The World’s End Market: Historic Boozer Turned Concept Eatery
Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆
Around the middle of the King’s Road in Chelsea is the World’s End pub, which dates back to the time of Charles II and has given name to the wider local area. Despite its rugged outer appearance, it hasn’t been a proper boozer for a long time now. But with the arrival of The World’s End Market restaurant a little over a month ago, at least its name and elements of the bar area within have been preserved.
The resultant space has a gastropub feel to it, with drinkers given their own space and tables flooding the rest of the area. It’s only half full on our visit, but manages a convincing bustle all the same.
The restaurant is the second site from the team behind The Crystal Palace Market, set near the park of the same name. Both share the concept of carefully sourcing but simply cooking produce, and presenting it naturally without too much fuss or fanfare. That will explain why, at the far side of the room, an open kitchen is flanked by a fishmonger-style display of fish on ice and hanging meat carcasses.
Their mission statement is the kind that every other restaurant and its brasserie aunt clutters your menu with or has a page on their website devoted to — but actually doing it is a different thing altogether.
The menu here could better be described as a glossary, listing close to 20 different types of meat and fish — from whole rainbow trout, plaice or lemon sole to grilled prawns or squid, skate wings, varying cuts of beef, lamb chops and chicken breast — along with their origins and prices. They all automatically come with a side salad, fries and usually a choice of sauce.
We can vouch for the freshness of a skate wing (£21) which arrives meaty and moist, with a sprightly caper-based sauce; and a 28-day matured sirloin steak (£21) is similarly gutsy-tasting but tender. A side of silken-textured and sexy-scented mashed potato laced with truffle (£3.50) makes for a luxurious accompaniment.
The obligatory fries are somewhat unremarkable and surplus to requirements, while our frankly dull leafy side salads don’t even get a look in.
If our mum was with us, our salad dodging ways might have prevented us from partaking in pudding, but thankfully she was otherwise engaged. A hazelnut and caramel cheesecake (£5.50) — despite being sadly deconstructed and presented in a kilner jar — is probably the most complicated bit of cooking the kitchen’s done all night. It’s a multi-layered triumph of nutty, caramel sweetness, creamy cheese and what can only be described as a buttery biscuit base.
So, would we be back? Yes — if we were in the area. It’s a place to settle in, enjoy some excellently cooked grub, and while the hours away. Service is unobtrusive and charming, and the place tows a neat line between restaurant and pub. But given the abundance of meat and fish options, a paltry two vegetarian choices (one being a mushroom risotto) is disappointing. And the rigid protein, sauce and sides formula risks being more enticing on paper than plate. We’ve heard that both their burger menu might be worth a try, though.
Given the abundance of choice in London, there’s no need to travel to the ends of the world for dinner here, but if you ended up on its doorstep it wouldn’t be the end of the world either.
The World’s End Market is at 459 King’s Road, SW10 0LR
Last Updated 21 January 2015