On a wet and windy Thursday night we sought refuge in the Chapel 1877, a grade 2 listed house of worship now converted into an amazing restaurant.
We booked a late table for dinner arriving at Eight O’clock to an almost full and buzzing restaurant. Inside, the chapel conversion had created four floors of space – the ground floor offered a bar and casual dining, whilst upstairs were three floors (two mezzanine) with not a bad table in the building.
Our two person table looked out across the mezzanine to a group of larger tables and a collection of romantic booths. Like small confessionals, these booths offered banquette seating for 2 tucked away behind plush velvet curtains. Next time we are definitely booking one of those!
Our waiter was quick to bring the menus before disappearing to look after others. The menu was not huge but all of the food sounded great and looked delicious as it came out to other tables. We chose Curried scallops, Bombay potatoes, mango salsa, tempura cauliflower and Saffron cured mackerel, tomato chutney, smoked mackerel pâté, shaved cucumber, rye crisp to start.
For the wine we chose to order by the glass, White Villa Molina Pinot Grigio for Katherine and Red Paso Ancho Merlot Reserve for me.
The crisp white, and buttery red wine served as good company whilst we chatted for over half an hour before sight of our starters.
The beautifully presented Scallops were delicately curried and topped with a delicious cauliflower tempura. The paté was light and flavoursome, the tangy tomato chutney was a an unexpected compliment that really added to the dish. Some more of the Rye bread would have been nice, but not a major issue.
My glass clearly had a leak so a refresh was in order. Then began the long wait. I could see the other large tables were straining the restaurant as we watched the dirty glasses stack up on the bar. Great company and a great buzz meant the time was going quickly but we did start to worry when our main courses hadn’t arrived after another long wait. The waiting staff must have noticed our concerns as they came over and promised our meals were on their way.
After a few more minutes they came back to confirm that our meals had been cooked, but had been delivered to another table.
So another table had ordered exactly the same as us? 280g Rib-eye Steak – medium- with Chapel skin on chips, roast garlic button mushrooms, sweet caramelised onions, thyme butter and green peppercorn sauce and Pan roasted fillet of sea trout, sautéed diced potatoes, without chorizo, gem lettuce, peas, lemon and dill .
What a coincidence!
The waiting staff were keen to appease and offered to pay for our drinks, which was a nice touch. There was no offer of bread, or something to keep us going.
Yet again, the dishes were worth waiting for. The steak was juicy and tender, the peppercorn sauce was a great compliment and the chips were, chips.
Katherine’s Sea Trout had a delicate flavour and delicious crispy skin. She doesn’t usually like fish skin but ate all of this , which must be a good sign! The accompanying samphire could have been very salty but acted as the perfect balance to the fish.
After almost two hours seated we chose not to have dessert instead, asking for Fresh Mint Tea.
We had a good evening, the small chairs were comfortable and two hours passed quickly.
However, there were a number of elements that could have been improved to make this a truly great evening.
I appreciate with a busy restaurant, there may be a little wait for fresh food. But not such a long wait. Giving our dishes to another table was just a text book error that should not have happened.
When asking for fresh mint tea, we are hoping for fresh mint, in hot water. Not a mint tea bag – these often have caffeine which is not what we need at the end of a meal.
The offer of covering our drinks bill was a kind one that we accepted. I Was surprised then to see the drinks appear on the bill. In their defence the mint tea was not charged but I am not sure if that was their definition of paying for drinks or just an oversight.
I am always happy to pay service charge for the waiting staff, but I take umbrage when it is included without my consent, especially after some glaring errors in the service like this.
The bill was settled without fuss. The overall value was still good (just over £100 for 2 x two courses and three glasses of wine) and we will come back. I hope these service issues were just a hiccup in the normal service.
PS a more frequent check of the ladies loo wouldn’t go amiss.