Out of the way, but worth the trip.
On a dark and stormy May (!) evening, the Chelsea Ram makes a perfect refuge. Its roaring fire, selection of board games and friendly staff implies they expect you to stay for the long haul. And there's no reason that you shouldn't. It's a long way from the tube, and its country-pub feel makes it so welcoming that you never want to leave. As I dried my gilet (!) by the fire and warmed up with a bottle of Cotes de Rhone, I took in all the lovely touches the Chelsea ram has - board games; the pickled onion Monster Munch in their crisp selection; the papers; a door disguised as a book case (!). It all feels a little forced, but almost all the more charming for trying so hard. And surely all pubs start off clean, tidy, varnished and bright, become dingy, dirty and depraved, and then come back out the other side as shabby chic. Having just been bought off Young's by the original owners, the Chelsea Ram is back at the very start of its journey, but already a little eccentric.
A lot of effort has been put into the food too. It feels like a labour of love, and there are some additions to classic pub dishes that feel less like culinary expertise and more like the guilty pleasures of a rather foolish home cook. Would I ever stew half a kilo of wild mushrooms with garlic, drizzle it with pesto and put on some bread with a poached duck egg? Hell no. Would I enjoy it if it were put in front of me? Hell yes. The same went for the fresh cherry tomatoes in my hotpot, which were unexpected and initially shocking - but you came to love it by the end. I'd never do it at home, but I'd order it again in a restaurant.
There was nothing, nothing at all wrong with the Eton mess though, which after such a wintery meal was a gust of summery air far removed from the storm that raged outside.
It's a little out of the way but, if you find yourself in Fulham and really fancy some excellent pub grub, you'll be delighted with the Chelsea Ram - good food, good wine, good prices, friendly staff and, if it starts raining, Scrabble to pass the time. Who knew happiness was within two miles of Fulham Broadway?