Picture the scenario, It’s a Friday night in Cardiff, your high maintenance other half demands to be taken for dinner ‘somewhere fancy’, where on earth do take your beloved to dine, clearly a kebab and chips will not suffice. Luckily for you, opulence can be found in Cardiff in the form of Chapel 1877, a fine dining restaurant within a gorgeous converted chapel, hallelujah.
The old Pembroke Terrace Chapel on Churchill Way has been restored and luxuriously converted to its former gothic glory and is now a marvellous mash up of ecclesiastical and modern, offering a rather unique dining experience in Cardiff. It’s certainly a sizeable venue to dine in, with three floors of stunning surroundings, including the gastro bar, where you can start your evenings with a cheeky drink or two, the restaurant à la carte on the first floor and the Churchill Suite, which can be hired for private functions.
It’s not often you enter a restaurant and are immediately impressed by your surroundings, but Chapel is a stand out venue in terms of elegant design. It’s all gloriously high ceilings, beautifully restored ornate features, chandeliers and gorgeous lighting. When you first impression is that of grandeur you can only hope the menu will be as remarkable.
We were led upstairs to the à la carte dining area and were seated inside a cosy booth that overlooked the upper floor. In this sacramental like setting we were unsure whether to confess our sins or order cocktails? We thought it best to repent whilst sampling some of the delightful cocktails on offer, baby steps to redemption and all that.
Whilst debating menu options we perused the wine list, Chapel have a comprehensive offering of wines and champagnes from around the world, it was certainly difficult to narrow your selection down when there are this many fine wines to choose from. We decided to try the Los Picos Reserve Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. Sauv Blanc is a personal favourite of ours and this Chilean offering was a fruity little number with a lovely finish, look at us sounding like we know about wine. Thank god for labels eh?
There is a sumptuous selection of starters at Chapel including Soy Marinated Duck Breast, Pan Roasted Scallops and Avocado, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Salad. We opted for the Ham Hock Welsh cider and whole grain mustard terrine as a starter served with piccalilli and baked ciabatta. It was certainly a vibrant and colourful dish and pretty perfect for Instagramming. However, it’s not all about ‘the gram’ kids, a dish must also deliver on taste. This particular terrine tasted like rustic, home-made goodness. Nothing beats a classic terrine, especially if served with some quality piccalilli.
After a strong start, it was time for the mains our waiter explained that many of the menu offerings are sourced from local suppliers where possible, which is normally a good sign of deliciousness and freshness to come. We opted for a Roast Tenderloin of Pork Wrapped in Parma Ham and Pan Fried Anglesey Sea Bass Fillet.
The pork was wrapped in Parma ham and came with Potato gratin, cabbage, broad beans, cider jus. Pork tenderloin is lean and tender and such is perhaps not the most flavourful of meats but the Parma ham accompaniment added a textured saltiness to this dish, the pork also had the correct level of moistness [suppresses urge to add ‘that’s what she said’]. It was also excellently paired with tasty cider jus, which really brought the dish together.
The Sea Bass Fillet was served alongside roasted new potatoes, wild mushrooms, samphire and salsa verde. The sea bass had a wonderfully crispy skin and was cooked to flaky perfection, the salsa verde also provided a lovely herby depth of flavour to the dish, nothing worse than a dried up old fish right?
Despite proclaiming ourselves ‘far too full for desert’ our resistance wavered when we saw the ‘Salted caramel chocolate fondant with banana ice cream’ option, it had to be done you understand I’m sure. The fondant was the most heavenly, chocolatey gooey pudding you could imagine. The velvety chocolate flowed lava like from the centre and despite our reservations about banana flavoured ice cream, it made for an interesting flavour combination.
As the evening drew to a close we concluded that Chapel is definitely a dining experience, rather than merely a meal out. The grandeur architecture, the ambiance, the excellent waiting staff, it all helps to create an idea of dinner as an event, rather than just satisfying hunger. It is most definitely worth a visit. Go on spoil yourself darling, you’re worth it.
Portia Jones @ PipintheCity