I don’t often come out of a restaurant thinking “Damn that was perfect”, but Chapters in Blackheath is one of the few that I have. We all crave a local restaurant that we can go to for reliably good food and value, and this is the one for me.
It has pretty much everything you could want: classy but relaxed décor; attentive but unobtrusive service; incredible food and drink; and it’s great value for money – from the a la carte or set menu. Value that was surprising, given it also has 2 AA rosettes to its name.
Take for instance the starter of smoked ham hock croquettes. 4 crispy fritters, packed with unctuous shredded pork that was perfectly accompanied by a mustard tinged herb mayonnaise – all for £6.95. A large portion easily split between two, especially with the bread and butter they offer to all guests (the parmesan and rosemary focaccia is superb).
As a secret hater of truffle oil (only the oil mind you), the daily special of leek and potato (£5.55) with truffle oil wasn’t particularly interesting until I tasted my girlfriend’s order. Perfectly balanced amount of truffle flavour versus the leek and potato, my only complaint is that the croutons were slightly overseasoned – not in itself a negative thing for some. Mains of the John Dory daily special (£14.95) with roast hazelnuts and celeriac puree was superb, with crispy skin and flaky flesh, and the vegetarian roast butternut squash (£13.50) was pulled together with the smoky aubergine caviar and pomegranate molasses. Delicious.
The dessert menu had a host of mouth watering options too, including a sticky toffee pudding, vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb sorbet, and the one we ordered, a baked vanilla cheesecake with granola and apple sorbet (£5.95). Easily one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had in some time, with crunch from the granola and a mouth cleansing kick from the sorbet.
Chapters now also offer a luxury hamper (£45) for guests to take away with them, which I can comfortably say, after taking away and eating away at over the weekend, easily feeds about 3 to 4 people and not the 2 it suggests. It includes a charcuterie, mixed pickles, bread, salads, couscous, roast pork belly (which I grilled at home to crisp up again) with potatoes and fennel, and decadently rich chocolate brownies.
If it seems like I’m in love with Chapters, it’s because I sort of am. Chapters was a fantastic evening of almost impeccably cooked food, attentive service and a menu that reads like a dream. Everything sounds enticing, with no single dish sounding particularly dull or repetitive. I’m already planning my next meal back to the restaurant, even if it’s just to get my hands on those croquettes again!