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Restaurant review - 1699 Bar & Brasserie, The Townhouse, Chester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 December 2018

The 1699 brasserie at the Townhouse, Chester, city centre (c) Ginger Pixie Photography

The 1699 brasserie at the Townhouse, Chester, city centre (c) Ginger Pixie Photography

Ginger Pixie Photography

Chester’s restaurant boom continues, and a stylish recent addition to the dining scene is the 1699 Bar & Brasserie at The Townhouse hotel.

Chicken breast, potato fondant, English asparagus, buttered spinach (c) Ginger Pixie PhotographyChicken breast, potato fondant, English asparagus, buttered spinach (c) Ginger Pixie Photography

Crème brûlée always makes me happy. So it’s a mathematical fact that three crème brûlées must make me three times as happy.

Yes, three little scorch-topped ramekins of sugary, creamy, custardy goodness - vanilla, chocolate and strawberry - arrayed on a slate: that was my dessert at the 1699 Bar & Brasserie. And very nice it was too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The 1699 Brasserie joined the busy throng of Chester’s restaurant scene earlier this year, as part of the transformation of The Townhouse hotel - formerly The Chester Townhouse - which is now part of Liverpool-based The Know Group.

Being housed in a rather lovely grade II-listed Georgian building means it’s a venue which doesn’t need to try too hard to make a good impression. Through the doors and into the bar, there’s an elegance about the room, period-style details such as the chandelier, counterpointed by more 21st century touches such as the wood flooring and trendy but classy blue velvet sofas. Beyond the main dining room, a door leads to a ‘secret garden’ - decking and pot plants and a lovely place to sit and sip in kinder weather than we had when we visited.

Pan-fried fillet of seabass with crushed new potatoes, tenderstem broccoli and salsa verde (c) Ginger Pixie PhotographyPan-fried fillet of seabass with crushed new potatoes, tenderstem broccoli and salsa verde (c) Ginger Pixie Photography

The restaurant is a place to which they hope not just evening diners but also footsore shoppers will repair, hence the £18.95 three-course lunch and early dinner menu (£15.95 for just two courses) - usually available 12.30pm to 6.00pm - will be offered until 9pm in the retail scrum leading up to Chistmas.

Like the brasserie’s main menu, it’s an elegantly concise list. A starter of goats’ cheese and honey bon bons was beautifully done - a crunch and sweetness to the dark quinoa base, just the right honey tinge to the bon bons and well presented with slivers of beetroot. Our other starter was a wholesome leek and potato soup.

A main of smoked bacon carbonara was a really rich and creamy sauce, packed with smoky bacon and scattered with a fistful of melting parmesan. Across the table, the wild mushroom gnocchi was another winner - spongy little dumplings in an enticing mix of various interesting-looking fungi, peas, asparagus and wilted spinach, all anointed with delicately herbed oil and topped with shavings of parmesan.

As mentioned above, crème brûlée to the power of three was one pud of choice, the other being a banoffee cheesecake with sugar-glazed banana.

Chocolate and orange pannacotta with vanilla sable (c) Ginger Pixie PhotographyChocolate and orange pannacotta with vanilla sable (c) Ginger Pixie Photography

Executive chef Jamie Leon and head chef Carl Powell have come up with a menu which is short and sweet.

1699 Bar & Brasserie is at The Townhouse, 49-51 Lower Bridge Street, Chester, CH1 1RS.
Tel 01244 567300, chestertownhouse.com

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