Chapter One, Locksbottom, reviewed
Celebrating the feast of St Valentine or simply want to impress your date? Then it doesn't come much better than this Michelin-starred favourite...
Despite its Michelin star, four AA rosettes and impressive modern European menu, at Chapter One you get an endearing feeling that value for money is just as important as award-winning food.
Three courses at dinner is �33.50, for lunch it’s �23 and there’s a less formal brasserie menu available Monday to Saturday lunchtimes. So you get to wine and dine your Valentine with exceptional food without breaking the bank. In a nutshell, it’s West End-style cuisine at suburban prices.
Don’t be put off by the setting next to a busy main road – inside all is glamorous and there’s a distinct New York sort of vibe, though my choice of outfit meant that I did rather blend in with the smart red and black decor.
It’s a large space, too, seating 110 downstairs and a further 50 in the upstairs private dining room, so you won’t get a lot of intimacy and the keen pricing means that it is always booked up, but tables are well spaced and service is both slick and friendly. And don’t be afraid to ask questions: the black-clad staff are eager to help.
Head chef Andrew McLeish’s confident and accomplished cooking suits the surroundings perfectly and takes a modern European approach based on classical techniques, with dishes displaying innovation alongside distinct flavours, balanced combinations and high skill.
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From a choice of eight starters, I chose the extremely delicious and refreshing salad of wood pigeon with pata negra (cured ham) and a lovely contrasting crunch of walnuts and celeriac. A perfect appetite whetter.
My Artist Friend adores duck but was a little taken aback by his pressed terrine of foie gras and smoked duck breast, finding it over-rich for his taste. The presentation, however, with a scattering of roasted Macadamia nuts was admired and the accompanying toasted fruit bread proved a big hit, but I think he would have preferred a glass of my Argentinian Malbec than the suggested Pineau des Charetes reserve.
To follow, I chose the fish of the day – pan-fried black bream on a bed of mussels and chorizo, a robust and gutsy dish packed with flavour and great with a glass of Chablis.
MAF went for the chef’s signature dish, his justly famous pot roast belly of free-range pork, cooked long and slow for approximately 12 hours until it’s tender enough to practically eat with a spoon. Served with caramelised onions, red wine-braised salsify and apple and pok just, it had a real sweetness about it and worked particularly well with a glass of Rioja.Other tempting main course choices included roast Charts Farm Sika venison, pan-fried Kent coast cod and for the vegetarian diners, just one option of tatin of shallots with celeriac pur�e, pickled beetroot and sorrel cress.
Desserts at �7.50 are exceptional value and, determined to end his meal as simply as possible, after two rich courses, MAF declared the organic lemon tart with creme fra�che sorbet and a millefeuille of passion fruit the hit of the evening.
I was less successful with my choice of white chocolate panacotta with pistachio espuma (foam), but it was entirely my own fault as I’d forgotten that I don’t actually like panacotta. The lime sorbet with it was lovely, however, and we finished with excellent coffee and chocolates.
Chapter One remains one of the top restaurant experiences in Kent and with Andrew McLeish at the helm, you know you’re in safe and expert hands.
Chapter One, Farnborough CommonLocksbottom, BR6 8NFTel:01689 854 firstname.lastname@example.orgTypical prices: salad of wood pigeon �8, pot roast belly of pork �18, organic lemon tart �7.50Restaurant open: Mon-Sat 12pm-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm; Sun 12pm-2:45pm, 6:30pm-9pm