CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe for £25 today CLICK HERE

Restaurant review: Chapter One, Orpington

PUBLISHED: 12:56 04 November 2019

Roast grouse with choucroute (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Roast grouse with choucroute (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

The story of Chapter One continues to evolve under the expert touch of executive chef-patron Andrew McLeish

Change is afoot at Chapter One, the restaurant where executive chef-patron Andy McLeish has tempted tastebuds from near and far for an impressive 19 years.

Two years ago Andy and his business partner and long-time friend Marcel Faulstich, who has a background in banking, bought the Locksbottom favourite from financier Ken Sanker. The move put Andy back full time in the kitchen and able to concentrate solely on the core business.

This has included a recent six-figure refurbishment, which has changed the bar and brasserie beyond recognition (think peacock blues and greens and gorgeous soft lighting), added a newly designed private dining room and made a real feature of the terrace at the front of the restaurant. There are still some planning issues to contend with, but the al fresco option proved a real boon during late summer's very welcome heatwave.

My Blonde Mate and I admired the new decor as we perched on high bar stools with a glass of chilled Champagne apiece and big, fat green olives and spiced mixed nuts to nibble.

Chapter One is well placed to attract loyal locals as welll as fans from London (photo: Manu Palomeque)Chapter One is well placed to attract loyal locals as welll as fans from London (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Andy is still supported in the kitchen by his loyal long-term head chef Dean Ferguson, who joined Chapter One as a commis chef back in 2001 and worked his way up through the ranks.

The duo delivers an impressive, seasonally changing menu for the main restaurant and a significantly improved brasserie selection, where you'll now find grilled red mullet with courgette and lime tzatziki or tagliatelle of venison ragout sitting alongside fish and chips and rib-eye steak.

Settled in plush blue seats at a crisply white-clothed corner table in the large, elegant dining room we spread butter thickly onto home-made bread and studied the exceptionally well put-together à la carte menu.

Kentish blackberries adorn this dainty mille-feuille (photo: Manu Palomeque)Kentish blackberries adorn this dainty mille-feuille (photo: Manu Palomeque)

No easy options here, intead prepare yourself for the most exquisite of plates loaded with the biggest and boldest of flavours.

On our visit compressed pig's head with a mustard dressing, braised snails with Kentish cobnuts and smoked haddock kedgeree were among starters.

They gave way to choices that included roebuck venison haunch, roast cod with sweetcorn purée, Josper-grilled gilt head black bream served with Moscatel vinegar and garlic emulsion. Told you it was uncompromising.

Delicious mushroom Asian broth (photo: Manu Palomeque)Delicious mushroom Asian broth (photo: Manu Palomeque)

My clear mushroom Asian broth with a crab and scallop tortellino as a treasure at its heart would put you right back on your feet if you were feeling a little poorly: exquisitely restorative, delicate but with a subtle kick.

Less loved was MBM's deep-fried courgette flower with goat's cheese, a Romesco sauce and hazlenut dressing, which she found a little too creamy for her taste. However pressed and roast shoulder and rump of lamb, got a big thumb's up, especially presented with silky aubergine, braised baby gem and (vibrantly orange) tahini yoghurt, matched by a hearty Argentinian Malbec.

I tried my first-ever grouse - and how that is the case after so many restaurant reviews, I have no idea - but that missing experience is now well and truly ticked off my 'must try' list.

Much lighter than I'd expected, very tender and with a mild gamey taste, it was served simply with choucroute, silverskin onions, pancetta and grouse jus.

Worth mentioning, vegetables need to be ordered separately, something we weren't reminded of until our rather, well, brown platefuls arrived - however, once we'd got a splash of green beans alongside our meat, aesthetic and taste harmony was restored. Somehow the largely European staff heard us from the other side of the room (quietly) regret not choosing vegetables and magicked them up in a trice.

Puddings were the usual Chapter One triumph and revealed the talents of a new pastry chef in the kitchen. Peter Turnpenny may be a big lad of few words, but his touch with a passionfruit mille-feuille layered with Kentish blackberries was gossamer light. MBM chose well.

The coolly stylish main restaurant (photo: Manu Palomeque)The coolly stylish main restaurant (photo: Manu Palomeque)

As did her chocoholic friend - and I learnt a new word too: Manjari is a dark chocolate with a 64 per cent cocoa solid content. Fashioned into a dense marquise with coffee mousse, it was refreshingly enhanced by lemony, lime Calamansi sorbet alongside.

Back in the oh-so-inviting brasserie, MBM, Andy, Marcel and I put the world to rights over coffee and petit-fours (us), cold beers for the boys after their long, hot evening of front-of-house service and kitchen wizardry.

Come here for something light from the brasserie, for a celebratory dinner, a drink and nibbles on the terrace or one of the brilliant masterclasses. Awesome Andy never disappoints.

The essentials

What: Stylish moderrn restaurant

Where: Chapter One, Farnborough Common, Locksbottom, BR6 8NF, 01689 854848, info@chapteronerestaurant.co.uk

When: Lunch Mon-Sat 12-2.30pm, Sun 12-3pm; dinner Mon-Thu 6.30-10.30pm, Fri & Sat 6.30-11.30pm,

Sun 6.30-9pm

How much: Three courses £42.95; tasting menu £64.95, plus wine flight £35 per person

More from Food & Drink

Tue, 08:02

'Kent, sir, everyone knows Kent. Apples, cherries, hops and women,' proclaims a character in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. We have gathered some traditional dishes from around the county that were borne of the fruitful orchards and seas of Kent

Read more

One of the many things we excel at is afternoon tea, and in Kent there are few finer settings than Eastwell Manor

Read more

The story of Chapter One continues to evolve under the expert touch of executive chef-patron Andrew McLeish

Read more

Meet the young man determined to take his family's fruit and cobnut farm into the future

Read more
Thursday, October 24, 2019

After a long nomination and judging process we can reveal the finalists for the Kent Life Food & Drink Awards 2019 taking place at the Ashford International Hotel on November 28

Read more
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Wine Garden of England Festival is taking place at Rochester Cathedral in November, in celebration of the fact that some of the finest tipples can be found right here in Kent

Read more
Thursday, October 10, 2019

The chef-patron of Chapter One, Andy McLeish, on an old family favourite, pumpkin pie

Read more

The Best Western combines Victorian detail with modern convenience and offers a cracking steak house too

Read more
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

From Creole-inspired seafood to rustic Italian dishes, Margate is rapidly becoming one of Kent's top places to eat. We've gathered 10 of the best places to eat in the town

Read more
Friday, August 30, 2019

No Sunday is complete without a roast dinner, and in the glorious county of Kent you'll be spoilt for choice with fantastic places to go. We have picked 12 great places where you can indulge in a roast with all the trimmings

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life