It’s time to spread the word about…Chapter One

Kentish Pip Wild Summer Sparkling Elderflower Cider

When I was growing up my parents used to dine out on very special occasions at The Fantail restaurant in Locksbottom, Farnborough. It was the place to go if you wanted exceptional food, a decent wine list and excellent service this side of the capital during the 1970s and 80s.

Fast forward a few decades to the mid-90s and The Fantail became Chapter One. In 2000 Andrew McLeish arrived as head chef in its kitchen and in that time managed to gain the establishment a Michelin star, only to lose it in 2015. Two years after that Andrew and his business partner Marcel Faulstich decided to buy the business themselves, determined to put Chapter One back on the map, not just for its culinary offering but also for that glamorous wow factor that was so innate in The Fantail’s heyday.

On arriving there one windswept Wednesday evening, any trace of the horribly wet weather we’ve battled through on the A21 to get to Chapter One immediately trickles away. Inside it’s absolutely beautiful with a décor reminiscent of the decadent 1920s – think glimmering glass, plush leather and velvet banquettes, statement geometric floor tiles and a colour scheme of inky navy, rich teal and sea green offset by gilt finishes – all of which is not too unlike a peacock’s fantail. It sort of feels like you’re stepping into the glamorous setting for an F Scott Fitzgerald novel.

My dinner guest is my sister and we are greeted by Marcel, who tells us that the restaurant has recently undergone a thorough refurbishment and that yes, the peacock references are indeed a nod to its days as The Fantail.

But reminiscing aside, Marcel says that he, Andrew and their team are firmly focused on the future of Chapter One, stating that providing inspiring, impressive and frequently changing menus courtesy of the area’s best quality seasonal ingredients in both its chic and cosy brasserie and fine dining restaurant is a key aim.

We have opted to put this to the test in the latter, which boasts an à la carte menu at the fixed price of £42.95 for three courses. One glance at what’s on offer and Chapter One’s gastro vision seems to be on track. A lot of the meat is from nearby Chart Farm in Sevenoaks and drinks are sourced from Westerham Brewery and Chapel Down. There’s also a specialist game tasting menu at the moment too, priced at £64.95.

Intensely flavoursome

From the main à la carte I choose the smoked haddock kedgeree served with curry mayonnaise, haddock arancini, crispy squid and raisin purée for my starter as I’m intrigued to see how this combination of flavours and textures will work. Thankfully it’s a perfect partnership that achieves the right balance of silky, smoky fish with crunchy, citrusy seafood morsels, further enhanced by the dabs of piquant mayo. My sister’s choice of ballotine of foie gras and grouse confit served with crumbs of pain d’épice and damson jam is a sweet, soft and rich confection that’s gone all too soon.

We order two glasses of 2018 Andeluna 1300 Mendoza Malbec (£8.95) to accompany our next course as we’ve both chosen meat: pressed and roasted lamb shoulder with roast rump, aubergine, braised baby gem and tahini yoghurt for me; and the roasted roebuck venison haunch with girolles, cavolo nero and venison pithivier – AKA pastry – for my sister.

Venison carpaccio with Wiltshire truffles, parmesan flakes and truffle dressing

We also order a couple of sides, tenderstem broccoli with olive oil and lemon and Pink Fir potatoes grilled on Chapter One’s American Josper Grill. The meat is moist and intensely flavoursome but if I have one criticism it’s that there’s just a little bit too much oil anointed on the sides. A little less and it would have been outstanding.

Dessert is also included in the prix fixe menu and although we’re both full to the brim by now we decide to share a serving of the passion fruit millefeuille served with poached Kentish blackberries and a quenelle of blackberry sorbet. Like all our dishes the presentation is exquisite. The pastry is crisp and light and the berries are tangy and a great palate-cleanser. Despite saying we were full we find our forks duelling for the final morsel.

We’ve been very well looked after and enjoyed some really interesting, tasty food that’s very reasonably priced and generously served. If the team continue to deliver to this high standard then it’s fair to say that Chapter One will become a long-term best seller.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter