How Now, Brown Cow? The Brown Cow at Ackworth is under new management.

This article first appeared in the October 2015 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

When TopicUK editor Gill asked me to find somewhere outside Wakefield for my next review, I sought advice from friends at Pontefract Civic Society and the Brown Cow at Ackworth was high on the list of the recommendations I received back. I was vaguely familiar with the establishment having visited the place a number of times in my younger days, but it’s been a very long time since I was last there (a very, very long time, in fact), so a return visit was long overdue and I booked a table for lunch.

The pub sits on a prominent, slightly raised, position on the Pontefract Road in the heart of the village. As you drive through Ackworth from the Wakefield direction, it is impossible to miss, being right on a bend in the road so it’s directly ahead of you as you drive towards it. Pull in just after the pub to access the ample car park at the rear of the building.

The Brown Cow is now under new management with a bright and friendly young team having taken over just a few months ago. Business partners Adam Wrightson, Kirsty Gillies, Dean Conway and Julie Gillies have been managing the pub since June this year. They already have experience in the licensed trade as they have been running The Angel pub, also at Ackworth, for the last eighteen months. They now split their time between the two pubs with Kirsty and Adam living in at The Brown Cow while Dean and Julie concentrate more on The Angel.

On the day of my visit, it was barman Hedley Conway welcomed me with a big smile – he knew I was coming to do the review and seeing the copy of TopicUK I was carrying was enough to cause the penny to drop. When I telephoned the pub ahead of my visit to book my table, I had explained that my dining companion and I were vegetarians so it was a pleasure to be told that the chef had created a vegetarian special for us to sample – a Provençale Vegetable Stew with Grilled Goats’ Cheese served with an Asparagus and Carrot Salad enlivened with homemade French mustard and vinaigrette. The pub caters well for vegetarians and there are always options available, including vegetarian specials. They can also cater for other special diets on request as food is cooked to order.

We chose a table by the window, drinks were ordered and shortly afterwards, the food was served. It looked good enough to eat and it was! Beautifully prepared and cooked to perfection, there was enough to satisfy the hunger pangs without over-facing us, which was important as we had to leave room for dessert. I settled for the old school dinners favourite of apple crumble and custard while my companion had the sticky toffee pudding, which also came with custard. Nice comfort food but not too heavy. Rounding off the lunch with coffee and mint chocolates, we relaxed and observed the comings and goings of the other customers.

Adam and Hedley were certainly kept busy as a number of people had followed us. Two chaps in the corner having what looked like a business lunch – all mobile phones and notebooks between courses, and a number of ladies were lunching, as well as what looked like a family group. Meanwhile, over at the bar, some locals had arrived for a pint (or possibly two – I wasn’t counting, honest!). Given its location in a village setting, The Brown Cow is of course something of a focal point for local residents and it was good to see the new enterprise being so well supported, even though one or two were clearly surprised and intrigued when I went through my usual routine of taking photographs of my lunch from every angle before tucking in.

The new management are keen to ring some changes; with chef Callum Gillies (yes, as you might have gathered, this is something of a family business), new dishes are being introduced and the menu given a more cosmopolitan feel, pub grub with a twist, you might say, but traditional favourites are there as well and it was notable that a number of the other customers had selected fish and chips for their lunch. If you fancy something off the specials board, you could try the Roasted Belly Pork on a Bed of Grain Mustard Mash and Savoy Cabbage served with Seasonal Vegetables which comes in at a very reasonable £9.95. Or how about Venison Steak served medium rare and accompanied by Creamy Mash, Sweet Onion Gravy and Seasonal Vegetables for £12.50? If that doesn’t tempt you, why not try something off the Tapas board where prices run from £2.50 to £4.50.

After my meal, I spoke to Kirsty and Adam. Since moving in, they have been giving some thought to what they can do with the place and have been discussing some refurbishment options with the owners, Enterprise Inns. These will be introduced slowly; at the moment, Kirsty and Adam need to consolidate their position and secure a good reputation for the quality of their food, drink and service with the local community as well as with the passing trade. As well as making changes to the menu, they are also introducing new beers – they were very proud of their bar which looked rather empty when they took over but now has three hand-pulled beers, three lagers, two ciders plus a bitter and, of course, Guiness which is on a ‘surger’ (a device that uses sound waves to produce the familiar creamy head on when Guiness is poured from a can; who knew?). Their favourite is the Black Sheep bitter although they do have a Yorkshire Blonde on the bar as well. They are also looking to improve the range of wines they offer.

With my interest in history, I had to ask about the pub’s back story. Over the bar there is an old black and white photograph of how the pub used to look. It was originally three cottages knocked through to create a pub. At some point, it was rebuilt as the building that exists today when it was originally run as a hotel. Although I didn’t take a look myself, Kirsty told me that the building was very spacious upstairs having five guest bedrooms and a function room. However, there are no plans at present to re-open these to the public as the upstairs is currently Kirsty and Adam’s private living. They are quite keen to learn more about the history of the pub, however, and are working with Ackworth Heritage Group to discover more about the building’s past: Ackworth is itself an interesting and historic place to explore with lots of attractive old buildings, so a post-prandial stroll could prove worthwhile. By the way, I was told that the name Brown Cow comes from a cow of that colour kept by the monks at nearby St Cuthbert’s Church and who always had very good relations with the pub……..I think that might be a story for another day.

We enjoyed our visit to The Brown Cow; the food was good and the hospitality genial. The new team deserves to do well. Why not make a date to see for yourself?

The Brown Cow on FacebookThe Brown Cow on Facebook

Pontefract Road, Ackworth, Pontefract, WF7 7EL

Valentino’s Ristorante Italiano, Outwood – A little bit of Italy in the afternoon

This article first appeared in the February 2015 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

It was rather cold when my partner and I called into Valetino’s for lunch one Friday in the middle of January – in fact, so cold that there snow on the ground! So it was lovely to step inside and be met with a warm welcome from manager Sigita Pikturnaite. We’d only been to the restaurant once before, and that was on an evening when we had eaten a very good meal, so we were looking forward to seeing how it all came together at lunchtime.

For those of you who have not yet tried Valentino’s, the first surprise is just how deceptively large it is inside! The eye is immediately drawn to the large mural of the unmistakable Florentine skyline and its magnificent duomo. This mural completely covers the wall at the far end of the room and it was next to this that Sigita had reserved a table for my dining companion and me. Despite the cold weather, a number of people had ventured out to enjoy the lunchtime experience and it was nice to see this local restaurant being well supported.

Many of you will probably be familiar with this well-established restaurant, either because you’ve already eaten there or because you’ve passed it as you travel along the A61 Leeds Road between Outwood and Lofthouse. Opened some sixteen years ago by owners Afy Butt and Shahid Tarer, who wanted to provide locally-sourced food at affordable prices, the restaurant offers a comfortable environment in which to enjoy beautifully prepared food. The interior décor and furnishings certainly capture the look and feel of a typical Italian-style restaurant. To the left as you enter, there’s a well-stocked bar and seating area where people can relax and order a drink while they are waiting for their table at busy periods, and then, to the right is a spacious dining area with tables configurable for intimate dining à deux or for family and party groups.

Lunchtime opening is a relatively new facility in Valentino’s history, having been introduced only a couple of years ago. It is open Tuesday to Friday lunchtimes from 12 noon until 3 pm (last orders at 2.45 pm) and then re-opens at 5 pm until 10.00 pm for the evening service. At weekends, Valentino’s is open all afternoon from noon onwards ‘until late’. On Mondays, the restaurant is closed all day except for bank holidays when it is open as for weekends.

There are two main menus – a full à la carte menu which is available any time and a shorter lunchtime menu made up of lighter meals. Dishes on the lunchtime menu are very reasonably priced with starters costing around £3 to £4 and main courses from £4.95 to just over £8 with a selection of vegetables and salads available as side orders. Prices on the à la carte menu are a little higher, but with more generous portion size, but it’s still possible to have a three-course à la carte meal for around £20. You can, of course, choose courses from both menus if you wish. A children’s menu is also available. As you would expect, there is an extensive selection of wines and beers to choose from with bottles of wine starting at £13.95.

Not forgetting that we were there to sample the food, my partner and I agreed to try out both menus between us – my partner testing the lunch menu while I focused on the à la carte. I began with Warm Goats Cheese. This consisted of a flat cap mushroom topped with goats’ cheese and served with cherry tomatoes and basil dressing, one of my favourite dishes, and it was very good. My partner went for the simpler but no less appetising Insalata Caprese, a traditional dish of mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and basil. To follow this, I plumped for the Porcini Ravioli while my partner had the Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli. Yes, you’ll notice we both had ravioli, but the dishes were very different as you might expect – my ravioli, from the à la carte menu was priced at £10.95, while my partner’s, ordered from the lunchtime menu, was just £5.65. There was no difference in quality but there was a difference in portion size and ingredients. However, we both professed ourselves very satisfied with our choices.
Actually, I had a wobbly moment just before my plate arrived! Making notes for this review, I spotted that, as well as a small ‘V’, there was also a small ‘H’ against my Porcini Ravioli on the menu. This apparently indicated that the dish would be hot and spicy – and I’m not keen on either hot or spicy! I went back and read the menu again and realised I should have paid more attention – the full description showed that I had just ordered “Pasta filled with porcini mushrooms with a creama truffle sauce – and chilli flakes”. In the end, I decided to stick with what I’d asked for and I’m pleased I did. Yes, I could taste the chilli, but it wasn’t so hot to be appreciable. I suppose that, had I wanted something truly hot and spicy, I could have been a tad disappointed so it might be worth discussing just how hot – or not – you want your pasta when you place your order.

To conclude our meal, we were tempted by the dessert menu (there’s one dessert menu, whichever menu you are eating your main courses from) with me choosing the Homemade Tiramisu and my partner the Crème Brûlée. Again, we both really enjoyed our choices. The Crème Brûlée was light and creamy, while the Tiramisu was rich and smooth. We rounded off with coffee, both in full agreement that the meal had been delicious.

Now, for those of you who like a bit of meat with your meal, both menus do, of course, offer a good range of meat and fish dishes, with the à la carte menu in particular providing a good selection of beef steaks as well as chicken dishes. The beef, we were told, is sourced from carefully selected farmers in the Yorkshire Dales, the Yorkshire Wolds, and The Vale of York, while the chicken comes from Harome, near Helmsley.

After our meal, I chatted to manager Sigita, who hails originally from Lithuania but has now been in the UK for ten years. With co-manager Lewis Jeffels, Sigita and her team want to provide a relaxed, welcoming environment for their customers and lunch can either be a leisurely affair or served a bit more quickly if you have to get back to work afterwards. Just make sure you tell the staff if you are short of time.

Sigita told me that the restaurant employs around 20 staff. While it is usually busiest in the evening, the decision to open at lunchtime was an obvious move for the owners; staff were working in the restaurant during the day anyway, prepping for the evening service, and they had the capacity to serve meals at lunchtime, taking advantage of the passing trade as well as providing somewhere to eat for the many local residents. Although about two and a half miles outside Wakefield city centre, the restaurant is easy to reach by car and public transport and there is ample free parking in front of the building.

If you’ve not tried Valentino’s yet, do give it a go – you’ll not be disappointed.

699 Leeds Road, Lofthouse Gate, Wakefield, WF3 3HJ

Mixing things up in Northgate: Olive and Meze adds a distinctive Turkish flourish to Wakefield’s culinary offer

This article first appeared in the June 2015 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

So, you’re in the restaurant business and you’re looking to open a new restaurant. You cast around and find the premises you’re looking for and they are in Wakefield. You make an approach to the landlord, sign a deal and get the keys. The place needs a few decorative touches and a bit of a tidy up, which you set about doing. Then, you open for business……

Just a few weeks later, nearly 20 members of Wakefield Civic Society’s Dining Club decide to pay you a visit. They do at least tell you in advance that they are coming; they even email their orders through to you a day or so beforehand; but you know they will be a demanding and discerning group, well used to putting a restaurant through its paces. And to top it all, at the end of their meal, they will score you on how well you did!

That’s a challenge that might just give you pause for thought but it does explain how I came to be dining at Wakefield’s newest addition to the ever expanding range of restaurants in and around the city. (As President of Wakefield Civic Society, I see it as my duty to participate in the activities of the Society’s Dining Club and it’s a duty I take seriously. The club has been going for over five years now, visiting nearly 60 different establishments, and I think I’ve only missed a couple or so of the monthly outings).

Regular readers of TopicUK may remember that I reviewed Grill! Primal Kitchen (Grill! PK, previously known as Grill! at 31) in February 2014. Sadly, the restaurant later closed and the premises at 31 Northgate stood empty for a while. However, they have now re-opened under new management with a fresh new look and name to match. Olive and Meze bills itself as a “Turkish Grill and Cyprus Mezes” restaurant and is now starting to get noticed by the people of Wakefield.

The restaurant itself has a small frontage onto Northgate but it stretches back inside to provide room for 30 customers. The kitchen and bar area, tucked away at the far end of the restaurant are compact, so proprietor Zafer Firinci and his staff Heddy and Nik have to be well organised and fairly nifty to work around each other.

As the name suggests, the restaurant offers a selection of home-made dishes representing Turkish and Cypriot cuisine. The menu offers a mix of cold and hot starters, very reasonably priced between £3.90 and £6.95 although there are meze dishes (a selection of starters) priced at £12.60 for the cold selection and £14.50 for the hot dishes but these are intended to be shared between two people. Main courses start at as little as £8 and work up to £15.50 (for Sirloin Steak or King Prawns). Again, there is a sharing dish – a mixed grill described on the menu as “a sumptuous platter of barbecued Lamb Shish, Adana, Chicken Shish and Pirzola, served with rice, salad, dip sauce and home-made bread”. This costs £24.90 but, remember, this is intended for two people.

There is a limited choice of desserts – Baklava, ice cream and chocolate cake being on offer at the time of our visit, again very reasonably priced at £3.50 each. If you opt for the set three-course meal at £22 per person (a minimum of two people required as it comprises of meze dishes for starters and main courses), the Baklava is included. A lighter lunch menu is available from Monday to Saturday. One piece of advice: from Sunday to Thursday, the restaurant offers two courses for £13.50. However, it is possible to select two courses whose prices total less than £13.50.

What was it like, I hear you asking? Well, on the whole it proved to be a rather enjoyable evening. The staff are lovely, very friendly, helpful and willing to please and the camaraderie of the Dining Club members always adds a certain something to the experience wherever we go. Dining in a large group can, of course, bring its own kind of chaos: even when people have ordered meals in advance, there’s always one or two who forget what they’ve ordered, but Heddy and Nik kept their cool and made sure everyone ended up with the meal of their choice, even if it didn’t quite start that way. A couple who had ordered the set meal were rather surprised by the apparent over-generous quantity of food served up as their meze starters – until it was realised that they’d been given two plates of meze rather than just one between two, the second plate being intended for another duo at the opposite end of the table who’d been a bit slow to put their hands up when their meal was called out by one of the waiters! However, the quantity was still generous and, by all accounts, the quality was good.

I opted for the Aubergine Salad as my starter: oven-roasted peppers and aubergines with spring onion and olive oil dressing. It was light and very fresh – but those onions were very hot! To follow, I had the vegetarian pide. This is rather like a pizza but, in this case, topped with fresh Mediterranean vegetables, feta, halloumi and mozzarella cheeses and served with salad. For dessert, I opted for the strawberry ice cream. Total cost of the three courses, excluding drinks, was just £15.50 – a real bargain and the quality of the food could not be faulted.

The general consensus seemed to be positive enough. Will Olive and Meze win the accolade of the Dining Club’s Restaurant of the Year for 2015 when all the votes are counted? Well, that’s too early to say just now: we’re not yet half way through the year and it will be next April before we reveal the winner.

After the meal, I chatted to the proprietor Zafer. He told me he had been in the restaurant business for 25 years, first in Turkey and then in the UK. His last restaurant, Tom, Dick and Harry’s, was at Thorpe Arch near Wetherby but he told me that he wanted to move to a city centre where people would find access easier than being out on a trading estate. He took over the lease from Grill! PK and decided to redecorate to provide a much lighter and more airy feel. This is still a work in progress; there was some evidence of the old Grill! branding on display but I suspect that will be removed in due course.

Opening a new restaurant is a brave move, especially with so much competition, but as Wakefield’s only Turkish restaurant, Olive and Meze is definitely worth a try and, as a new venture, it would be nice to see it build up a loyal following. If you’re looking for somewhere new to try, do pay Olive and Meze a visit.

31 Northgate, Wakefield, WF1 3BJ

A big Witamy! welcome from Duchniak’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant

This article first appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of the Wakefield magazine TopicUK. Please check the restaurant’s website for updated details of menus, prices, opening hours, etc.

One of the joys of writing this column is that I get to eat some delicious foods, skilfully prepared and served up by some very talented and enthusiastic people. I also get to sample foods from around the world without having to carry my passport. Yes, I’ve said it before: you really can have the world on a plate here in Wakefield with Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Kashmiri, French, Japanese and, yes, traditional British foods all readily available.

One of the more recent additions to this multinational offering is Duchniak’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant, bringing a taste of genuine Polish cuisine to our increasingly cosmopolitan city. Situated a little out of the way at the bottom end of Lower Kirkgate, and not far from Kirkgate Station, the restaurant opened just over a year ago: a cosy café by day and an intimate restaurant in the evening.

Whether you just want a cup of coffee with a slice of cake, perhaps to break your walk between the Hepworth gallery and the city centre, or to make a meal of it and go for the full restaurant experience, proprietor Aneta Duchniak and her team will be delighted to serve you. That team consists of ‘three Polish ladies’ who do the cooking and Julija, from Lithuania, who does the ‘front of house’ with Aneta.

Aneta has previous experience of the restaurant trade – she worked at Sloanes in Wakefield and the King’s Croft Hotel in Pontefract, but this is the first time she has set up on her own. She told me that we have her brother Adrian to thank for the restaurant being here – he had spotted that there was no Polish restaurant in the area, although there is a resident Polish community. However, although Polish families are supporting the restaurant, most of the customers are British people looking to try Polish food or re-live memories of visits to Poland. Some of the customers have travelled from well outside Wakefield – from Leeds, Bradford and York, for example, as they had heard about the restaurant and wanted to give it a try. It’s certainly scoring well on-line – look at the customer reviews on TripAdvisor and you’ll see people really do love Duchniak’s. We have a lot to thank Adrian for, it seems!
At first glance, the restaurant might look small but with a number of booths that seat four people, standard tables and even a small yard outside round the back, it is deceptively accommodating and, on an evening with the lights lit, it’s a beacon of calm away from the rush and roar of the Kirkgate traffic.

Having eaten there a couple of times now, I can see why people are so positive about the restaurant. The food is freshly prepared to order from a fairly simple menu (printed in English but with Polish translations!), supplemented by a daily specials board; and it’s incredibly good value with starters priced at £3.50 or £3.95 and mains from under £6 up to £11.95.

I spotted some foods on the menu that caused me to raise a quizzical eyebrow – could dumplings (Pierogi) really be Polish? Well, yes they could: the word might look familiar, but these were dumplings served Polish style – semi-circular parcels stuffed with potato and cottage cheese, or cabbage and mushrooms or meat. Or how about pancakes (Nalesniki), filled with mushrooms and cheese and served with a garlic sauce (very much enjoyed by one of my party)? As Aneta pointed out, Polish cuisine has absorbed influences from many of the neighbouring countries so it has an international feel all of its own.

One thing I particularly liked was that there was a generous selection of vegetarian dishes (always a point winner in my book), as well as salmon, chicken and pork options. There’s also a crispy beef meatloaf with lemon and mustard sauce available. For my starter, I opted for breaded Camembert served with a sweet blackcurrant sauce and a salad garnish. One of my favourite dishes, it proved a good choice and did not disappoint. My companions opted for mushrooms stuffed with mince (or onions) with cheese on top. Soups are also available – fresh velvet tomato served with pasta, sour rye with white sausage and egg served with bread, and beetroot soup served with meat ravioli.

Between us, our main courses were peppers stuffed with rice and cheese (for me), chicken fillet coated with breadcrumbs, and the pancakes mentioned above – all served with a selection of salads (including grated carrots, cabbage and sauerkraut, all simple but light and very more-ish – I couldn’t resist the carrots which had been sprinkled with apple and lemon juice to give them a lovely sweetness which served to enhance the savoury flavours of the main dishes).

Puddings – well, somebody has to – were Raffaelo Cake for me – a light sponge with cream and almonds; apple crumble with ice cream; and apple pancakes. All accompanied by coffee, they were the perfect end to the meal – except they turned out not to be the end. Aneta presented us each with a shot of fruit-flavoured vodka as a brace against the chill night air. Na Zdrowie! (As they say in Poland – or Cheers! if you prefer).

Yes, what I haven’t mentioned so far is that Duchniak’s is fully licensed and serves a selection of Polish beers (by the bottle), Italian wines and Polish vodkas, both clear and flavoured varieties. Of course, there is a range of non-alcoholic drinks as well.
Now, as I mentioned, the restaurant is at the bottom end of Lower Kirkgate, so it’s a short walk from the city centre itself. However, it’s well worth the effort. If you do travel there by car, there is a pay and display car park nearby but there’s plenty of on-street parking available to the rear and side of the restaurant which is free after 6 pm.

I asked what Aneta liked about Wakefield. She told me she loved the fact that the city was not too big and that it was easy to walk around. She likes the Cathedral area but she’s also very fond of Pugneys and, as well as walking around the lake, she’s also been known to take a kayak out onto the water. But she also likes the people – she says that Wakefield people are so very friendly (and I wouldn’t disagree!).

Perhaps it’s time that the people of Wakefield took Aneta and her staff to heart – do go and discover this lovely little restaurant for yourself.

Duchniak’s on Facebook

Unit 1, 212-214 Kirkgate, Wakefield, WF1 1UF

Getting Convivial in Chester

I visited this restaurant in October 2014. Please check their website for the latest menus, prices and opening hours.

You know how it is: you find yourself in an unfamiliar place and want something to eat – but where to go? You haven’t really had time to do any research and have to be guided by your senses and intuition – all mixed in with a high degree of good luck.

I recently found myself in such a situation in Chester, a place I have visited only occasionally so it’s a place with which I can’t claim to be very familiar – my loss, I’m sure. I’d been asked to give a talk at the Grosvenor Museum to members of the local civic society, starting at 7.30 pm. As a result of delays on the motorway, my arrival in Chester was a good deal later than planned – in fact, I arrived at my hotel near to Chester Race Course at around 6.40 pm – just in time for a quick change and to hotfoot it over to the museum to set things up for the talk.

On the way into the Museum, I noticed what looked to be a well-supported Italian restaurant in the rather attractive old building next door. I made a mental note to explore it as a suitable place to eat afterwards.

The talk went well and, in conversation with some of the civic society members afterwards, the restaurant next door was given favourable reviews, so I determined to give it a try. That was how, on a chilly October evening I came to be seated with my partner at a table for two in Convivio Bar and Restaurant, 29 Grosvenor Street, Chester.

It was something like 9.30 when we walked in to the restaurant by which time the customers had thinned out somewhat – it was mid-week but perhaps people in Chester like to eat early? However, this meant we had a good choice of tables to pick from. Proprietor Giovanni Caggianelli greeted us warmly and showed us to a table by the window. Menus were presented and orders taken. Our waiter, James, brought us our wine, a very pleasant bottle of red, and just the thing after over an hour of talking and taking questions. Had we had a win at the races, I might have been tempted to work my way around the wine list – although it would have had to have been a big win to pay £1,000 for the top-priced offering, even if it was a magnum!

While we waited for our food to be prepared, I had a chance to look around the restaurant. The building, which is grade II* listed, was built originally for the Chester Savings Bank and, like many banking halls, built to impress. Although we didn’t venture upstairs, there is a large bar area upstairs – Grosvenor 29. Downstairs, the décor and furnishings are classically understated and elegant with artworks and images of Italy displayed on the walls. If so minded, you can watch your meal being prepared as the kitchen runs almost one length of the room.

To start with, we both had the Insalata Caprese, as salad of tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella and a traditional favourite of mine that always appeals. This was followed by Tortellini ai 4 Formaggio although we went off piste by asking for it to be served with a tomato sauce rather than the cheese sauce listed on the menu. We concluded the meal with Italian styled desserts and coffee.
Now, I mentioned that picking a good restaurant to try when you’re in an unfamiliar place can depend very much on the luck of the draw. Well luck was definitely on our side. The whole experience right from entering the restaurant until the moment we left was very enjoyable. The ambience was relaxing, the food beautifully cooked and the service discreet, unhurried but attentive. We had plenty of time after the meal for chat with James who gave us some background information about the restaurant – it was very clear that he enjoyed working there.

Well, at the end of the evening, you have to pay the bill. This came to a little under £80 for the two of us; not bad for a meal of this quality in such pleasant surroundings.

I’m not sure when I’ll find myself in Chester next but should I make a return visit, I’ll not need to do any research to find somewhere to eat – Convivio will be at the top of my list! If you’d like to check them out, have a look at their website for special events, including Opera Nights, and give them a try. As the restaurant can get very busy, booking in advance is recommended.
29 Grosvenor Street, Chester, CH1 2DD