A he congratulations to many of our beloved local food and drink businesses who opened last weekend and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Having a super-tasty takeaway and a few drinky poos at home (better still in the garden) is nice enough, but most of us have been chomping at the food and drink bit to get back into our fabulous venues to enjoy ‘a few of our favourite things’ once again.
If this period has done little else positive, it has reminded us all, in spectacular style why we enjoy visiting the restaurants, bars, cafes and dining pubs that we love so much.
I have thought long and hard about my favourite venues, and what they mean to me – so check out the list of My Favourite Things at all those venues who will be reopening very soon, and let’s celebrate their quality, diversity and camaraderie together. For never shall we take them for granted ever again.
A few of my favourite things …
The Chester Fields Country Pub and Restaurant
To be honest, these guys never really went away as they were straight out of the blocks with their takeaway / delivery range ‘From Pub to Porch’ – and as good as that is (they’ll be continuing with that for a good while yet I hear), there are so many things about this awesome venue that can’t be replicated at home. Mark is a great host. He’s funny, warm, cheeky and charming and unless he was going to visit everyone at home who ordered a takeaway, then its just not the same as visiting his stunning venue and lapping it all up in person. And those views! It has the very best beer garden in Cheshire. My Favourite Thing about The Chester Fields is the quality. Everything is such great quality including the interior, the outside spaces, the food and drink (of course) and the service. It will always have a very special place in my heart.
Hickory’s Smokehouse Chester
BBQ is firmly back on the menu as everyones favourite smokehouse reopened with some super-cool new features – I’m intrigued about the walled garden! And My Favourite Things about Hickory’s? Its stunning location (The Chester Groves is definitely my happy place) and the chicken wings. And the gorgeous staff. Oh, and the frozen custard.
Ring O Bells
One of our fave landlords has been delivering the fabulous Bells 2 Go fayre for the last few months, and now I’ve seen him gardening – or rather Beer gardening! Yes, one of our Great Cheshire Pubs has reopened My Favourite Thing at The Ring O Bells has to be the Pizza. Its just so good.
They teased us with a fortnight of takeaway to get their systems rolling again and they also reopened last weekend. Darren and Kelly Lea are such an important part of the Chester food and drink scene, so we can’t wait to celebrate with them next weekend – and over the coming weeks. My Favourite Thing about The Faulkner? That’s easy! The Thai Vegan Red Curry with roasted cauliflower – it has to be devoured to be believed!
Exotic Booze Club
I can only imagine how many cocktail pouches these guys have served since the beginning of lockdown. Thousands is the answer – but I am so looking forward to getting all Exotic with the tikki-tastic-team up close and personal – well, at a metre + distance anyway! My Favourite Thing about Exotic Booze Club? Apart from all of it, I really love the concept and I really love their Pina Colada – and Hal. I love Hal too.
The Yard will be reopening very soon, but not as you know it.
Some of us may not have visited for months, maybe even years – but all-new The Yard will be giving us all plenty of reasons to head on up to the other side of town for something a little bit different.
The most important thing from our point of view is that you will still find the legend that is Carl Noller at the helm. Chef, Host, Patron – Carl is one of the friendliest faces in Chester and he has been very busy through lockdown getting ready for his Great Chester Comeback at The Yard. My Favourite Thing about The Yard? The Lobster Ravioli – I really hope it stays on the menu!
The Suburbs has reopened to huge cheers in Hoole and beyond. Kingdom may be the official King of lockdown, but I bet the team there can’t wait to show off their super-cool venue for real again very soon. And My Favourite Thing about The Suburbs? Their new Braai Box! A South African feast of deliciousness – and the really good news is they too will be continuing with their fabulous takeaway service well into their reopening, so I can enjoy it at home as well as in the venue. We also ordered their takeaway Sunday roast via their fab new app on Sunday and it was epic! The quality of the beef was superb.
Olive Tree Brasserie
Fresh, funky with a warm Mediterranean vibe – our favourite authentic Greek restaurant has also now reopened and there are so many things I absolutely love about this restaurant – but my all-time Favourite Thing has to be the lamb souvlaki – one word – divine!
Ahh a massive sigh of relief as the Pizza Perfectionists reopened last weekend. One of the coolest venues in town serving the best Pizza on the planet. My Favourite Thing at Urbano 32 is Claire. She’s awesome.
How I have missed The Boathouse. The River Dee is most definitely my Happy Place – so a great quality riverside pub its the perfect place for me! The Boathouse is such a special venue, with a gorgeous outside space (those fabulous multi-coloured beach huts are particularly covid-safe-friendly) and one of the best Pub Classics menus in town. My Favourite Thing about The Boathouse Chester? Their floating barge in the evening lit up with fairy lights. Its so pretty and unique. Its now open for bookings.
The Chefs Table
As expected and true to form – our friends at The Chefs Table are doing something a little different. On 7thJuly they are opening Siu Tang – their answer to fresh and fast char siu street food with The Chefs Table twist. Not long after that comes Pasta Parcel with a seasonal menu reimagined for Summer. Both of these brand-new concepts have been created with flexibility in mind – allowing the team to adapt within government guidelines as things change, and you just know it’s gonna be awesome! My Favourite Things about The Chefs Table? Their ingenuity and creativity.
Joseph Benjamin Restaurant
Who doesn’t absolutely love Joseph Benjamin? They have been part of Chester’s food and drink landscape for ever and have been recommended by Michelin since 2012. And you can no book in to enjoy the unique Joseph Benjamin Experience once again – plus they are continuing their ‘JB at Home’ service too. Great news! My Favourite Thing about Joseph Benjamin? Its the flavours – they’re out of this world.
Hanky Panky Pancakes
Mr and Mrs Hanky Panky are a fabulous couple. Dedicated, committed and full of great ideas, they have been WOWING Chester foodies for years and they deserve the success they had pre-covid and during covid. Their takeaway and delivery service seriously rocked, and Mrs HP even launched her new Spice Kitchen which went down an absolute storm. They too have now reopened, and I just know they’re going to be just as ‘in-demand’ as they always have been. My Favourite Thing about Hanky Panky Pancakes is the couple themselves – well done Mr and Mrs HP, you guys are the business!
Popcorn Bar Chester
Its Official – Popcorn makes you smile!
We really love these guys. They’re a huge amount of fun and they’ve created a great bar. Its really pretty and the staff are pretty awesome too! They have made a lot of new friends over lockdown with plenty of ice-cold beer on super-sunny days and the best chicken nuggets I have ever tasted – but just like everyone else they just want to get back to what they love doing best. And thats making us lot smile. My Favourite Thing about Popcorn is Katie. She’s my wing man. We booked a table in their gorgeous new garden on Saturday early evening and had a fabulous couple of hours. The team were clearly delighted to be back and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks guys.
The Pied Bull Chester
The Pied Bull created a very simple movie with boss Dave explaining their new safety measures, and it has literally had thousands of views (at the time of writing it was 15.2k). This much loved independent venue has now reopened – their pub classics are among the best in town! And have you seen their bedrooms? I’d book one even if I lived next door!! Definitely one of My Favourite Things in the whole city!
Where to start? Big, bold and beautiful – I am chuffed that Opera Grill has reopened those huge impressive doors once again. My Favourite Thing here is to people watch at their super-busy bar on a Saturday night. Oh, and a bit of bants with Sam. I have missed her so much.
The Black Dog
We didn’t know too much about them before lockdown, but it’s a total pleasure to know much more about them now. Mat and Bec have worked so hard throughout this crisis. They have served amazing food with big smiles and a huge amount of charm – and now we can meet them for real – and did you see their new Dining Domes already? They’re my new Favourite Thing!
Palm Cocktail Bar & Eatery
One of the prettiest venues in town even under lockdown – we are tickled pink to welcome this gorgeous venue back to the Chester Food & Drink scene. And their brand-new Afternoon Tea is just about to become one of my new Favourite Things too! (also, check out their all-day Sunday bottomless brunch – Sundays just got a whole lot better!).
The White Horse at Chester Racecourse
Delighted that these guys are back rocking and rolling. It’s a great venue in a great setting – and My Favourite Thing is sharing a bottle of Rosé with my better half Philly on a warm Summers evening as the sun sets over the racecourse. Perfect!
Palm Court Chester
A stunningly beautiful venue in a fabulous family run hotel that has certainly stood the test of time. Lets welcome back Palm Court with plenty of bookings and a whole lotta love – My Favourite Thing here is the interior – its like being in Kew Gardens but with oodles of fabulous food and drink to choose from.
Rowton Poplars Hotel
Massive congratulations to Rowton Pops for getting through lockdown with so much oomph! They have sold so much great takeaway food and their social media has been on fire with positive comments. And now they are open with an even-more-fabulous beer garden than before! Marvellous!
Big Hand Alehouse
One of the friendliest pubs in Chester has now reopened. You know the hospitality will be warm and the beer will be perfectly chilled. My Favourite Thing about Big Hand is Nikki. She’s always up for a nice little chat and she makes you feel incredibly welcome. And they serve a smashing glass of house red when I meet Philly from his office opposite for early doors. Happy Days.
The Flower Cup
I know how many of you have missed The Flower Cup. Their food is sublime – sometimes super-healthy, and other times super-naughty – but always absolutely delicious! Great coffee and a really good vibe, The Flower Cup is everything really good about Chester’s thriving Independent Food & Drink community – great quality, consistent, and very moreish! My Favourite Thing about The Flower Cup is the French Toast. A little bit naughty and very, very nice.
Its good news for lovers of Restaurant 1539 too! They are now open again and we were lucky enough to get a table for their Epsom Derby event on Saturday and it was superb, plus the Steak platter with Béarnaise sauce and truffle and parmesan fries was delicious! Like everywhere else its bookings only, so be quick! My Favourite Thing about 1539? I thoroughly enjoyed their Ellis Barrie dinner last year, so I’m looking forward to more collaborations with Celeb Chefs – fingers crossed.
One of the longest standing, independent restaurants in Chester and still very much one of the best. Chez Jules has been at the top of its game for well over 20 years and has had a loyal army of fans for all of that time, and its no surprise. The food is consistently good, its great value and the service is always spot on. They reopen on July 14th and I know they’re going to be packed out – so if you want a table you’ll need to be rapide! My Favourite Thing about Chez Jules? Their French Onion Soup. Its divine.
The Townhouse Chester
Now this is exciting! The Townhouse launched their brand new extension, The Tonic & Tea Garden at the weekend. So whether you’re after Afternoon Tea or a perfectly poured Gin & Tonic, then the new Tea & Tonic Garden is for you. I absolutely love this new space, its a beautiful, socially distanced sanctuary right in the heart of the city. My Favourite Thing about The Townhouse is the welcome you receive from Nicky. She’s a doll!
Now we know they’re not reopening til 4th August but we also know its going to be worth the wait. How much have we all missed the most Rock and Roll bar in Chester? I bet Ryan and the team can’t wait to get back to it, and that means giving us lot a night to (nearly) remember with their world famous cocktails and the best music ever. My Favourite Thing about Kuckoo is their Cara-Mac cocktail … if you know, you know!