It’s very nearly time to dine outside with friends and family – from Monday April 12th. Thank the lord! And the fact that Spring has well and truly arrived is an added bonus. And the really good news is that so many of our favourite venues have seriously pimped up their outside spaces, creating fresh new havens of alfresco loveliness where we can get reacquainted with our nearest and dearest. Bravo Chester! You’ve definitely pulled this one well and truly out of the bag …
Here is my selection of the best post lockdown outside-spaces in and around Chester – along with a few suggestions for the best dishes and drinks to enjoy while you’re there.
Oak & Smoke Wood Fired Pizza Kitchen, Bridge Trafford
It’s time to get back to nature and dine underneath the stars with friends and family. In the garden at The Chester Fields you will find something a little bit different. A wood fired kitchen serving the best pizza in the cosy comfort of your own household (or two). This is a special place where we can all come together while remaining a safe distance apart – to enjoy great food using the best local produce – perfectly accompanied by a great big glass of red! Real food cooked on a real fire seems to taste better somehow. See you there!
The Chester Fields Country Pub and Restaurant, Bridge Trafford
Gorgeous gardens, outside dining huts and those stunning views over the Cheshire plains – it’s certainly worth the ten minute taxi journey from the city centre. They have won countless awards for their consistent and authentic use of local produce too. Get cosy with blankets and schnapps – Spring and Summer evenings are definitely ON at The Chester Fields.
Hickory’s Smokehouse, Chester city centre
We know how much effort these guys put into their outside drinking and dining spaces, and Chester has to be the pièce de résistance with their incredible walled garden. A post-lockdown masterpiece with the stunning backdrop of the River Dee. And who doesn’t absolutely love Hickory’s? This super-popular venue is always bustling with happy faces, and one portion of chicken wings is never enough. True story!
In it’s 21st year – Barlounge is looking better than ever! This iconic Chester venue came out of lockdown number one with a stunning new terrace – covered in-part, heated and very smart indeed – the perfect place to drink and dine, whatever the weather – and their sticky sausages are still totally divine!
The Old Dukes, Chester city centre
The Old Dukes burst into our lives late last year and we’ve been counting the days til we can return ever since. We’ve kept the Old Dukes vibe alive with a fair few takeaways – but now we can get properly excited about the real-deal-experience that we’ve been craving for so long. And we especially love their outside seats which will be back-in-action very soon.
The Black Dog, Waverton
I’m a massive fan of The Black Dog. These guys think very differently and put their exciting plans into action. They have plenty of space in the countryside to enjoy great seasonal food and drink with more than a sprinkling of stardust, and this year they have some very special plans in the making for a spectacular outside dining experience to take us into Summer 2021. Think 150 capacity totally-awesome themed Amazonian terrace – and you’ll be on the right lines! Watch this space for details … 🌞🌴
The White Horse at Chester Racecourse
The White Horse at Chester Racecourse is such a special place – and it has to be one of the most family-friendly venues in Chester. Located right on the racecourse itself, this great dining pub has plenty of space both inside and out – and I am totally in love with their gorgeous new outside experience as you now have nine individually designed dining sheds to choose from – they’re super-cute! The A La Carte menu is still jam-packed with those superb quality pub classics, and you can expect a few ‘White Horse’ twists, I am told. There is a full calendar of kid’s events for 2021 – and an open air cinema on selected dates right throughout the Summer – how exciting is that? I’ll see you there!
The Secret Garden at The Townhouse, Chester city centre
Think Tranquil Hideout, Butterfly House and The Enchanted Garden! This is a magical place, tucked away on Lower Bridge Street and ready to burst into life this Springtime. The Townhouse team had been very busy creating this gorgeous oasis last year – and it has been busy again making it even more glorious ready for The Great Chester Comeback. You can also look forward to some very special outdoor happenings with the Summer & Sunsets collection – and if you love Afternoon Tea, then The Secret Garden is definitely the right place for you.
Restaurant 1539 has one of the greatest views in the city stretching right over one of the most famous and picturesque racecourses in the country. This restaurant is adored by so many, and their roof terrace is now even more gorgeous than it was before with its super-sexy Spring makeover. I’ll definitely be visiting soon to sample their updated A La Carte and roof terrace menus. And a little birdie tells me there’s some fabulous roof top club events in the making too, including live music and brunch club, so stay tuned for some wonderful happenings up on the roof! This venue oozes quality and the staff are an absolute delight. I cannot wait to dress up and step up to the Restaurant 1539 roof terrace this Springtime.
Hanky Panky Pancakes
The loveliest couple in Chester hospitality are back next week from Wednesday (14th April) with just a few outside tables – but remember it’s always quality over quantity with these guys! Expect some of your favourite pancakes plus Mrs HP’s Spice Kitchen will also be returning with a few tweaks I am told. But one thing that will never change is Mr & Mrs HP’s outstanding and genuine hospitality. Priceless.
Delivery and takeaway will continue until 17th May when they fully reopen.
Commonhall Social, Chester city centre
Commonhall Social has been missed. Big time. These guys had completely redesigned their outside space last year with a slightly ‘Scandi’ brand-new look, and then we had to lock down again. So you can imagine how much the team is looking forward to showing it off properly this Springtime – it really is epic! But that’s not all. You may have enjoyed one or more of their racecourse weekenders last year in between lockdowns. This is where they take over the centre of the racecourse and ‘pop up’ with their superb beer selection and awesome comfort food all weekend – and with the best music too. These are happening again this year so look out for the dates, and enjoy!
The Boathouse, Chester River Dee
The Boathouse in Chester has one of the best outside spaces in the city with its sunning riverside location, a floating barge and the cutest, heated beach huts for a fabulous, socially-distanced Springtime dining experience. You can’t beat a delicious glass of red and a nibble to share while watching the sunset over the River Dee. Perfect!
The Pied Bull, Chester city centre
There are lots of great surprises to be found at The Pied Bull. The most incredible bedrooms, a microbrewery (the smallest inside the city walls we believe), great pub food, a couple of friendly ghosts and this fabulous hidden garden right in the heart of the city. This beautiful space is the perfect escape from the everyday … and their seasonal pub classics are delicious too. I know how hard Dave and the team have been working behind the scenes – so expect a few surprises with the big reveal!
Burger Shed 41
Love Burgers? You’re in for a treat – plus amazing hot dogs, poutine (I swear its the best in town!), chicken wings (also divine), sharers, milkshakes are all on the Burger Shed 41 menu too – and anywhere that serves crinkle cut chips gets my vote for greatness! They have enough al fresco seating out-front to ensure we can all enjoy that totally unique Burger Shed experience again from next week onwards. Bring It!
I have missed Urbano32 so much! Luckily they did return with their delish street-food pizza slices and parmesan & truffle fries (OMG) recently – but from next week we can sit down and indulge in the full and fabulous Urbano experience – and that’s great news for all of us. Claire and the team and back-with-a-bang and I cannot wait!
Ring O’Bells Christleton, just outside Chester
Stop everything! And check out the Ring O’Bells Tipi, which takes Alfresco dining to a whole new level! I always describe this fabulous place as one of our Great Cheshire Pubs. Chef Andrew King heads up an award-winning kitchen and its always a really good quality experience all-round, and definitely worth the five minute car journey from the city centre. Chef Andrew loves the Spring as much as I do, so you can be sure of some delicious lighter dishes as well as some bloody good seasonal ales from this favourite country pub – and who wouldn’t want to dine in that stunning new space?
Blue Bell 1494, Chester city centre
Now this is a real gem in the city centre – a beautifully authentic Spanish tapas bar with this gorgeous garden. We reviewed Blue Bell 1494 last year between lockdowns and gave it five stars (click here to find out why) so give it a go, it really is a very special place with another great ghost story from 1645. New dishes included Queso de Cabra Frito – deep fried Goats cheese drizzled with honey & served with quince jelly, and Vieras Fritas – pan fried scallops with a pancetta & Parmesan crumb, served on a fresh pea purée. Both of which were delicious! And their new street food menu is just amazing!
The Goshawk, Delamere
Just 15 minutes drive from the city centre, this is another Great Cheshire Pub with a stunning outside space, and this one overlooking an immaculately manicured bowling green. The Goshawk is located close to Delamere forest, so a walk through the stunning woodland followed by great pub food is the perfect Spring outdoor escape with the family.
Opera Grill, Chester city centre
Opera Grill is a pretty impressive venue. Seriously sexy food, fabulous decor and a truly cosmopolitan vibe, their outside terrace space is the place to be seen in the Spring sunshine. Heated and with plenty of space, if you’re looking for a super-stylish venue, then Opera Grill is definitely the place for you. And if you’re lucky enough to bag yourself a Bottomless Brunch terrace table with local-legends Geddes and Gioia, then well done you! Watch out for new dates …
Duttons, Chester city centre
I love the new look Duttons – and the fact that it sits on the most beautiful street in the city (Godstall Lane) just makes it all the more gorgeous. Sitting outside Duttons enjoying a delicious alfresco lunch with a glass of wine or two is an affordable treat – and the staff are delightful too.
Rowton Poplars, Waverton
Hidden away in Waverton is a very special place called Rowton Poplars Hotel. This unusual venue is well known for its great quality food, fabulously warm welcome and super-cosy bedrooms. Independently run by the Friend family, they have taken full advantage of their idyllic canal side setting by creating a gorgeous fairylight-lit garden – now with super-cute Bubble Barns and Wigwams for a fabulous dining experience in the great outdoors.
Northgate Street really has become Chester’s Street Food Hub of late – and Dough Dough has been a massive part of it with their authentic and perfect street pizzas (I know, I’ve had a few!) – so it will be great to welcome them back with their street-side space looking out onto the hum-drum of post-lock-down life in the city centre. I’ll be there!
The Deva Tap
If you love local beer – then you should visit The Deva Tap. Run by a wonderful couple Tim and Lindsey, these guys not only seriously know their stuff, but they really care about everything they do too. For me, The Deva Tap epitomises Independent Chester perfectly – a really well run, quality, family run venue which has most certainly stood the test of time. If you haven’t been before – they are nestled just off super-cool Brook Street (Indie heaven!) with an outside space ready for you to take a pew to enjoy a pint of something very good indeed – plus their pub classics are nothing short of epic.
Their beer and food delivery service will also be continuing for the time being too.
Vin santo Chester
If you love wine and great service – you’ll love Vin santo Chester. It sits right in the middle of Watergate Street – a gorgeous retail shop full of wine lovers delights – and that’s not all. This is also a wine bar of the old school variety with a startling number of fabulous wines by the glass, and an impressive spirit selection too. They have just opened their fabulous Watergate Street Wine Terrace – and a little birdie tells me that food will be along soon in the form of cheese and charcuterie platters. The whole experience is a treat and the staff are delightful. Welcome back Vinsanto – we missed you!