Saturday, 2 March 2013

Greystone Chapel - Chapel 1877 Cardiff review

The restaurant at Chapel 1877 Cardiff
I doubt many of you can have failed to notice Cardiff’s latest restaurant, Chapel 1877. How could you? Having made it's conspicuous entrance late in 2012, in the renovated Pembroke Terrace Chapel on Churchill Way in Cardiff Town Centre, it has been promoting itself as the hottest place in town since.

The website makes confident statements, describing Chapel 1877 as a ‘jewel in the crown for Cardiff’ and promising fine dining of “superb quality” with “one of the finest menus around” in a “phenomenal setting”. I was intrigued, and hoping that the reality could live up to the hyperbole.

They are proud of the building, and rightly so, it is quite lovely. Sympathetically renovated, the fixtures complement the beautiful architecture, by turns dramatic, secretive, glamorous, it is a great space.
Chandelier Chapel 1877 Cardiff
Gorgeous chandelier, very "Phantom of the Opera"

The menu is ‘modern British’, crowd pleasing fare. Starters include the obligatory scallops with cauliflower puree, potted rabbit with piccalilli. A typical main might be pork belly with cider jus, Gressingham duck with puy lentils or a cut from the grill section. Not everything on the menu has provenance but there are sufficient producers referenced to keep the casual ‘foodie’ happy.

Whoever put the wine list together deserves a pat on the back for understanding their audience. A good selection at each price point with a varied and interesting selection at sub £20 a bottle. Bravo.

We started with drinks in the ground floor bar which inexplicably had numerous distracting televisions broadcasting muted Wales Today. 7 of us ordered drinks. Nothing was written down. 4 correct drinks arrived and it took a frustrating 3 attempts to complete the order.

My starter, a ‘Red onion tarte tatin, Pant-ysgawn goat’s cheese, rocket £5.50’ was slightly overdone, carbonised bitterness overpowering the natural sweetness of the onions. The creamy, salty goats cheese saved the day.
Red onion tarte tatin Chapel 1877 Cardiff
Red onion tarte tatin
A rib eye steak (£19), ordered medium, was well cooked but woefully underseasoned and bland. The pot of Béarnaise  used for chip-dipping, was delicious with a good hit of tarragon. A half tomato had been grilled to the point of mush and without flavour.

Rib eye steak Chapel 1877 Cardiff
Rib eye steak, Béarnaise sauce
I skipped dessert but tasted someone else’s ‘Merlyn liquor crème brulee, white chocolate cookies £5.50’. The brulee looked beautiful, but for me there was too much booze and I couldn’t taste the custard which was a shame.

It’s not hard to understand why Chapel 1877 is having an impact in Cardiff, and it's great to have a destination venue that isn't another chain. The setting is stunning and I’ll bet that it buzzes and hums of a Saturday night. Unfortunately for me, the food and service just didn't manage to live up to their own, self-aggrandising hype.

Dining booths at Chapel 1877 Cardiff
Romantic, 2 person dining booths
The bar, Chapel 1877 Cardiff
Ground floor bar
Chapel 1877
Churchill Way  Cardiff, South Glamorgan CF10 2WF
029 2022 2020

Twitter: @chapel1877bar


  1. Your review echoes loudly my visit to Chapel 1877 two weeks ago. Three of us met for midweek cocktails and lunch.

    The food whilst reasonably good, had elements lacking in each dish. Two of the main courses on the menu were unavailable. The green pepper sauce to go with my Barnsley chop took so long to arrive, I'd had to start eating without it. Two of us ordered the blood orange panacotta but were told there was none left. Five minutes later we were told Chef had found 2. We mistakenly agreed to have them, they were not St their best.

    However, by far the worst thing was the feeling of being rushed. It wasn't a busy lunch service, but we were presented with our bill before we requested it. We advised the waiter we'd be ordering coffee and liquers, but he left the bill on the table and brought an additional one.

    We had a good time, but that was more down to the cocktails and company as opposed to the food/service/ambience.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      Interesting that you had a similar experience. Here's hoping that they manage to iron out these issues and produce a dining experience that matches the quality of the building.

  2. Wow! That looks like an amazing setting to dine in - maybe I'll wait until the food picks up a bit though. Thanks for the review!

    1. Thanks for the comment, it wasn't a bad meal, just not as good as their marketing suggests! Be interested to hear your views.


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