Restaurant review: Chez Jules, Chester - celebrating 25 years
- Credit: Lost in Cheshire
Our Chester-based travel writer, Samantha Haylor, took our food editors, Jamie and Richard from Lost in Cheshire, to celebrate with Chez Jules on their 25th anniversary
I love Chester, not just to eat but to experience the history and soak up the atmosphere as the city comes alive at night. And there is no better place to experience all of this than the top of Northgate Street - home to Chez Jules.
The city centre French restaurant is ideally located in a beautifully presented Tudor building, just a hop and a jump from the city walls. The magnificent building never fails to wow me with its characteristic exterior; a lavish use of half-timber work, beautiful bay windows and a complex roof design with multiple gables.
We arrived to a bustling restaurant full of character. A warm and welcoming space framed by floor to ceiling windows. We were greeted and shown to our window seat, complete with chequered tablecloth, and views out to Rufus Court and its cobbled streets.
Chez Jules Carte des Vins
As my eyes roamed over the extensive selection of wines I was delighted to see that they stocked some of my favourites: M De Minuty Rosé, a rosé wine from Côtes de Provence, the scenic Saint Tropez Peninsula in the Provencal village of Gassin, France. Not only are they one of the very last châteaux in Provence to pick their grapes by hand, they are also one of only 18 châteaux to be designated Cru Classé (the best of the best). Sancerre Duc Armand, a white wine from Upper Loire in the Loire Valley, France. Sancerre sets the world’s benchmark for Sauvignon Blanc and this sixth generation family estate produces wine thoroughly deserving of the term ‘classic’. Genetie Pinot Noir ‘Illumine’, sourced from the classic heartland of Burgundy where Pinot Noir is king.
We opted for a bottle of the Sancerre and as soon as I took my first sip I know we made the right choice, beautifully balanced with ripe citrus notes, it’s the perfect pairing for cheeses and white meats.
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Chez Jules 25th Années
We had been invited to Chez Jules to celebrate their 25th Années (birthday). The city-centre French restaurant filled their menu with old favourites of owner and founder Jason Ellison, who, while travelling through France, fell in love with the French way of creating a daily changing menu, handwritten, with dishes made from the fresh food available on the local market.
He explains: ‘There are not many restaurants who still operate how we do in the UK today. We make every dish fresh and in-house. Our chefs buy our food daily and when something runs out, we take it off the menu – in fact we don’t use a freezer at all. We have a mission to keep on providing quality ingredients and simple cooking that is value for money for the next 25 years too!’
Chez Jules plates are inspired by traditional and authentic French cuisine such as French onion soup, escargots, beef bourguignon and demi poulet rôti. The seasonal and daily changing menu is designed to wow guests in a relaxed environment at a great value price
Chez Jules Entrées
To start I chose Tartiflette, a hearty mountain dish of smoked bacon, potatoes, onions and Reblochon cheese, Richard chose the Grilled Goats Cheese, honey and lavender served with a side of toast, and Jamie opted for the Chicken Liver Pâté. It was all so good we devoured every last morsel.
Plats de Résistence
Authentic French food in Chester since 1997, two of us opted for the slow cooked Boeuf Bourguignon in thyme and red wine with shallots, mushrooms and bacon, accompanied by a side of colourful and perfectly cooked vegetables served on a skillet. The beef was tender and well seasoned and the creamy richness of the gratin dauphinoise potatoes still makes my mouth water.
Jamie had chosen the Demi Poulet Rôti, the the perfect choice for a beautiful summer's evening. Juicy and delicious, served with spicy butter, frites, salad and an accompanying, and generous, dollop of aïoli.
Desserts et fromage
Too tempting to miss, and after all no meal is quite complete without a desert.
I chose the Toffee Cheesecake, which was served with a chunky spear of peanut brittle – and although I was well and truly full to the brim I finished every spoonful.
Richard's Crème Brûlée was served with a deliciously buttery shortbread biscuit and Jamie's Tarte au Citron, with raspberries and chantilly cream, was absolute heaven - possibly the most French of desserts you can imagine, presented to lucky Cheshire diners.
Top Tip: Chez Jules portions are large, but you should always keep room for a dessert.
Chez Jules first captured my heart when we moved to Chester six years ago, and I was excited to share the experience with Jamie and Richard, albeit a little nervous. Would one of my favourite dining destinations live up to the expectations of others?
They say that the first impression is the last impression - did Chez Jules live up to expectations?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Richard says: "Chez Jules has definitely been on our radar for a while and, we’re happy to report, definitely surpassed expectations. We felt right at home in old world France. Carbs and comfort food aplenty, we were able to slip into a Sancerre (great choice Sam!) induced haze and talk the night away. Thank you for having us, both Sam & Chez Jules."
The French bistro has an unrivalled atmosphere and dining environment. If you’ve not experienced Chez Jules yet, now is the time. And if you have been longing to return this is your queue to treat yourself. It's no surprise to me that this wonderful little restaurant is celebrating its 25th anniversaire, it is truly one of Chester's culinary jewels.