pudding is a particular treat to share, with a nice dollop of cinnamon ice cream, and we quite enjoy the peppermint crème brulee after a hearty meal; it’s a perfectly indulgent way to finish the meal.

Open daily, Tuesday to Sunday, the pub serves its all-day dining menu throughout, with the additional option of a fabulous roast on Sundays – think Hereford beef rib-eye or Sutton Hoo Chicken with all the trimmings.

The Chelsea Pig has also recently launched The Apartment, a fabulous  space available for private hire.

Text by Jaz Grewal.

www.thechelseapig.co.uk