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The Admiral Codrington is one of Chelsea's most beloved drinking spots, renowned for its' all weather beer garden and chunky communal table seating. Tucked away behind the boozy front room, the gastropub boasts an award winning restaurant in a modern dining conservatory with a retractable glass roof that is somewhat reserved for those in the know. The restaurant prides itself on using only the finest British ingredients in their seasonal menu, so whilst signature dishes such as the chilli squid and dry age steaks are guaranteed to feature, there is something new to try upon each visit. The "Ad Cod Burger" has gained the restaurant an absurd amount of attention (claimed by many to be the best burger in London) and has lead to a particularly enticing Wednesday Burger Night fixture, where one can find special creations from the chef such as lobster, foie gras and duck egg burgers (mmmmmmmmmmm). Lighter salad and fish options are available, a "Short and Sweet" menu enables workers in the area to fit in a scrumptious two-courser within an hour's lunch break, and the Ad Cod is known for its unrivalled Sunday Roasts. Lunch or dinner, light or heavy, banquette, outdoor, or private dining - this one has got it all.
The Ad Cod is constantly heaving with old regulars and young trendsters living and working in the Chelsea area. I have always favoured it as a drinking spot (partially because of its' bustling ambience and the likelihood that you will run into someone you know, and partially because it does particularly good Bloody Marys and bar snacks) but I had never ventured into the restaurant. It had one of those "i want everything on the menu" conundrums when I saw the menu, and was pleased (but not surprise) to find that the quality of the food was really outstanding; suffices to say that I'll now favour it as a dining spot too, and might struggle not to delve into the back room for a bite of something delicious next time I pop in for a "quick drink".
My guest of the evening (the Chic Amish) and I took our places at a small wooden corner table of the vast dining conservatory, where we spent a good 20 minutes contemplating our orders from the all-too-tempting menu. Afterwards, we were given a brief tour of the venue, where we saw one of the beautiful little dining rooms that are open for private hire for small parties (as seen above). Seems like a lovely idea for a family occasion, or just a big group looking to settle in for a long and boozy roast. Noted!
I went for the chilli salt and pepper squid, tossed with green chilli, spring onion, coriander and nuoc cham. The meat was soft and tender, coated in a crispy and surprisingly light tempura batter that just melted in the mouth when doused in the sweet chilli dipping sauce. The fresh lime brought out the citrus in the squid's dressing and the crunch of the fresh vegetables gave it a fresh, more salad-y feel (always makes you feel slightly less guilty about polishing off a generous portion of something battered). The Chic Amish, being a shellfish-allergist and general fishophobe, opted for a warm beetroot salad with an orange and goats cheese micro salad. The little parmentiers of pickled beetroot gave a sweet and earthy flavour that was cut harmoniously by the citric tang of the orange flesh. It's not often that beetroot is served this way, but it is definitely something that I will be trying out in the kitchen: steaming it so the meat softens but does not become crunchy as it does when roasted, and serving it warm amidst cold salad ingredients makes it a wonderfully light centrepiece for a starter, and of course, brings a gorgeous colour to the plate.
Following the squid, I went for one of the signature Ad Cod dry age steaks: a 350g Black Angus rib eye aged for 35 days, served with fries, a mixed leaf salad and a homemade béarnaise sauce. The steaks are all selected by a renewed English butcher Andrew James, with whom the Ad Cod has a longstanding relationship, and then they are grilled at 480°C for a crispy outside and unique, smoky flavour. My rib eye was infallible: the dark, crispy surface had a rich and smoky flavour whilst the rare meat at the centre tasted fresh and oaky. It was exactly as a rare cut should be: dark to pink, pink to red and only slightly raw at its' very core. Hubba hubba. The Chic Amish opted for the Ad Cod Burger, which I was delighted to be able to sample, after having heard all of the hype that surrounds it. It deserves its' reputation. The pattie, served medium rare, is loosely packed in texture and melts in the mouth with the rest of the burger contents. The soft brioche bun is sweet and lightly toasted and melted extra Mature cheddar topped with warm crispy onions topple over the beef to give it unbelievably moreish sweetness. Crispy red onions, tomato and romaine lettuce atop a smear of homemade mayonnaise finish it off (if streaky bacon is not opted for), giving each bite of the burger a fresh and clean tasting crunch that prevents the warm indulgence of the meat-cheese-onion combo from being anything too much. Her chunky chips were as good as my skinny ones (all triple cooked) and as if we weren't full enough, we shared a plate of garlic green beans (5 a day) and black truffled mash (a "taste" turned into demolition).