Cheshire Life Luncheon - 1539 restaurant, Chester Racecourse
PUBLISHED: 19:50 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:26 20 February 2013
Expectations were high when Cheshire Life guests descended for lunch at Chester Racecourse's 1539 restaurant. What a thrilling finish! Words by: Ray King Photography by: John Cocks
1539 Restaurant & Bar, The Racecourse, Chester CH1 2LY; Tel: 01244 304611;
Restaurant open all year:
Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm and 6pm-10pm; Sat noon 10.30pm; Sun noon 7pm.
A la carte starters 4.75 - 12.50; mains 12.50 - 27; sides 3 - 3.50; desserts 4.50 - 6. Set lunch 10 for two courses; 13.50 for three. Sunday lunch 14.50 for two courses.
Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu
Bridlington crab croute, pickled cucumber, White crab, sweet fried onions
Fiore di Maggio Bianco 2010, Tuscany, Italy
Roast breast of chicken, basil and parmesan pure, ratatouille tortellini
Cote de Brouilly 2008, Domaine Joncy, Beaujolais, France
Passion fruit custard, light orange caramel
Tea and coffee
Some tales seem just too cute to be true and this is one of them.
On February 9th 1539, during the reign of the merry monarch King Henry Vlll, the first recorded horse race in history took place in Chester with the consent of the mayor, Henry Gee. Not only did the mayor introduce whats become known as the Sport of Kings at the Roodee, he also, so the story goes, lent his name to the gee-gees that have raced there and everywhere else ever since.
That first race was commemorated 469 years later when the chic new modern restaurant at Chester Racecourse was opened and named 1539, offering panoramic views over the course, the River Dee and beyond that are spectacular whether the gee-gees are in action or not.
The last time Mrs King and I were at the Roodee, the last race on the card proved gratifyingly profitable. A long shot with an inside draw took full advantage of Chesters tightly curved course and romped home at 14-1. And our winning streak continued when 1539 Restaurant and Bar, having gone from strength to strength since it opened four years ago, hosted Cheshire Lifes December luncheon.
Guests gathered in the striking contemporary surroundings of the Ruinart at the Roof lounge for welcoming flutes of Fantinel Extra Dry Prosecco, a delicate, flowery sparkler with a fine mousse that danced on the tongue; no wonder this Italian sparkler from the Friuli region of north east Italy is becoming such fashionable fizz.
Downstairs in the restaurant the views are no less splendid through the floor-ceiling windows. The flat meadows enclosed by a loop of the Dee, on which the course is laid out just outside the ancient city walls, used to be Chesters port, bustling with Roman galleys but the river silted up, eventually providing Mayor Gees gee-gees with a perfect spot.
South African-born Darren Gallagher, 1539s head chef since March following promotion after a year as sous chef and a former member of the brigade at the Chester Grosvenor, is continuing the restaurants commendable policy of sourcing the best local and seasonal produce and employing it with imagination and aplomb.
Our starter was a joy: Bridlington crab croute served with pickled cucumber, white crab meat and sweet fried onions; a delightful melange of complimentary delicate flavours with which the wine, a subtly fruited Tuscan white, married exceptionally well.
Italian nuances permeated the main course too. Roasted supreme of chicken, served perfectly moist and flavoursome, came with its juices delightfully lifted by an inspired basil and Parmesan puree and a deftly fashioned ratatouille tortellini.
The red wine was a classic match for fine roast chicken, Cote de Brouilly from one of the ten Cru villages in Beaujolais, delivering concentrated yet elegant raspberry fruit with a twist of spice. Folk who think nouveau represents Beaujolais should try a corker like this.
Dessert partnered light orange caramel with a delicious passion fruit custard tart in pastry that would have had Mary Berry drooling over its perfection. It rounded off a memorable lunch in what has become a destination restaurant within a destination racecourse in a destination city. Hows that for a treble accumulator?