Thank you to Ian Southerin of The Cheshire School of Photography for use of this stunning photo.
OK, so we know that no matter what happens – Christmas is not cancelled. Whether we’re in some sort of lockdown or not, we will still be able to spend time celebrating with our nearest and dearest and make the very best of it.
The Big Message from WLGT, Taste Cheshire, Marketing Cheshire, the Chester Hospitality Association and Chester BID is to Keep it 100% Local this year. We’ve all been banging on about it for months, but the importance of Supporting Local Chester couldn’t be any more important right now.
We have been very supportive of the Chester Gift Card from the BID (which personally I think is an absolutely fantastic initiative, click here to find out more) and we will continue our support over Christmas and beyond (remember, giving the Gift of Chester is not just for Christmas!).
.. and as you know we have been resolute in our support of Chester’s hospitality and lifestyle sector – something that remains very close to my heart. So I am asking you all to further support our fabulous bars, restaurants and dining pubs by buying their Gift Vouchers for the food & drink lovers in your life this Christmas.
You know how we love creating a guide every now and then (!), so here are my Top Picks of the best venues selling gift vouchers in and around the city this year – and remember to give WLGT a mention when you make a purchase 😉.
The Chester Fields Country Pub and Restaurant
One of my all-time favourite venues run by one of my favourite operators. I have huge respect for mr Mark Jarvis. The Chester Fields is now nearly 10 years old and it looks and feels as fresh as a daisy. Its always stayed true to its roots – a great quality dining pub championing local produce with warm hospitality and high standards. They have won so many awards and all thoroughly deserved, this is one of the best in the business. Mark has taken his Christmas Gift Voucher game a step further this year by doubling the value of the voucher you purchase now (and up to the end of the year) for a four week period in the new year – so a voucher worth £50 now when you purchase it can be redeemed for £100 in the New Year. Absolutely brilliant! Please support my good friends at The Chester Fields – and a little birdie tells me they have more exciting news coming very soon so watch this space.
The Black Dog Bar and Restaurant
Let’s hear it for Mat and Bec Demetri of the Black Dog fame – they have seriously rocked both lockdowns with one of the best takeaway menus on planet Chester and with the most innovate and creative businesses around. So they were among the first to invest in their outside space with those amazing dining domes and their menus are a weird and wonderful mix of fine dine meets willy wonka – I am expecting a lot more in the way of foodie theatrics with their post-lockdown Christmas offering too – bring it on I say! And of course WLGT will be bringing you all of their latest news and craziness, so watch this space. And seeing as Matt, Bec, Chef Mike Hodges and the rest of the team are so resilient and innovative, why wouldn’t you want to give the gift of spectacular food and drink this year by buying a Black Dog gift card … ?
Burger Shed 41
Give the gift of Burgers, Wings, Shakes, Craft beers, Poutine and so much more (vegan dishes also available) this Christmas. I absolutely love Burger Shed. One of your very best independent city centre restaurants and always great quality, would there be anything better than getting a Gift Voucher for the Best Burgers in Chester? (other burgers are available!). I think not.
We should be incredibly proud of Nik and his team at hypha. They were awarded their Michelin recommendation after only six months of trading – and its easy to see why. This is one awesome fine dine restaurant and bar, but for Nik and the team its way more than just a business. This is a fabulous plant based restaurant, and they take food sustainability very seriously indeed. Their ‘Seasons Story’ tasting menus (a seasonally changing, set menu showcasing the finest produce from local growers and foragers) are stunning, and the thought and consideration that goes into creating them is thorough and painstaking. I was lucky enough to enjoy their Autumn Story between lockdowns and the experience was sublime (read my restaurant review here). A gift voucher for hypha will make any food lover extremely happy this Christmas.
hypha is a part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
Right next door to hypha, you’ll find their brand new fermentation lab called koji (a filamentous fungus used in Japan to saccharify rice, sweet potato, and barley in the making of sake, soy sauce and miso) – a complete online retailer for nationwide delivery or local collection. From December you’ll be able to get your hands on some pretty awesome products produced on-site, including Cauliflower Leaf Kimchi, Hungarian Sauerkraut, Hawthorn Ketchup, Alpine Strawberry Jam, Pickled Marrow, Romanesco Giardiniera, Lemon & Marigold Oil, Zesty Cep Seasoning Salt, Smoked Kale Katsuobushi, Hot Sauces, Cordials, Kefir Water and Kombucha. And what’s really exciting is that you can now buy tickets to their socially distanced, fermentation masterclasses for the adventurous food lover in your life – and I reckon they’ll be pretty delighted with a Christmas gift like that.
Masterclasses will be scheduled very soon, watch this space for details.
koji is a part of the Chester Gift Card scheme.
Opera Grill is a super-stylish venue located right in the heart of the city on Pepper Street. Spanning two large floors, this is a grown-up playground if ever there was – with amazing food and drink, a stunning all-weather terrace, a live music lounge and a fabulously friendly team. They have so much going on, from Supper Club dinners to Saturday Bottomless brunch (both food and drink!) and so much more, so a Gift Card from Opera Grill will make any fashionista feel fabulous this Christmas.
Please contact my lovely friend Sam to purchase at Sam.Dhaliwal@individualrestaurants.com.
Rowton Poplars Hotel
Rowton Poplars Hotel is such a special place. Located a few miles from the city centre in a picturesque canal-side spot, this is definitely somewhere to relax, unwind and get away from it all. An independently run hotel, bar and restaurant with the most amazing new suite of Bubble Barns in the garden, this really is a hidden gem of a venue with something for everyone. The perfect venue for a Chester Staycation – a Gift Voucher for Rowton Pops will make someones year!
Food Walking Tours around Chester
I absolutely love this totally unique Chester experience, this is the perfect way to taste Chester! Gareth Boyd champions our amazing independent restaurants with his fabulous food tours, a super-relaxed and memorable food tasting experience through historic Chester for individuals, couples, social bubbles and small groups – and he has a number of socially distanced Christmas tours already scheduled. And the really good news is that vouchers are valid for 15 months from the date of purchase, so there’s plenty of time to get booked in seeing as we don’t quite know what’s round the corner right now. Vouchers are £120 for two people, £70 for one person – and we can’t recommend highly enough.
The Chester Grosvenor
Ahhhh The Chester Grosvenor, a wonderful mix of history, tradition, nostalgia and one of the most decadent dining experiences in the city. I absolutely adore Chef Simon Radley – a true Chester super-hero – having kept his Michelin star for over 20 years. We salute you Sir. The Chester Grosvenor has been welcoming guests from all walks of life since 1836, and today is a five star haven of superb hospitality with the most stunning bedrooms and suites, a luxury spa and the best food and drink for miles around. A voucher for The Chester Grosvenor is the ultimate gift for someone who has gone over and above the call of duty this year – and with 15% Off until 2nd December – what a treat! 🎁