For all of London’s pubs, there are very few good ones next to the Thames. Often, you’ll end up settling for an okay-ish looking pub on the river, where the chips arrive in a Sylvanian Families shopping trolley, and goujons hang from a Newton’s cradle. The Cross Keys is a pub in Chelsea that’s right next to the Thames. And although the food here comes on plates, and most of it is perfectly fine, the best thing about this pub is the water that runs alongside it.
Stepping inside The Cross Keys after a stroll is a lovely thing. The front bar area is the place to be, not the dining room. Less country club, more pub. There’s a fireplace, tables big and small, plus a very high likelihood of dog interaction. It’s bright and nice and the service is very friendly. Sit here with a drink and a bowl of sausage and mash, or sharing a cheeky sticky toffee pud, and you’ll be happy.
The menu here isn’t entirely standard gastropub fare. In fact, some of the food can be a bit funny. Not funny ha ha, either. Take the venison tartare. It’s heavy on soy, and the wasabi pureé on the side is what we imagine a handshake from Anthony Joshua to be like. It doesn't work. Then there are the lamb shoulder croquettes. These and chilli sauce: very nice. These, chilli sauce, and stilton: not so much. You know when you notice a bird tweeting as you’re trying to sleep? Tweet. Chirp. Tweet tweet. Chirp. It’s the only thing that exists in the world at that moment. Basically the stilton is that bird, in your mouth.
But despite some of The Cross Keys’ food not quite hitting the mark, it’s still an enjoyable pub to be in. We just wouldn’t recommend you shell out £30 for a couple of courses, and unless you’re looking for a wander along the river, this place probably isn’t worth coming out of your way for.
A good idea, with one cheesy element that isn’t.
A bad idea. Just like your nu-rave phase.
This is the equivalent to your seven year-old cousin performing a living room show. There’s a bit of this, a lot of that, nobody really knows what’s going on, and you all forget about it later.
Finding a good bowl of sausage and mash is harder than you think in London. This is one of the best we’ve had. Three plump sausages, smooth mash, lardons, cabbage, and caramelised onions. All in a pool of decent gravy. Good stuff.
You’ll have a fleeting romance with this teaspoon of burnt onion purée. It’ll be great. You’ll look at pictures of it on your phone. You’ll remember how it made the dry pork alright. Then it will be over.
The braised leeks dominate this plate a bit. But we love leeks. And the hake is cooked perfectly.
On the sticky toffee scale that ranges from protecting the bowl from invading spoons to comparing it to a supermarket version, this one sits somewhere in the middle.