Nobu, The Wolseley and The Ivy – the Big Smoke has its fair share of ‘sleb hangouts where you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot a discretely dining A-lister or a clutch of Z-listers scrabbling for paparazzi attention.
With recent visits from Rebecca Adlington, Joe Calzaghe, Lip from Shameless and Ronan Keating, the newly opened Chapel on Churchill Way, is perhaps Cardiff’s safest bet for anyone wanting a napkin signed by a former reality TV show contestant.
You can understand why Chapel is a contender for Cardiff's hottest place to see and be seen - the no expense spared renovation, marrying original features and contemporary additions, has yielded Cardiff’s grandest dining space.
Chapel serves two different menus– the bar menu (served downstairs) and the upstairs restaurant menu. Clad in wellington boots on the icy Saturday lunch we visited, we opted for the less elaborate bar option.
As far as starters go, Chapel’s Gloucester Old Spot scotch egg (£4) is a right bobby dazzler. In fact, any restaurant which can cook a proper scotch egg pretty much gains my instant seal of approval. Crisp bread crumbs, warm herby sausage meat and an oozing yolk made for the bar snack of the Gods. A little pot of piccalilli was good but surplus to requirements.
Mrs G’s ever-present chicken liver parfait (£6.50) almost ticked all the right boxes. The toasted brioche, smoky tomato chutney and flavour of the creamy parfait were all bob on. Unfortunately, the parfait was fridge solid – perhaps this is almost excusable as we arrived at the beginning of lunch service.
For main, Mrs G ordered a well executed Roquefort, chicory, walnut and pear salad (£6). Crisp, lightly-dressed leaves, punchy cheese, sweet fruit and crisp nuts combined well in this classic combination of flavours.
I ordered the Chapel burger with Gruyere cheese, Chapel slaw and Chapel chips – perhaps they haven’t managed to source Chapel cheese yet?
1. How was the patty? Served medium-well done, the juicy patty was enjoyably meaty tasting. Its cannon ball-like dimensions and juiciness made it the messiest burger I’ve eaten in Cardiff so far.
2. How was the bun? I’m normally dead against ciabatta buns with a burger. However, in this instance the dryness of the ciabatta held together well against the extreme juiciness of the patty.
3. How was the other stuff in the bun? Melted gruyere added creaminess but didn’t overwhelm. Lettuce and a slice of tomato completed the picture. Pots of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup were also brought to the table.
4. How were the Chapel fries? Crisp, well-seasoned skin-on fries - no complaints.
5.How was the other stuff on the plate? Chapel slaw aka purple cabbage slaw was crisp and slightly acidic with the right amount mayo.
6. What was the price? £10
7. What’s the verdict? Chapel’s burger is rather good - its juiciness and simplicity are its major strengths.
Nothing really grabbed my attention on the brief dessert menu. In spite of this, I persevered…
My Merlyn cream liqueur crème brulee (£5) was good. Smooth, booze-charged custard with a delicate caramel crust was accompanied by a couple of buttery chocolate chip cookies. Saying that, I’d prefer a vanilla crème brulee any day of the week.
Mrs G’s flourless orange and almond cake (£6) was the real success story. Moist, pleasingly dense sponge was served with faintly tart redcurrants, cape gooseberries and strawberries soaked in a citrus and rosewater dressing. A dollop of Jersey crème fraiche completed this interesting dish.
We really enjoyed lunch at the Chapel. In fact, I’m looking forward to returning on an evening to sample the more elaborate a la carte menu and hopefully share the dining room with a former contestant of Celebrity Love Island.
Address - The Chapel Restaurant & Bar, Churchill Way, Cardiff, CF10 2WF
Web - http://chapel1877.com
Telephone - 029 20222020