IT WAS the era of shoulder pads, big hair and Duran Duran. Some even say the decade that style forgot.
But Barbarella in Chelsea views the 80s somewhat differently and has turned back the clock to revive its original menu, with prices to match.
With its black canopy out the front and the descent down several steps to the front door, there is a definite late-night bar feel to Barbarella. And that is essentially what it is, and the reason most people go there.
The interior is dark, with mirrored walls, booths and coloured lighting, and has a number of distinct areas including a bar with plenty of space for revellers both standing and seated, and a separate seated area for diners.
We were directed to a pair of cream pouffes around a small table and handed two menus – the 80s one with barely believable prices and one put together by new head chef Lauren Clement Delbos.
The new menu takes inspiration from the Mediterranean, and includes sea bass Cartoccio with white wine, samphire, fennel and new potatoes (£18) and homemade tiramisu (£7).
We decided to split our choices between both menus, to get the best feel we could for the restaurant.
To start, from the new menu, I chose the melon and Parma ham with a small rocket salad (£6.50), while my friend chose the burrata with cherry tomatoes and basil oil (£7).
For me, the Parma ham was a little too salty, but still combined well with the juicy slices of melon and the peppery rocket. It was a good plateful as well, so we certainly got our money’s worth. The burrata was sweet and creamy, complementing the cherry tomatoes perfectly.
As we looked to the main courses, both of us switched to the revived 80s choices, as I went for pollo alla ‘Latin Lover’ (£4.60) and my companion opting for the petit pois tagliolini (£1.95).
Mine was deep fried chicken breast stuffed with butter, garlic and parsley sauce – effectively a posh chicken kiev. The meat was tender and the filling creamy, combining for a real melt-in-the-mouth taste.
And thankfully it was worlds away from the chicken kievs you might pick up in the freezer aisle in Tesco.
The petit pois tagliolini, as the name suggests, was peas with tagliolini pasta in a creme fraiche sauce. I’m assured this was delicious; the velvety rich sauce binding the peas and pasta together beautifully.
And the servings were generous enough that we knew we would struggle with a dessert each.
In the end, we shared some ice-cream – the perfect finish to the meal, which was all washed down with a couple of glasses of pinot grigio.
Sadly the 80s menu and its staggeringly low prices is only temporary, but I can highly recommend the food from whichever list you choose. And although for many Barbarella is very much a late-night destination, do not overlook it for dinner. You would be missing out.