“ Farnborough Common, Locksbottom, Kent BR6 8NF. Tel: 01689 854848 „
Chapter One in Locksbottom is a well established 1 michelin starred restaurant that is head and shoulders above any of the establishments within reasonable distance. It also holds 4 (count them!) AA rosettes.
Chapter One is part of the Chapter Group, The group was founded in 1996 with Chapter One, located in Locksbottom, which has the following goal: "to provide excellent food, excellent service and outstanding value in distinctly stylish, comfortable and relaxed surroundings."
Chapter One was such a success that 2 years later the group opened Chapter Two (see what they did there...2 years later...chapter one, two...genius!), in Blackheath, however this has now been re-branded as 'Chapters All Day Dining', and offers a more casual style of dining. Later in 2005, the Chapter group started Chapters Events, which offer high end catering for functions and outdoor events.
In this review I will be covering just the Chapter One restaurant, as I have yet to sample the other offerings.
I think this is one of the key things about this place that makes it such an all rounded winner, Just outside Bromley and within easy reach of all the commuters homes, as well as the locals, Chapter One is a doddle to find as it lies at a junction between Bromley and Orpington. It is set back from the road and has a car park available which holds around 30ish cars, there is also the nice drive up entrance that I always use when going as I get a taxi, so that I can have a good drink there (more on the drinks later), which makes me feel like a V.I.P. (sad but true)
The restaurant is housed in what I can only assume is a mock tudor building, however its appearance is very polished and exudes charm and sophistication. Inside is another world, as the Alabaster and volcanic rock bar stand alone amongst chocolate and reds, with immaculately kept tables. Once inside Chapter one, you will feel isolated from the outside world, and the road noise simply evaporates as the heavy double glass doors close behind you. The setting and ambiance of the whole place is peaceful and calm, with very low level music playing throughout.
***The Staff, and Service ***
Every single member of staff in the Restaurant are friendly, approachable, knowledgable, and polite; Nothing seems too much trouble, and they are extremely attentive, making sure your glass is always topped up etc, but without being imposing or interfering. The level of service here is definately on par with anything you will experience at the likes of Pied a Terre, or Sketch, and that is saying something. The reservation team will always call you prior to your booking, to ensure all of the details are correct and to find out if there are any requirements that you have. Something that I really like here is that you never feel like you don't belong, and there is not even a sniff of pompous, or arrogant staff that you can sometimes find at other michelin starred restaurants, which is something i feel again, makes Chapter One stand out.
Chapter One has a full service bar, with everything from bottled beers (no draught) to cocktails (which are great) via a large wine cellar housing everything from £16.50 house wines, through to £000's chapagne magnums. I have never had a bad bottle of wine here, which again is a good sign that they take care when stocking the cellar, as a few high end restaurants will put some slightly ropey wines on the list, and push to sell the more expensive ones.
***The Food ***
If I left it at one word it would be: Divine. I will however go into a little more detail. The menu changes seasonally, and is prepared by head chef Andrew McLeish, who has a real talent for flavour combinations, as well as a great eye for presentation. The last visit I made, was about 2 months ago and the starter was leek and potato veloute, with a poached hens egg, which is served just as an egg in a soup dish, and the waiter pours over the veloute from a copper pot. To say the Veloute was smooth would be like saying Dom Perignon is sparkling wine, and the poached egg was cooked to perfection, even the appearance was perfect.
For main I opted for the special, which was a USDA Rib Eye, with truffle infused mashed potato. The steak as well as being huge, was cooked with precision to medium rare, and absoloutely full of flavour, as well as being melt in the mouth tender.
Desserts are again, an inspiration, and soo tempting. It feels quite bad that you have to eat most of them as they look like art on a plate!
Take a look at the menus online at http://www.chaptersrestaurants.com/files/chapter_one_sample_dinner_menu.pdf
As i say they do change seasonally and are sourced locally where possible.
For the level of service, and the skill and ingredients that go into all that chapter one does, I would have expected to pay easily over £100, however the menu is offerd at a fixed price of £32 per head (this can be broken down to £7.50 starter, £17 Mains, and £7.50 for desserts if you don't want three courses) during the week including saturdays, and £24.95 on sundays. obviously wine and drinks are extra, but as you have probably guessed, they are very reasonable. the only exception to this set priced menu is that certain dishes do attract supplements of around £4-5. (the USDA steak was an extra £12, but more than worth that)
Also if you book via toptable.co.uk you can generally get £24.95 on most days. At this price, Chapter One is Fantastic value for money and I promise you will not get a better overall experience in any other michelin starred restaurant in London.
All of the details can be found at Chapter One's website:
As well as the menu's and directions. Booking can be done via the site, or as I mentioned, at www.toptable.co.uk, however i have found that even if there isn't availability on toptable, you might still get one on their own site.