Great dinner date venues in Chester
Editor of Taste Today, Jo Cooksey takes us on a culinary tour of historic Chester for her top recommendations for a dinner date
Perched on the banks of the River Dee, a stone’s throw from the English/Welsh border, the ancient city of Chester has an air of mystery and romance surrounding it. From the city walls that have stood since its Roman occupation to the pretty Medieval style run of black and white buildings known as The Rows, Chester just begs to be explored. You could while away a couple of hours here with that special someone or even an entire weekend. There is much to see and do and plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from.
Elegant Fine Dining
From the moment you enter the doors of the 5 star Chester Grosvenor Hotel you know you are in for treat. This Grade II listed building is nestled in the heart of old Chester by the Eastgate Clock. Inside it is elegance personified, with twinkling chandeliers and sumptuous fabrics. The hotel boasts two award-winning restaurants, La Brassiere for a more relaxed meal and for really making an impression on your loved one, the Michelin starred Simon Radley. They have held this Michelin award consistently since 1990, so as you can imagine the dinner date experience is of the highest standard. You can chose the Signature, A La Carte or the 8 course Tasting menus. Or perhaps Afternoon Tea? Whatever your choice you will definitely earn brownie points for choosing such a beautiful, top-notch venue.
If you are looking for a more relaxed but still award winning dining experience then why not book a table at Joseph Benjamin. Owned by rising stars of the Chester culinary scene, Ben and Joe Wright, their ethos is simply to serve the best quality local and seasonal food available in a relaxed and totally unpretentious atmosphere. Their style is described as Modern British-European and the menu, which changes monthly, is a mix of classic and more contemporary dishes such as braised oxtail, watercress risotto, roast radish and crispy fried oyster. Or perhaps coconut rice pudding with mango and lime. The restaurant has a held a Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’ award for the last three years.
The brothers also own the tapas bar next door, Porta Tapas. This is a place to head to if you want to spend a relaxed time with your date, nibbling and chatting. Their Spanish chef, Javier, serves the dishes you would expect such as Patatas Bravas and Squid with Alioli. But then there are also more rustic choices such as Morcilla (Iberian black pudding) with onions, pinenuts and sultanas and slow roast ox cheek with pickled walnuts.
If you are looking to take your date somewhere a little more ‘off the wall’ then you should have a wander to the Chef’s Table, which describes itself as an independent foodie hub. It is intimate in size but the interior is bright and fresh. Everything on their ever changing, seasonal menu is sourced locally and made fresh on the premises. Hung on the walls are canvasses by local artists and if your dinner date is late you can always pore over their collection of second hand cooks books, which are available to purchase if one catches your eye. You can also watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. The menu is quirky, offering such flavour combinations as Buttermilk chicken with bacon and coffee jam or Roast duck with rhubarb, feta cheese and spiced lentils. All of which work stunningly well together and are beautifully presented.
Another original venue is the Commonhall Street Social Club. If you can’t bear to be parted from your canine chum whilst on date then bob in for their amazing Sunday lunch and ‘Fido’ is not only welcomed but also eats for free. The stripped back vintage interior and great music adds to the laid back vibe, with big squashy cushions to help you relax. If the weather is good you can sit out on the terrace where the furniture is made of old pallets and they will even provide you with sunscreen for free if you need it. The menu here is small but perfectly formed, featuring comfort food favourites such as Sardines on toast and Steak and chips. You can even order a side of Chip shop curry sauce to dip your chips in.
Cocktails and dining
If you and your companion want to enjoy a cocktail before or after your meal then why not try Luke’s Eating House, which sits above Gin Rickey’s Cocktail Bar and its huge collection of gin brands. The restaurant and bar have a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, New York type feel about them, yet the atmosphere is chilled. Luke’s promises an ‘eclectic drinking and dining experience’ and both the food and cocktail menus seems to bear this out. In the restaurant they take good, honest local ingredients, give them a twist, and then cook them beautifully. For instance, rump of sweet Welsh lamb rump is treated with Moroccan harissa and served with olive oil mashed potato, a tapenade and piquillo pepper ketchup. They also do an amazing, not to be missed, side dish of Lobster Mac n Cheese.
Out of town dining
Just outside Chester is the suburb of Hoole, which is home to the much-lauded restaurant, Sticky Walnut. Owner and Head Chef, Gary Usher heads up the young team and last year it won the title of UK Restaurant of the Year in the AA Hospitality Awards. However, this is not a pompous restaurant that looks down its nose at you but a warm and welcoming one that will have you coming back for years to come. Whichever dishes you and your companion chose you will be guaranteed top-notch flavours and food cooked with love and care. A note to the wise, the Sticky Walnut is due to have a sister restaurant soon. It will be called The Burnt Truffle and the funding for it was raised through a Kickstarter campaign. What a very modern and rather wonderful way to find out how much your clientele values you.
Want more date inspiration? Check out the eHarmony Great Date Guide.
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