Chapter One

My local restaurant Chapter One where Andrew McLeish cooks wonderful dishes.

Executive Chef Andrew McLeish Andrew began his career working with the renowned chef Nico Landenis at Chez Nico in London's Park Lane. He honed his management and private function skills at London's premier five star hotel The Ritz. Prior to being headhunted for Chapter One, Andrew was head chef for the Dining Room at The  Landmark in London, one of the capital's most prestigious hotels.

In a nutshell, what we have is a Michelin starred restaurant serving truly exceptional food at prices... that would have the average high street chain worried. Located near Bromley, it’s within easy reach of the M25 on the Kent/Surrey border, making it an especially realistic proposition for those who live south of the river.

"Beautiful" dishes with "complex flavours" continue to win a huge following for this well established "suburban oasis"; almost all of the many reports speak of "consistently high standards" and "excellent attention to detail".

"The doors open onto a realm of striking contemporary design and top level culinary experience.

Andrew McLeish started out his culinary career with Nico Ladenis, so classical ways are deeply ingrained in his consummate technical skills, enlivened by a leaning for modish ingredients and wowfactor presentation. Meals climax with desserts that have a definite x factor. What’s more this is all priced very keenly.”

By Sudi Pigott "author of the best seller " How To be A Better Foodie”

"If Chapter One had a W1 postcode, it would be one of the most coveted tables in all London. Instead, like Bruce Poole at the legendary Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, Michelin starred Andrew McLeish thrives on delivering a local restaurant de luxe of superlative all-round calibre that transcends expectations of neighbourhood dining. And it offers phenomenal value too.

On a buzzy Saturday evening, there’s a definite air of anticipation and sense of occasion in the chic modern dining room. Yet refreshingly, unlike in many West End restaurants, the tables are so wellspaced that eavesdropping on salacious gossip is out, even for those who find that more appealing than concentrating on salivating over a creative and alluring menu which offers so many enticing dishes, choosing is a real challenge. What’s more every starter was a hit. Deceptively simple velvety rich Jerusalem artichoke veloute redolent with freshly shaved Perigord truffle (not mere truffle oil) comes with impeccable gnocchi. And, there’s no stinting on luxury ingredients to add to the sense of treat at Chapter One, despite its extremely reasonable pricing. It does make you wonder what some restaurants are up to. Smoked eel is a stylish visual treat served with a smoked eel take on brandade and ultra-light croquette and vivid beetroot cubes. Like perennial favourite, the pheasant salad, a lovely delicate Spring dish. As the truly serious foodie in our party, as ever I gravitated immediately to the most edgy starter on the menu the compressed pig’s head that, despite its description, even the more squeamish gourmet would enjoy. It came as an innocuous looking but deeply flavoursome "terrine” with crispy chitterlings and chestnut foam – an outstanding original dish worth travelling far for.

Mains surpass expectations too. The tone is set by a sophisticated fish choice of halibut with lobster too, chanterelle mushrooms and hazelnuts, again the kind of luxurious dish more often found on a two or three Michelin star menu at eye-watering prices. I liked too a witty and different grown-up surf and turf special: black bream with perfect clearly in-house made oxtail ravioli. Simpler dishes are equally pleasurable. There’s nothing more delicious than beautiful, pearlescent cod that flakes as it should, served with a sublime truffled silky mash with generous truffle shavings on top, which compared favourably with iconic chef Joel Robuchon’s legendary pomme purée. At the other extreme and demonstrating what an all-round pleaser Chapter One’s menu is, a full on carnivore’s dish of belly of pork with exemplary crackling and such good sauerkraut seconds were requested and brought with a smile. The staff do mostly manage that fine balance between friendly and professional and importantly knowing the menu inside out too.

To properly appreciate the scope of desserts, plump for the fully monty assiette. Incredibly, this includes a full half dozen desserts in miniature including melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant worth fighting for a stake in, an elegant shot glass of layers of coffee and amaretto trifle, tasters of both the baked plum and banana desserts on the a la carte, and an ultra refreshing lemon and crème fraiche sorbet. "Despite the many Michelin-starred gourmet bolt holes scattered throughout this country... and the notable advancement of the British food scene over the past decade, there is still much talk of not being able to find a decent restaurant outside of London and our other major cities. Of course

there are exceptions big name chefs who have gone for it in the sticks, and gentrified culinary clusters like Ludlow and Bray but a common complaint among foodies is the lack of good, affordable local restaurants which pull off what they’re doing with precision, flair and zeal. Chapter One in Locksbottom, Kent is one such hidden gem.

When I arrive on a Saturday lunchtime the dining room is full, lacking the stuffiness that so often comes with Michelin-standard food, which I suspect has much to do with the incredibly affordable menu that McLeish is offering here. At £4.50 per starter, £14 per main course and £4.50 desserts, or a three course menu du jour for 18.50, its a steal.

McLeish’s cooking style is modern European, with its roots very much in the classical, but hes a chef who really cares about provenance, and is clearly passionate about communicating that. He's proud of his restaurant's location in the garden of England, and he shows it using as much produce as possible from the surrounding area of Kent.

McLeish cooks with care - not just in his attention to detail, but in terms of his ingredients. My delightfully piquant mackeral escabeshe - which is fast becoming a signature dish, and a favourite among regular diner Gary Rhodes - is made with the abundant oliy fish rather than the usual red mullet because of the latter’s increasingly scarcity.

Considering the fair-pricing, its good to see that the portions are so generous, and my main course of sea bass is a vast hunk of fresh, fleshy fish, accompanied by a wonderful, almost-floral celeriac remoulade, flecked with lobster and given a pleasing crunch by some toasted hazelnuts. It’s a gorgeous combination. My partners steak is a hefty, bloody ribeye with a deep, charred flavour and sumptuous flesh, served with a copper pot of indulgent black truffle potato puree.

AA Restaurant Guide 2011 "A gastronomic landmark in Kent’s commuterland since 1996, this striking building is still a favourite with local foodies who relish its tempting cocktail of smart cosmopolitan surrounds and serious food at local prices. Much depends on Andrew McLeish’s cooking, which is supremely accomplished and full of up-to-the-minute strokes but also sits easily on the palate.”

The Good Food Guide 2011

"Top notch food without having to make a journey up to town – the concept that’s won a gigantic following for this fabulous Kent stalwart, one of the very best restaurants on the fringes of the capital”

Harden’s UK Restaurant Guide 2011

"Chapter One is a cutting-edge contemporary restaurant in both its design and its culinary approach. The fine-dining room is a series of shimmering spaces created by the use of beaded curtains against a low-lit backdrop of deep, rich cherry, chocolate and cream tones. Andrew McLeish’s cooking tacks to the classical side of haute cuisine, but with a modern sensibility for quality ingredients and swish presentation."