“It’s as if it’s been passed through a borrower’s sieve” described Laura, as she tucked into her spring pea veloute while sitting opposite me at Chapter One last month.
Whether or not a borrower’s sieve had actually been used, it was as smooth and delicate as any other, and tasted a bit like an early morning walk through a Beatrix Potter novel.
We weren’t walking anywhere though. Cocktails aren’t usually found in children’s literature. But they are at Chapter One’s newly-refurbished brasserie, alongside its casual menu no doubt hoping to attract informal summer diners mooching around London’s Kentish periphery.
On it you find things like grilled butternut squash, mixed seeds, and pomegranate molasses – a nice contrast of sweetness and bitter flavours.
It was good enough to forget to note the decor of the place, which was half the point. Still, Laura remembered and appreciated it far more than I did – apparently there’s a “clever use of contrasting tones” and other nice touches, which I neither understood nor cared for. I’m sure it’s nice.
What I did enjoy was the relaxed tone of the place, unassuming as it should be. Easier going asides are regularly attempted, yet prices often creep up and fussiness arrives – things that prevent normal people from having a slightly more exciting lunch. Here though you could pop in and eat for about £15. And although that’d be fairly restricted, it’s possible – and isn’t much more over the price of a Nando’s, for example.
I like Nando’s, it’s got chicken and I like chicken. I also like ‘baby chicken’, which came spatchcock on top of some sturdy green beans, with a skin all crispy and caramelised, and topped with lemon.
We also tried salmon with crushed potatoes and capers. It lacked a bit of punch, but was buttery, pleasant, everything you’d hope for while visiting a rural French village perhaps and stumbling upon a little place with an awning and patio.
Obviously we also had some wine, where prices told a little more of the extravagence, and then shared a banoffee sundae with the clever trick of freezing banana to make an instant sorbet. Too sweet for me though.
Although it was only one dish that sparked musings of childhood classics, it's nice there's a place that doesn't destroy bank balances, without serving frozen lasagne, close by.