Following in the footsteps of the many fashion houses that have diversified into the realm of trendy cafés and eateries, Chucs, the 1950s-style men’s casual clothing brand aimed at the yachting crowd, has successfully widened its appeal by offering loyal followers the chance to share their nostalgic vision of the good life through a small, yet slowly expanding fleet of smart and wonderfully informal Italian restaurants.
Wearing a Chucs polo shirt, with its appealing flag motif, lets me know that you have a certain kind of lifestyle (and style). As labels go, it’s effortlessly chic and so far hasn’t been over popularised and adopted by the pseudo-rich home counties boys who are still stuck on a couple of chaps called Ralph and Tommy. Let’s just hope it stays that way.
When the first Chucs restaurant opened on Dover Street, Mayfair, adjacent to their stand-alone fashion boutique, I fell in love with the brand (on behalf of the men in my life) and the utterly glamorous company vision. With one foot in the glamorous past, the Dover Street interior mirrors that of an immaculate vintage cruiser, a décor shared by the lighter, brighter sister Chucs premises on Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, happily just around the corner from our apartment and open for breakfast. I can also get my Chucs fix at the Serpentine and Harrods and they are likely to continue sailing around the city docking who knows where.
The ray of sunshine all day menu is a welcome reminder of holiday, even on a rainy day on Westbourne Grove. Simple, beautifully prepared Italian fare that has an authenticity which is hard to come by in London, this is exactly the kind of food and atmosphere billionaires want when they are tired of over-complicated and strangely uninspiring Michelin starred dining. Start with a Negroni, Aperol or prosecco (or one of each), followed by a fritto misto and an octopus carpaccio with orange and fennel to share, along with a bottle of the Italian house white, a vibrant Sicilian Grillo. For main I opted for the gluten free breaded chicken paillard with a rocket and cherry tomato salad, impressively thin, moist and well seasoned. A side of chips was essential.
Beautiful homemade pasta (with gluten-free also available) in all shapes and sizes brings a touch of comfort and soul to proceedings, as do more hearty Italian dishes such as the signature venison spezzatino, a rich, unctuous cooked stew with heady girolle mushrooms and accompanied by a silky mash potato.
Never fear, you’ll find that you can always lap up the famed Chucs tiramisu or dark chocolate gelato no matter how much carbohydrate you’ve sunk. Adopt some faded red trousers and deck shoes (a Chucs polo could be a bridge too far), tuck the latest issue of Yachting World under your arm and walk on over. After all, dining here is the next best thing to actually owning a yacht.
Chucs, 226 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH. Open for breakfast and all day dining, along with Sunday brunch. For more information and to reserve a table please visit the website or call: +44(0) 207 243 9136.