Chucs Bar and Grill on Dover Street is an offshoot of the 1950s-style mens yachtwear fashion label founded by Charles Finch (son of actor Peter Finch) which it adjoins, with the restaurant’s design reflecting the glamour and nostalgia of nautical living. Yards of polished wood, blue leather banquettes and a dazzling array of framed photos of iconic sea lovers such as Grace Kelly crowd the walls in order to create a cosy cabin-style space, and even the noise and slight vibration from the basement kitchen’s extractor adds to the sense of being at sea.
It feels incredibly exclusive and intimate thanks to just six tables inside, although you wonder how this stylish concept pays, especially with all-day menu including many casual options such as the Chucs burger. The majority of dishes are firmly rooted in Italian classics, however, and as everything is prepared to perfection it’s worth ordering the more luxurious ingredients. From holiday-reminiscent calamari and zucchini fritti to tender veal with generous shavings of black truffle and roasted potatoes, the zabaglione with strawberries was the ultimate finale to an evocative tribute to the timelessness of Italian food and wine.
Chucs is an environment that transitions effortlessly from a smart café by day into a warm, clubby ambiance by night, and while it’s an ideal venue for lunch with friends, book a late corner table for date night; the lighting is wonderfully flattering and seductive and the champagne is served in old-fashioned coupe glasses that make you half expect Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, off duty from To Catch a Thief, to be ushered to their table by the charming maître d’. As diners here keep themselves to themselves regardless of their proximity, if I was a movie star this is exactly where I would dine.
Customers at both this branch and the Westbourne Grove outpost appear to consist of well-heeled Americans (presumably already familiar with the Chucs brand) and in-the-know locals, for this restaurant isn’t so much the place to be seen as to be aloofly invisible, and thankfully the Mayfair posers chose to patronise Sexy Fish around the corner on the night we visited. Low key and stylish, with surprisingly delectable fare, Chucs has captured the essence of sailing around the Italian Riveria accompanied by a rather marvellous chef and a dedicated team of stewards – God bless her and all who sail in her.
Chucs, 30B Dover Street, London W1S 4NB. For more information and reservations please visit the website or call +44(0) 203 763 2013.