112 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea, London SW3 3AE, UK 112 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea, London SW3 3AE, UK
Daphne. London, United Kingdom

There’s a little pocket of London that is recently re-open not just for business but for casting hearts, eyes and tastebuds over to the sun-drenched panoramas of Italy.

Here on the walls by the Ornellaia, Sassicaia and more quirkily chosen, classy bottles in the wine cellar, hang colourful prints depicting scenes from all over the peninsula: Portofino, Firenze, Lake Como.

The bar at Daphne's restaurant in Chelsea

It’s this last one that captures my attention and imagination most, casting my mind back to a fabulous long weekend spent there a few years ago. In the print a gorgeous, vintage, two-seater Alfa Romeo sits on the shoreline, framed by its equally glamorous passers by.

Tonight at Daphne’s this is a scene somewhat re-lived, perhaps without the incredible lakeside or ocean backdrop, but yet we find ourselves almost alfresco, seated in the conservatory of a building decked out to inspire and enrapture in equal measure.

Daphne's restaurant in Chelsea

Daphne’s, opened originally by theatre agent Daphne Rye 50 years ago, now offers an updated space that evokes upmarket Italy in taste, look and feel. From the pink marble-topped bar to the Murano glass vintage 1950s chandeliers that hang over us as we dine, we are transported to la dolce vita in an instant.

Diners can kick off with cocktails from the bar, inspired by the Venetian drinking dens of the Grand Tour. The extensive list offers twists on the classics – Italophiles with a penchant for the north like me can be daring and choose a gin-based ‘essence of Alba’ made with truffle oil, or rest easy with a more familiar Cocchi (a vermouth from Turin) infused Half-century Negroni.

The burrata at Daphne's restaurant in Chelsea

Delve then into the menu at Daphne’s – simple, but inspiring, and of course, altogether authentic. We sample a wide selection of antipasti – from the famosissimo vitello tonnato; some of the best and freshest burrata I’ve ever tasted – beautifully creamy; Octopus carpaccio with shaved fennel and Amalfi lemon; and grissini and cured meats that match flavours to their delicate aromas.

Expect primi pasta dishes like parpadelle stuffed with wild boar ragu, lobster spaghetti and, when in season, tagliatelle with chanterelles and summer truffles.

Secondi comprise well-recommended dishes such as polpette al forno, cod with zucchini flower, yellowfin tuna and roast lamb rump with borlotti beans. Dolci highlights prepared by head Pastry Chef Zuzana Laczova must include blush peach crostata with amaretti ice cream, and the amalfi lemon semi-freddo.

Daphne's restaurant in Chelsea

If you’re not already sated on the food, wine or cocktails at Daphne’s, the flashes of colour from the surrounding art and ambience are set to surely dazzle. A new favourite haunt of mine for all things bella figura.

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