Duo to reopen Chelsea’s oldest pub in March

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chef

Mark Dyer (l) and Eamonn Manson (r) of DM Group
Mark Dyer (l) and Eamonn Manson (r) of DM Group
A pub believed to be the oldest in Chelsea is to reopen next month after it was saved from closure by two ambitious licensees.

The Cross Keys will return to trading on 5 March following an extensive refurbishment by DM Group, the company run by Mark Dyer and Eamonn Manson.

A campaign group had successfully prevented property developers from turning the pub, which closed in May 2012, into a five-bedroom house with a swimming pool.

The pair plan to replicate the rustic ‘country pub’ vibe installed at their other two sites, Fulham pubs the Sands End and the Brown Cow.

A number of the pub’s original features have been retained in the refurbishment, including a wood burning fire and exposed brick walls.

An as yet unnamed general manager has been recruited, but the remainder of the senior staff will come from DM’s other two sites.

Menu choices

With a focus on traditional British pub classics to seasonal plates with European influences, the menu at the Cross Keys will be devised by head chef Natasha Cooke, previously sous chef at Chelsea’s Michelin-starred Medlar. Cooke will be supported by DM Group executive chef Oliver Marlowe.

The Cross Keys will offer an array of bar snacks, including the group’s signature Scotch egg (£5), sausage roll (£4.50) and Welsh rarebit (£4).

The dining menu will feature starters such as warm-cured sea trout with toasted quinoa, pickled fennel and crème fraiche (£8), and rabbit ravioli with carrot and cumin puree, broad beans, mustard and pea shoots (£9).

Main courses will include confit lamb belly with potato gratin, turnip puree, onion rings and salsa verde (£18), and Cornish mussels with ‘nduja, leeks and samphire (£16.50), alongside more traditional dishes such as oxtail and stout pie (£16.50) and ale-battered hake and chips (£15.50).

The dessert menu will feature lemon tart with blackberry sorbet (£6.50) and homemade vanilla yoghurt with rhubarb and ginger compote (£6.50).

Traditional feel

In keeping with designs found at the other two sites, the pub will include a traditional oak bar made with reclaimed wood. To give the place a further aged look and feel, it will also include a number of handpicked antiques.

A range of cask ales and craft beers will be available along with a wine list that focuses on accessibly-priced bottles from wine estates around the globe.

Dyer said the pub’s 'fantastic history and heritage' appealed greatly, and the pair had always had their eye on it.

He explained: “It’s the oldest pub in the borough, and opening it up gives us a great opportunity to turn it into a community pub once again.”

“We want customers to walk into the new Cross Keys, regardless of whether it’s to sit quietly with a pint, a Scotch egg and newspaper, or to visit with friends and family to sample an excellently-cooked meal in our main dining room.

“Its location, tucked away in the heart of Chelsea, is perfect, and given our experience with pubs in Fulham, expanding into Chelsea seemed like a natural progression."

In terms of taking on further sites, Dyer said: “We’re at a stage now where we’re keen to grow, and are always on the lookout for new opportunities, particularly in south-west London.”

Related topics: People, Pubs & Bars, Venues

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