New Restaurant Review – The Blue Bell 1494 Chester

This restaurant has been with us here in Chester for years. Many years in fact, as its history goes right back to the mid to late 15th century and is said to be the oldest surviving intact medieval house in Chester. It was originally two houses, which were joined in the 18th century. From an early date, the south part of the building has been an inn, its first licence possibly dating from 1494.

Today it is owned by Mick and Rachel who took it over as a going concern about four years ago. They have created a superb-quality Spanish tapas bar and restaurant with a super-sophisticated refurb and a mouth watering menu with some of the best authentic tapas dishes we have ever tasted.

These guys know what they are doing. They are humble, dedicated and know a thing or two about genuine hospitality. Mick ran a series of very successful bars and dining pubs in London winning many awards for his food, and it shows. Chatting to him about the good old days in the capital is a real treat and I just know he’s got more stories for me!

On to the food. There is plenty of choice on this menu but its not overwhelming. We all absolutely love nibbling and sharing great food over a glass of something delicious, so this experience is perfect for any size of gathering – and even though we didn’t try it on this visit, we hear their paella dishes are divine!

Order as many dishes as you fancy and they leave the kitchen as and when they’re ready – this is relaxed, informal dining at its best.

We ordered;

Pan de Ajo con Queso
Garlic and rosemary focaccia with melted cheese

Chorizo Frito Picante
Pan fried spicy chorizo cooked with fresh chillies in a red wine sauce

Croquetas Jamón y Queso
Homemade serrano ham & manchego cheese croquettes

Mejilla de Cerdo
Braised pork cheeks slow cooked in ale with savoy cabbage and onions

Champiñones Fritos
Pan fried medley of mushrooms sautéed in a garlic and sweet sherry sauce

Homemade hummus with warm pitta bread and crudités

Anchovies marinated in olive oil with sun-dried tomatoes & fresh chillies

Gambas Pil Pil
Marinated king prawns with chilli, garlic & paprika

Calamari Andalusia
Deep fried seasoned squid rings with homemade aioli

Homemade pork meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce

The food was fantastic! Everything was really fresh and delicious, the flavours are lovely and there really is something for everyone including plenty of vegetarian options. I loved every single dish, but the Chorizo and the Braised pork cheeks were amazing, although I could quite happily order exactly the same selection again – its all such good quality!

There is also a gorgeous hidden garden at the back and there are various rooms which make great private dining areas if you prefer to dine just with your own household at the moment.

I cannot recommend this lovely Chester independent restaurant and bar highly enough. The staff are a delight and everything is spot on yet relaxed and sophisticated all at the same time.

It certainly gets five stars from us and we can’t wait to go back with friends and family.

And just a final note about their resident ghost Henrietta – a love-sick maiden who watched her Royalist lover leave from the top window of her home to fight the Roundheads for King James, promising to be back by 10pm. There is much more to this sad story, but I’ll leave you to delve into the past yourself to learn what happened when he never returned.

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