Whilst for some, the festive season brings with it a sense of calm, relaxation, and merriment, these are never things that are found on Oxford Street in December. However, if you find yourself in the seventh circle of hell that is central London at this time of the year and are in need of escape, all you have to do is duck into Selfridges, find your way through the swarms of crazed Christmas shoppers to the one special lift in the fragrance department that takes you to the roof where you are in for a treat. Selfridges second ‘On The Roof With…’ residency sees the department store’s lofty heights transformed into Le Chalet – a winter Alpine restaurant, complete with wintery ferns, timber branches and classic white fairy lights.
As you step out of the lift, you are directed through a constructed woodland corridor and up the stairs to a cosy ski chalet inspired restaurant designed by Alexander Waterworth Interiors. Whilst the restaurant is very busy and booking is required, the atmosphere remains intimate and laidback, with friendly, attentive waiters eager to help you and tartan blankets draped over the backs of chairs for general use.
The menu is full of hearty, winter-warming food and quality produce, sourced locally and cooked with the season in mind. We started with the Blue cheese fondue and toasted garlic flutes – a great sharer plate. The fondue itself is beautifully creamy but the blue is mild enough to entice even those not usually a fan of mouldy cheeses, and the toasted garlic and thyme bread flutes are scrummy. We ordered starters of a Backed raclette with bressola and pickles, alongside Seabass ceviche with spiced sweet potato crisps. The raclette was fine but a tad disappointing as the cheese was not warm by the time it got to our table. The ceviche on the other hand was perfect. It was sweet and not overly citrusy. The red onion cuts added a tang ad the coriander, watercress and chilli added flavour that worked well with the sweet accent and crisp texture of the sweet potato.
For our mains, we opted for Barked short rib with caramelised parsnip mash and Smoked Highland venison with black pepper neeps. Both were sizeable portions, incredibly peppery – which we loved but might not be to everyone’s taste – and well cooked. The ribs in particular were beautifully tender; the meat pulled apart and the darker, BBQ sauce added a smokiness that complimented the sweet and unusual parsnip mash. However, the Broccoli with chilli and garlic, which we ordered as a side, was unfortunately way too over salted.
After so much food we were quite ready to just veg out in our chairs and people watch but we knew that it was our duty to you, our wonderful readers, to sample the desserts. So, we took a deep breath and ordered the mysterious Eggnog snow egg and the Vanilla and blackcurrant rice pudding. The snow egg turned out to be a soft poached meringue, floating in a cold creamy brandy sauce, and was topped with a hard crisp pastry cover which was sprinkled with icing sugar for good measure. Innovative as it might have appeared, it was also sickly sweet and not something that we could stomach. The warm rice pudding was more successful, with the tart berry compote playing off the honeycomb that was added to the dish.
The cocktails were similarly hit and miss; the Old fashion, with its addition of honeycomb and appropriate strength, was a real pleaser whilst the Winter Orchard – which combined Beefeater gin, Poire William, Fireball and apple juice – was undrinkable. The wine list is less diverse in terms of appeal and we can definitely recommend the Peachy Canyon Red Zinfandel, which opens up well and compliments the winter warming food perfectly.
All in all, Le Chalet is a great installation and its location makes it a great retreat from the bustling streets of London this winter.
Vicky Ilankovan – Lifestyle Editor
For a similar Winter Roof Pop-Up on in London this year, check out our review of Skylounge’s Valhalla.