Voted the 3rd most romantic restaurant in England by The Times, The Chesil Rectory has recently undergone a rather glamorous refurbishment in time for its 10th year anniversary
Review by Donna McCulloch
Housed in a beautiful, mediaeval building, The Chesil Rectory is the oldest commercial building in Winchester. It was believed to have been gifted to the locals by Mary Tudor, after her particularly lavish wedding to King Philip II of Spain nearly bankrupt the city.
We were served drinks in the intimate Merchant’s Lounge area, which, thanks to some clever interior styling, manages to achieve both a cosy and a decadent ambience. The use of green, blue and marigold as the accent colours add a luxurious touch whilst arm chairs and leather bar stools ensure it still retains an air of clubby comfort.
It was here, that we tasted the house cocktail The King (after Winchester’s most famous Anglo-Saxon, King Alfred, obviously) and a gin martini, both of which were excellent, on a side note, the reviewer is more than partial to a gin and tonic and would happily revisit this venue for the cocktails alone… Added to this, Sergio, the Bar Manager will happily offer suggestions and furnish you with recommendations should you struggle to make a decision on your aperitif of choice.
After drinks, we were taken to the main dining area downstairs; there is an additional private dining area, named after another of Winchester’s former residents, Jane Austen. I took a peek at this room and can confirm it would be the perfect venue for an event such as a birthday or anniversary. However, we ate in the main dining area.
There was plenty of choice, for even the fussiest of eaters (me) on the beautifully presented menu, designed by local Artist, Milli McGregor. I opted for the celeriac soup with quails’ egg & celery salt as I think there’s nothing more comforting on a wintry night than a bowl of soup. It was utterly delicious, but with hindsight, I should have gone for something lighter as this was a substantial starter and having ordered the biggest plate on the menu, the pan fried brill with Bombay potatoes and onion bhaji for a main course, I only managed to eat half…!
Given how excellent it was, it seemed a sin to waste but my partner, who’d had the guinea fowl terrine and oven roasted pheasant was not in any position to assist, given how generous the portions are. I did manage to save a tiny bit of room for dessert and with Manager, Katie’s help, I selected the lightest option, the orange mousse with homemade macaroons and bitter orange gel which was the perfect end to a elegant meal.
Enquires: The Chesil Rectory, 1 Chesil Street, Winchester SO23 0HU / 01962 851555 / www.chesilrectory.co.uk/