A-LIST celebrities Orlando Bloom and Cameron Diaz are fans of Chapters in Blackheath Village, so it stands to reason that those of us less disposed to high-end dining will also be impressed.
But then again, Prince Harry has been known to favour Nandos, so that argument doesn’t necessarily stack up.
Perhaps a better way to judge would be to look at its credentials, which include two AA rosettes.
Better still would be to give it a try, so that’s what we did.
Few would argue that Blackheath is south east London’s upmarket gem and tucked in amongst the brilliant independent shops and cafes, looming town houses and overlooking the heath is the perfect place to indulge or be treated.
Chapters makes the most of the location with floor-to-ceiling French windows looking out onto the green space.
Like the food it serves, the restaurant’s decor is understated, elegant and contemporary. There are dark olive tones and exposed brick, blackboards and a sweeping spiral staircase to a second floor downstairs.
From the moment we arrived we were looked after by staff who clearly appreciated that dining here needs to feel special.
The waiters were always available but never overbearing and cut a good line between the formality required for decadence and friendly humour for comfort.
When Laura ordered dessert, he said: “It will be 15 minutes...but it is well worth it.” The perfect balance of playfulness and professionalism.
If you are a local reader, you will doubtless already know about Chapter’s Michelin starred sister restaurant Chapter One in Bromley.
The Blackheath eatery’s head chef Alex Tyndall trained there for a number of years and the same dedication to quality.
All of the meat here is cooked on a specially-imported Josper Grill. Perhaps you are like me and are thinking ‘no idea what that is, bet it’s pretentious’.
Well, it’s a charcoal grill which reaches fearsome temperatures and means that no none of the natural moisture or flavour escapes.
And when you taste the results – it was as evident in our Crispy Pork Belly (£5.95) and Boneless Quail (£6.95) starters as it was in our mains – you won’t think for a second it was unnecessary or pretentious.
By and large, the menu is straight forward enough to be appealing to all but with intriguing little twists and well-sourced ingredients to make you salivate.
After a glass of champagne, I started with Crispy Fried Pork Belly with Crackling Mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and quail eggs (£5.95).
Exquisitely presented (as was everything we ate), the pork balls were crisp but not greasy on the outside yet moist and soft inside- and exploding flavour. Meanwhile, the quail eggs were boiled just right and the perfect accompaniment.
The meat of my main (Crispy Confit Leg of Duck, Honey Roasted Vegetables, Bok Choi and Red Wine Sauce, £14.95) had a crisp skin and again soft meat that fell apart.
Laura’s Roast Haunch of Chart Farm Venison, Pommery Mustard Mash, Sautéed Curly Kale and Red Wine Jus (£16.95) was rare with a deep irony flavour, while the mash was virtually a tangy cloud.
If you’re going to treat yourself – and for most of us, Chapters is very much in treat territory – you have to have pudding.
Just about everywhere does a chocolate fondant, but few are as good as Chapters’ oozy Valrhona Chocolate Fondant (£6.95) which is perfectly matched with sweet honeycomb, ice cream and blueberries.
I’m not sure of the protocol in Chapters, but I tried to at least make the scraping clean of my plate a little discreet.
Go to chaptersrestaurants.com
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