Chapter One, Locksbottom, reviewed
PUBLISHED: 00:16 21 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:31 20 February 2013
Celebrating the feast of St Valentine or simply want to impress your date? Then it doesn't come much better than this Michelin-starred favourite...
Despite its Michelin star, four AA rosettes and impressive modern European menu, at Chapter One you get an endearing feeling that value for money is just as important as award-winning food.
Three courses at dinner is 33.50, for lunch its 23 and theres a less formal brasserie menu available Monday to Saturday lunchtimes. So you get to wine and dine your Valentine with exceptional food without breaking the bank. In a nutshell, its West End-style cuisine at suburban prices.
Dont be put off by the setting next to a busy main road inside all is glamorous and theres a distinct New York sort of vibe, though my choice of outfit meant that I did rather blend in with the smart red and black decor.
Its a large space, too, seating 110 downstairs and a further 50 in the upstairs private dining room, so you wont get a lot of intimacy and the keen pricing means that it is always booked up, but tables are well spaced and service is both slick and friendly. And dont be afraid to ask questions: the black-clad staff are eager to help.
Head chef Andrew McLeishs confident and accomplished cooking suits the surroundings perfectly and takes a modern European approach based on classical techniques, with dishes displaying innovation alongside distinct flavours, balanced combinations and high skill.
From a choice of eight starters, I chose the extremely delicious and refreshing salad of wood pigeon with pata negra (cured ham) and a lovely contrasting crunch of walnuts and celeriac. A perfect appetite whetter.
My Artist Friend adores duck but was a little taken aback by his pressed terrine of foie gras and smoked duck breast, finding it over-rich for his taste. The presentation, however, with a scattering of roasted Macadamia nuts was admired and the accompanying toasted fruit bread proved a big hit, but I think he would have preferred a glass of my Argentinian Malbec than the suggested Pineau des Charetes reserve.
To follow, I chose the fish of the day pan-fried black bream on a bed of mussels and chorizo, a robust and gutsy dish packed with flavour and great with a glass of Chablis.
MAF went for the chefs signaturedish, his justly famous pot roast belly of free-range pork, cooked long and slow for approximately 12 hours until its tender enough to practically eat with a spoon. Served with caramelised onions, red wine-braised salsify and apple and pok just, it had a real sweetness about it and worked particularly well with a glass of Rioja.
Other tempting main course choices included roast Charts Farm Sika venison, pan-fried Kent coast cod and for the vegetarian diners, just one option of tatin of shallots with celeriac pure, pickled beetroot and sorrel cress.
Desserts at 7.50 are exceptional value and, determined to end his meal as simply as possible, after two rich courses, MAF declared the organic lemon tart with creme frache sorbet and a millefeuille of passion fruit the hit of the evening.
I was less successful with my choice of white chocolate panacotta with pistachio espuma (foam), but it was entirely my own fault as Id forgotten that I dont actually like panacotta. The lime sorbet with it was lovely, however, and we finished with excellent coffee and chocolates.
Chapter One remains one of the top restaurant experiences in Kent and with Andrew McLeish at the helm, you know youre in safe and expert hands.
Chapter One, Farnborough Common
Locksbottom, BR6 8NF
Tel:01689 854 848
Typical prices: salad of wood pigeon
8, pot roast belly of pork 18, organic lemon tart 7.50
Restaurant open: Mon-Sat 12pm-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm; Sun