“ Address: Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack 332-334 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UR „
There are times that I like to eat out and eat well and Easter is always a time that I tend to meet up with friends for a meal, as a person who is regularly in the Chelsea area on a Saturday afternoon for the Football the invitation to join a few friends for dinner at The Big Easy was an easy offer to accept without pause or hesitation, after all this is a place that I have seen from the Bus when going down the Kings Road and a place that I have had a hankering to go to for a while as on the occasions that I have passed the place always seems to be busy whether it's a lunchtime or an evening. So the location of the restaurant is the western end of the famous Kings Road in Chelsea. An area that you can easily see a plethora of supercars simply travelling the road to what can only be perceived as showing off, after dark the whole area changes. The shops shut and the bars and nightclubs come alive and a younger clientele appear dressed to the nines for a night of clubbing to which the area has plenty to choose from.
The Big Easy is situated right in the middle of this area, and for a restaurant that bills itself as an American BBQ, Crab and Rib-shack restaurant the size of the place is on the small side. However it is based over two floors and I recommend if you do visit to get a table downstairs as the atmosphere is better than upstairs where I have found its mainly families with young children, also the basement area has a small stage that on a Saturday night you may find that your table is right up against and the speakers are almost sitting on your table! As this is an American diner the theme is kind of a mix of surfing and Americana as the walls are decorated with items that add to the ambiance of the restaurant. The lighting is not the brightest either as it's enough to see what you are eating yet can easily be considered to be on the dark side. That was downstairs and upstairs is brighter by far. This is also where the bar is located and this area can get very busy, overall this is again a small area and the seating always goes quickly, it's interesting to note that the bar is used as a potential overflow area when the tables have reached capacity. Music is piped over all areas, unless a band is one downstairs.
We had a table for four booked for 1930, however due to the Football game we attended we didn't arrive till 1945. We were met with stern faces as our table was about to be given away to someone else and we were labelling a non-arrivals! The problem is here that you are only given a two hour window in which to eat and drink and of course if you are late then either your time is reduced or an automatic cancellation is applied. In our experience upon arrival we did state that we had not received any phone call with regards to our pending arrival as the restaurant when booking said they would call to confirm we were still taking place, anyway we were shown to our table downstairs and felt that we had to order quickly as we were now up against the clock.
The scope of food is amazing, from a whole rack of Ribs to Burgers and Steaks, I got the impression that the seafood was the signature dish as Shrimps, Lobster and Prawn were prevalent on most of the menu items with Combo's for two and a mix of meat and fish if needed. Not a big fan of Lobster as for me its always the Steak and the taste of the meat in the way its being prepared, needless to say that I wasn't let down by reading that all Steaks have been 35 day matured. From this I knew that the flavour was there and immediately knew that I had made up my mind. I like the food in this place, it serves a Double Cut Steak in various forms such as T-Bone and Rib Eye, and however the size isn't the issue as it's a hefty piece of meat in the region of 700gm which does fill the plate, the thing that gets me is the starting price - £23.90 gets the meat only with garnish. If you want fries or sauce or even a side then that's extra, so what starts of at £23.90 easily goes up to £35 plus drinks! With Jumbo Shrimp to start with, delivery of 5 big Shrimps on a plate with sauce and salad and the Steak as the main course, a few bottle of Budweiser bought my bill for me to a staggering £59 including service! Okay that's a lot of money in this climate at the moment and I wouldn't personally tend to go here regularly, but you do tend to get a decent sized portion with what you order, we were waiting around 15 minutes for starters and then a further 20 minutes for mains to be delivered which I thought was an acceptable time to let the food go down and talk amongst ourselves, as I said earlier we were now up against the clock and because of this we weren't allowed to have dessert at the table and advised that we had to sit at the bar if we wanted our last course, this was when we decided to pay and to leave. I would have thought that a little flexibility could have been applied as we were still in our reduced time slot, so the night ended on a down point. The quality of the food is very good and the Shrimps were tasty and succulent, the Steak cooked to how I like the meat when I ask for it to be well done and it was tasty and yet we felt like we were being rushed which I thought wasn't really fair and meant that we were unable to relax.
Service wise the Waitress couldn't do enough for us on our visit and was checking up on us just enough to ensure that the drinks never ran dry and that our food was satisfactory, this was appreciated as some members of our party wanted additional sides and these were ordered and delivered with a quick turnaround without hesitation. I did feel sorry for her when she was speaking to us about our time limit as she wasn't being awkward, but did sympathise with us and was very apologetic in her approach. In the end we left at 2130 and went to a local pub to have a last beer, we didn't feel that we had relaxed as much as we should have and were quite disappointed with this. Okay we were late and we knew we had broken the agreement that is taken out when booking, however the restaurant could have been a little more flexible in their approach and this upset the people I was with as they go here once a month to eat so they weren't too impressed with the whole experience. As we left there was quite a few people outside smoking which made the place look even more busier than when we arrived, there were also black cabs pulling up as well and these were being taken very quickly, in fact over a space of 10 minutes we saw a steady influx of cabs coming and going, so I think its safe to say that it's a hotspot in the Kings Road.
I had never seen a queue at the men's lavatories in a Restaurant till now, and was surprised that I was part of the assembled males waiting outside, in fact it was quite embarrassing as given the seating is quite tight on both levels the queue was starting to into the seating area, anyway the lavatories were clean and decorated brightly. With only two Urinals and a cubicle available for a place that could easily seat in the region of 150 people, I was a little surprised by this.
Overall I do rate The Big Easy as a place to eat, but I do understand the level of service has dropped in recent months and even though I could probably see this on my visit with other customers I couldn't. The location of the place has disadvantages, these are painfully obvious such as the only way to get here is by bus or taxi as the place is nowhere near a tube or train station with Victoria being the nearest mainline station some 15 minutes away by bus. As most of the turnings off the Kings Road are residential the parking falls under permit holders as the area is made up of residential squares and terraces and therefore the area has been given a substantial amount of double yellow lines that immediately prevents parking in the vicinity. I did enjoy my visit as I enjoyed the quality of the food, however I wouldn't go at a peak time such as a Saturday again as its simply not worth the hassle as the place beyond capacity, I would rather go on a weeknight and experience the happy hour and a nice meal, on the flip side there was a good atmosphere and the band did get the place rocking.
My boyfriend and I recently had our two year anniversary. Nothing major but still a little milestone and we thought we would have a small celebration by going for dinner somewhere different. We live in London but rarely eat-out in central London or in the more tourist places because price, time and traffic is always an issue. Plus we already have our favourite places.
So I did a quick look around and Came up with a huge list of restaurants all over London. But my boyfriend's food tastes are extremely limited. Literally meant and carbs. That's about it. So posh restaurants were out the window. I know I couldn't go wrong with a steak and ribs joint and while looking around came across The Big Easy. It pops up on restaurant review websites as being brilliant and just the food my boyfriend would love so we gave it a go.
~ **LOCATION **~
The Big Easy is located on Kings Road in Chelsea. There's plenty of on-street meter parking until 6.30pm, and then it's free. We were lucky to get a parking space almost right outside and as we went on a Monday evening, we paid nothing for parking. This is always a gem in London as so many places are no parking zones. If you wanted to get public transport then either South Kensington or Sloane Square are within easy reach. Buses run every few minutes from Sloane Square. It is relatively easy to get to and with the bright lights and big name on the outside you really won't miss it.
~** DESIGN, STYLE AND VIBE **~
To be honest we didn't know what to really expect. The whole theme of the restaurant is based on being a BBQ and Crab Shack straight out of easy living America.
The restaurant has an upstairs and downstairs so don't be fooled by the small space you are greeted with. The wooden table and chairs are spaced well enough apart so you can't hear your neighbours conversations but close enough so that you can see what they chose off the amazing menu. The tables are covered with either red and white criss cross table clothes or some plan brown paper. It feels very authentic and you can hear the busy chitter chatter bounce of the wooden wools. They have managed to fit in a lot of tables in a relatively small space, but they have made it work with no problems at all. If you have a larger party though you will be seated downstairs which seemed to be a lot noisier but with less of the hustle and bustle of the upstairs seating.
The restaurant is quite dark but it lit up my small lights hanging over the walls and candles on the tables. It is quite an intimate setting but far from romantic. Cosy and fun really sums up the vibe.
I found it really interesting that on the walls were pinned hundreds of business cards. So if you own your own business take a few with you. It was funny sitting there reading the different job titles. It killed the time while waiting to be served.
We had out meal at the beginning of November and they already had their Christmas tree settled nicely in the middle of the room. Luckily we were sitting on the side opposite the busy bar so the Christmas tree blocked off the hustle and bustle.
~** MENU **~
The Big Easy has a huge menu with lots of variety. They specialise in ribs, steak and chicken. Plus have a professional serving of fish, lobster and shrimp. They also do massive Fajitas, I saw a couple order one each and I couldn't believe the size of what they were served.
As for appetisers, they do great calamari. Mine was served in a small silver bucket with lemon, hot salsa and a nice creamy tar tar sauce on the side. The servings are massive. I had half a pound of calamari. I would recommend that you either share a starter or just skip to the main as the portions are so big.
The only negative about the menu is that is really is a meat lover's restaurant. The only things really available for vegetarians were Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers for a starter and then either a Classic Caesar salad or a vegetable fajita. The choice is really limited and a vegetarian would be utterly disappointed unless they ate fish of course, then they would be fine!
So the menu is ridiculously huge, but to make it easier for you, The Big Easy have a special offer every day of the week. As we went on a Monday, we had the option of choosing THE BIG PIG GIG! Basically, this is all you can eat ribs chicken, coleslaw and beans. With a free drink thrown in. (They say beer but as we don't drink we still had a soft drink). It doesn't come with fries so we ordered them on the side. It costs £14.95 every Monday from 12pm until close. It really is a bargain and the fact my other half munched through 3 legs of chicken and 3 racks of ribs... tells you it was good stuff. They will just keep it coming!
The other offers available are.......
Monday - Friday: Wings, Beef Burger, Fries & Coleslaw, Drink £9.95 p/p. 12pm until 6pm
Monday: The Big Pig Gig (What I explained above).
Tuesday: All you can eat Shrimp, fries, coleslaw and drink. £14.00 p/p 12pm until 6pm.
Wednesday: All you can eat Fajitas (chicken, steak, shrimp and vegetable) and a drink. £14.95 p/p 12pm until 6pm.
Thursday: Steak & Lobster, Fries, Salad and drink. £19.50 p/p 12pm until 6pm.
Sunday - Thursday: Lobster Festival, A whole Nova Scotia/Native Lobster with fries.
Although we didn't have room for dessert, the menu looks pretty tasty for those with a sweet tooth. They offer mounds of ice cream plus good old American Cheesecake. Among other favourites, chocolate cake and Almond pie. So lots to choose from. All the menus are available on their website so you can get your mouth watering before you go.
~** MY EXPERIENCE **~
I booked a table online via The Big Easy website. I didn't really think I would need one being a Monday in November, but when we got there I realised it was a good thing we did! As soon as you walk in you are greeted by a member of staff who is the 'host' for the night. I advised her I had a table booked and when I said my name she said 'oh yes, I tried to call you to see if you were still coming'. I took this as a sign of efficiency and that the restaurant was popular. Although I felt like I had been told off a little for not listening to my voicemails! Our table was booked for 7pm. We got there are 6,30pm and another friendly lady seated us straight away.
Unfortunately, they have a restriction on eating times and you are given a 1.5 hours slot. I am not sure if this is because of how busy they are of if it is because they don't want you to eat them out of business. But it does put a slight dampener on the evening as you feel as though you have to clock watch. An hour and a half is a reasonable time. But if you take into consideration waiting to be served, popping to the loo, and general chit chat. It can fly by.
So we were seated and ready to go. I wondered how the 'all you can eat' was going to work as I was expecting a buffet or somewhere that you go and help yourself. But no, they bring it all to your table. The waitress we had was lovely. I politely advised her that we had never been before and she explained how it worked. I also asked about what the food was like and what it came with. She said we should only need one portion of fries to share as the food overall was large in portion. To be fair, we should have only needed one pot of fries but as my partner had starved himself all day, he ordered two.
It did take a while for the waitress to get to our table, it felt like 25 minutes but that could have been the clock ticking down in my head reminding me of the 90 minutes we have until we are turfed from the table. Once we ordered the drinks, which came very quickly by another member of staff, and also our food, our delegated waitress came and asked us if we wanted crab 'bibs'. I looked around to see if anyone else was wearing them as I didn't want to be the only fool in the place. But many people were taking it in Great Spirit and so I agreed to let the waitress tie a plastic white bib around my neck with the word 'CRAB' in big read writing. We found it quite funny but it prepared us to get messy with the ribs!
The ribs and chicken came in a large meal bowl and was stood on a stand in the middle of the table. It was great as we could help our self and eat it off our own plate and we also had somewhere to put the bones slightly out of sight. The coleslaw was also served in a large bowl as was the bbq beans. It was all very fresh and the chicken was incredibly soft and succulent. The meat just fell of the ribs and the bbq sauce was not too overbearing. Overall it was definitely an American style feast and my other half managed to get through 3 chicken legs and 3 racks of ribs. I managed 1 chicken leg and 1.5 racks of ribs. Not bad for me considering I had half a pound of calamari with it!
The waitress was brilliant at keeping the silver bowl filled up. She gave us enough eye contact that we didn't have to call or wait for someone to walk past. But not so much that we felt bothered and interrupted. We managed to fill our bellies with 15 minutes to spare, so even if we wanted desert we probably wouldn't have had time. I didn't see them throw anyone out but I didn't want the embarrassment in case they did! But to be honest after unlimited ribs and chicken, dessert was the last thing on my mind.
Overall the food was perfect, I have absolutely no complaints. The coleslaw was creamy, the chicken was tender and the fries were crispy. With a great service from the waitress and a brilliant relaxed but fun atmosphere, it was a perfect way to celebrate 2 years of love!
Our overall bill came to about £60. This was including 12% service added to the bill. I think this is brilliant for what we had. Let me remind you; unlimited chicken and ribs, half a pound of calamari, two buckets of fries, a large bowl of coleslaw, a large bowl of BBQ Beans and 4 large cokes. An absolute bargain in my opinion. Also worth adding if you can't finish what you have ordered then you can take it away in a doggy bag!
~** EXTRAS **~
The Big Easy also offers live entertainment. I didn't see any myself as Mondays is their day off. But starting at 8:30 Sunday - Thursday and at 9:00 Friday & Saturday, live music takes over the main dining room at Big Easy. I can't really imagine it adding to the restaurant to be honest. The volume is already quite high and the venue small. So the band really would take over the remaining space of sound. Then again, I would definitely go on another night just to see what it was like.
Napkins! Napkins! Napkins. Maybe not a big deal in a normal restaurant and usually one would be enough. But I was pleased that on the table, next to the salt, pepper and sauces was a wad of napkins ready for our sticky fingers. I hate asking, waiting and searching for napkins when I eat out. So I am glad that The Big Easy understands the needs of its customers and a simple thing like this makes a difference.
If you want to take kids along you will be pleased to know they have a kids menu for under 10's. It costs £5.95 and they get a main (everything from ribs to macaroni), one side and a drink. They also organise children's parties which is quite a nice idea if you have an up and coming cowboy or cowgirl!
~** RECOMMENDATION **~
Will I come here again? Yes!
Should you make your own visit? Yes!
I recommend this to meat lovers who like a fun, friendly atmosphere. Lively but relaxed it is a great place to take friends for a nice meal. Lots to choose from at great prices. You will be full up with a main but the starters are hard to refuse, let alone the desserts.
The location is great to get too, just remember to book a table. The only downside is the time limit, but it really is long enough and I am sure they will spare you a few minutes to finish you cheesecake.
I want to go again to try the shrimp and then again to try the lobster. It has definitely become a favourite of mine and I recommend anyone to give it a try.
~** QUICK BITS **~
Address: Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack 332-334 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UR
Phone number: 020 7352 4071
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 12 noon - 11pm, Friday & Saturdays 12 noon - 12.00am
Payment?: Cash or card