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Editor Kelly Andrews heads to Orpington to get the lowdown on Chapter One’s new look.
Award-winning restaurant Chapter One recently reopened with an Art Deco look inspired by the site’s history and a menu to rival London’s dining scene. Following the six-figure refurbishment, it now offers a super-stylish brasserie and bar, alongside a refined restaurant. What really made me sit up and pay attention, though, was the private dining room that’s available for intimate wedding receptions. The possibility pairing nuptials with fine dining appealed to me, so I just had to pop along and check it out.
I was warmly welcomed by the charming managing partner, Marcel Faulstich, who took over ownership of the restaurant in August 2017 with business partner and chef patron Andrew McLeish. Settled comfortably at a lovely corner table by the window, I was able to get my first look at the à la carte menu. The food offering is ambitious and includes a three-course lunch menu du jour that changes weekly and seasonally inspired seven-course tasting menus. In the informal brasserie, a special weekly sharing dish includes a bottle of wine for two, perfect for midweek suppers.
My selection for starter was an Asian broth with crab and scallop tortellini. The broth was incredibly flavourful with just a warming touch of heat. I must admit, chicken carries a slight stigma for me. It’s my worst nightmare when it comes to a wedding breakfast and, to my tastebuds, tends to be painfully bland. So I thought I’d issue a challenge and order the chicken with gnocchi, morel mushrooms and a chicken jus. And you know what? I had no idea chicken could taste so good! The dish was packed with rich flavour, and the morel mushrooms were a wonderful surprise, complementing the chicken beautifully. The potato and olive oil puree was similarly incredible, so much so I’ve tried to recreate it at home since, with limited success. I’ve never been so sad to finish a meal! In fact, it was at this point my mum and I started plotting our return visit, as some conciliation for my plate’s now being empty. We were three for three by the time I’d reached my last spoonful of the peanut parfait with peanut brittle and raspberry sorbet, which was equally as delicious as the preceding courses.
After relaxing with a cup of tea, a salted caramel truffle and a passion fruit jelly, we headed upstairs to explore the private dining room. A welcoming space, it’s imbued with the same Art Deco elegance present throughout and offers the flexibility to become your dream reception. With a boardroom table layout, it can host 18 of your nearest and dearest, there’s space for 20 in the horseshoe configuration and 50 in five rounds. The area also has its own bar with space for a drinks reception and evening entertainment.
Andrew has created a delicious choice of perfectly balanced menus for a three-course wedding breakfast, hot and cold canapés and hot and cold buffet options. You and your guests will dine like royalty, with a whole host of mouthwatering options available such as ravioli of lobster and buttered spinach with a lobster and cognac sauce to start; for main, a fillet of beef wellington with a ragout of mushrooms, baby onions, pancetta and bordelaise sauce; and to finish, hot Valrhona chocolate fondant, chocolate soil, griottine cherries and vanilla ice cream. The choice is impressive, to say the least.
The team at Chapter One is confident the changes will cement the restaurant’s reputation as one of the best places to eat in Kent – as am I! The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For more information, check out www.chapteronerestaurant.co.uk
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