While I’m writing this, I’m working away in London for the weekend, and subsequently my pangs for home are going through the roof. Home, in this case, being Chester. I’ve lived there for 9 years, and though that might be enough of a reason to call it home, the feeling I get when I’m walking around the city makes me sure that it feels like home now.
So many people ask me for recommendations of where to fill their bellies when they come and visit the little Roman city, so I thought this would be a good place to direct them to. Eat your heart out at these spots.
001. The Botanist
The Botanist is one of my favourite haunts for their deee-licious cocktails, comforting, homey food and brilliant live acoustic music. It’s somewhere that me and my best friend always choose for those long overdue catch-ups, because the atmosphere is always so relaxed but still has a little bit of a buzz about it, even on weeknights. Last weekend, I was invited to come and sample The Botanist’s new summer menu. Without hesitation, it was a big fat YES.
Sarah and I started with some cocktails, obvz – she went for the Strawberry & Cucumber Breeze and after HUGE deliberation I chose the Strawberry Daiquiri (I would also highly recommend the English 75, the Pear & Kiwi Crush and the Rose Sangria).
There are lots of tasty new additions to the menu, including the baked camembert, and the tiger prawn and avocado salad for starters, as well as the beef or seafood versions of their famous hanging kebabs. I also quickly spotted a couple of new additions to the dessert menu – the rocky road kebab, the baked chocolate chip cookie dough (DYING) and the elderflower jelly and red berry pavlova.
Sarah went for the seafood hanging kebab, and I chose a chargrilled chicken burger with extra avocado and of course, sweet potato fries for both of us to share. We demolished it all, and couldn’t resist a dessert each. The rocky road kebab sounded too good to pass up so I went for that, and Sarah got our favourite – the sticky toffee pudding.
If you’re after an evening dinner with a good atmosphere, and everything so tastefully done, The Botanist is your absolute best bet.
002. The Jaunty Goat
It’s named the best coffee shop in Chester, and it’s a well-earned title. The Jaunty Goat is officially my dad’s new favourite spot for a coffee and a chill out after Mum and I have bored him to tears with shopping talk, and it’s now my new favourite because their vanilla lattes are just too damn good. See if you can resist any of their incredible cakes on the top of the counter, too – I dare you.
If you’re not into cake (errr, who are ya?), their sandwiches can’t be beaten. Choose from 4 or 5 variations from the counter and they’ll toast them up for you. But the real emphasis here is on the coffee, which their hipster baristas take real pride in.
Mine and the boyf’s first choice when we want something really fancy – whether it’s a celebration or if we just want a really top notch Friday night date. Every family member or friend I’ve brought here has raved about it, so I know it’s not just me and Leon!
Upstairs At The Grill is owned by the same people as Bar Lounge and Hickory’s, so already you should know you’re in good company. The Grill, though, is definitely the most expensive and the best service we ever have anywhere – a real treat of a dinner. They specialise in steaks, and trust me when I say, this is going to be one of the best steaks you’ve ever had. Your waiter will show you the different cuts of meat and what they all mean on a big meat slab, and will talk you through the menu in as much or as little detail as you want. For the guys, your beer will come in a chilled glass, and the wine menu is just incredible. Call ahead as these guys get booked up quite quickly – and really no wonder!
Spanish tapas restaurant Porta sits just behind Joseph Benjamin and is also owned by JB too. The first time I went here was for a double date with my SO and our two friends. I had just come back from holiday and it was a gorgeous, warm night, so when we went for tapas at Porta I felt like I was still on holiday. The atmosphere is so relaxed and is clearly inspired by the small, independent tapas bars in cities like Barcelona and Paris.
First things first, you’ve got to get a jug of their sangria because it’s so delicious. On the food menu, I recommend – the Patatas Bravas, the Jamon Iberico, the chicken wings, the salami and their air-dried beef. I’m sure everything is super tasty, so go with a big group of people and sample a bit of everything!
005. The Architect
My go-to place for when mum and dad are up for the weekend, The Architect is another really homely place for a good dinner and relaxed atmosphere. It’s one of the Brunning & Price pubs, so you already know what you’re going to get, but I’ve found that The Architect is one of the best of the B&P pubs for the quality of their food and their menu options. Go on a warm day and you can enjoy the view of the whole racecourse while enjoying a glass of Pimms outside. It doesn’t really get much better than that!
Don’t you dare skip the belgian waffles right at the end either, because you do not want to miss them!