Food Quest: Chez Jules, Chester

Chez Jules, Chester

OK, so I have to admit: French food is not really my thing.  I love France, having travelled there many times, but other than the fabled Croque Monsieur I could take or leave the grub.  Or most Northern European food, for that matter.  Typically, I much prefer more exotic fare.

I was to be pleasantly surprised by Chez Jules, however.

The restaurant has been offering French meals for many years, though I have never visited before.  I was tagging along in a family party.  Chez Jules was immediately impressive with its continental style and warm welcome.

We were visiting on a Tuesday evening, when Chez Jules offers a pretty unbeatable offer: two courses and a bottle of wine for just £17.50 each.  That’s a whole bottle of wine, to myself.  With two courses of food.  Absolutely crazy.

The menu changes regularly, but appears to offer a wide variety of temptations.  For my entrees, I opted for pork rillettes, served with caramalised onion chutney and toasted French bread.  That didn’t mean much to me, but I can tell you I was reminded of pate in style.  As always with pate, I ran short of toast – however the excellent staff had provided bread for the table, so I hoovered that up as well.  Fantastic start.cj1

For the main, or “plats de resistance”, I ordered a pork, apricot and sage roulade, with potato puree and red wine jus.  Think along the lines of a little dome of pulled pork.  This was an exceptionally tasty centre for my meal.  “Jus” turns out to be like gravy, which was a bit of a relief as I was slurping the (very good!) red wine too easily.  I think I was worried that Chez Jules would realise their offer was ridiculous and would want their wine back.

The main courses were accompanied by vegetables (potatoes, broccoli, carrots etc) – plenty to be shared amongst us.  This was the only part of the meal that left me under whelmed – I’ve never been a fan of vegetables of this type.  No fun at all.

However such is the standard of French (and English) food, so to be scathing here would be like complaining in a Mexican restaurant that they don’t do fish’n’chips.  Plus the dauphinoise potatoes were pretty fine.

To finish my meal off, I couldn’t resist a dessert.  I had a chocolate and raspberry confection – it was like a mousse – served with creme fraiche.  This was new to the menu, me being the guinea pig.  And I could have pigged  out all day on this, it was wonderful!

My visit to Chez Jules left me very happy and somewhat surprised.  The food, though not my personal choice, turned out to be extremely good.  The Tuesday night deal was unbelievable value and the staff were professional, yet friendly and down to earth.  I would definitely visit again.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: Confusing menu choices but you can’t go wrong – very tasty.  Even the vegetables!
  • Drink: I drank red wine.  No complaints what so ever.  Bargain.
  • Service: Professional and friendly.
  • Cost: Go on a Tuesday.  Surely the best value ever?!

Chez Jules, 71 Northgate Street, Chester CH1 2HQ

01244 400014

The Chez Jules website is here.

Food Quest: Quay Fine Dining

Quay Fine Dining, Connah’s Quay

A family gathering provided a recent opportunity for my second trip to Quay Fine Dining.  The restaurant is located at the top of Connah’s Quay near Morrison’s supermarket, on the site of what was once known as the Top Kwiks.

Also, incidentally, very near where a young Platinum Al (only aluminium in those days) spent some of his childhood years.

The casual bigot may be confused at the idea of “fine dining” in Connah’s Quay.  However I will proudly declare that this town deserves some respect, and indeed a quality restaurant.  The first thing that strikes the eager food lover when entering Quay Fine Dining is just how smart the interior is: up to date, modern, clean and luxurious.  It’s really quite spell binding.

The menu is largely Indian, with Thai and Greek options available also.  On this particular visit, I opted to stick to an Indian theme.  This began with the classic, if obvious, couple of popadoms (together with the usual chutney accompaniments).

Before taking this gastronomical journey any further, I should point out that Quay Fine Dining is not a licensed restaurant.  But you can take along your own booze (which the staff will very kindly keep cool for you if desired).  This means that the night out can work out reasonably cheaply, but you must plan this well!  More on this later…

For our starters, Mrs Platinum Al chose chicken chaat puri, which was “lovely”.  I tried some and can confirm that is was very good indeed!  My own choice was chicken pakora, not something I have had very often.  I made a good choice, it was excellent.

There was quite a wait between courses, unfortunately.  As we were the only group in there at the time, I’m not sure why this was.  This also meant that I ran out of drink before my main course arrived.  Yes, I had somewhat underestimated the amount of booze required; though regardless the time between courses was a bit much.

Eventually the main courses arrived, and Mrs Platinum Al was very happy with her choice of chicken tikka shahi.  This is one of my favourite Indian dishes, though I had picked something different.

My choice was chicken shashlik, a dish I have enjoyed elsewhere in the past, but not ordered for a very long time.  I just felt that this would be a good choice.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s an impressive meal, brought sizzling to the table.  The side salad/garnish was a bit limp and superfluous, but the dish was very tasty and highly recommended.  My only mistake was ordering keema rice to go with the meal, there was plenty enough to eat without it (the dish is also served with a very nice curry sauce).

In conclusion, Quay Fine Dining not only offered a wide variety on the menu, it was also able to deliver a superb standard of food.  Plan your drink right and you’ll be rewarded with a very fine dining experience indeed.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: a massive choice, and from experience – great quality food without being over faced.
  • Drink: not licensed, so take your own.  No problems if you plan ahead.
  • Service: slow between courses, but the staff are exceptionally helpful and friendly.
  • Environment: visually impressive, modern and – dare I say it – extremely elegant.  Classy.
  • Cost: regardless of whether you save a few quid with the drink situation, the meals are very good value.

Quay Fine Dining, Ffordd Llanarth, Deeside Shopping Centre, Connah’s Quay CH5 4UP

01244 836565

The Quay Fine Dining website is here.

Food Quest: The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak, Kinnerton

It was a family affair at the Royal Oak in Kinnerton, so off Mrs Platinum Al and I went to sample the culinary delights.  My Dad’s birthday was the occasion, and there were a few of us out for a pleasant time and good food.

The Royal Oak itself is a quaint, very attractive traditional pub – plenty of wooden fixtures and a damn fine array of ales.  Lager, too – for the yobs like me.  It’s a welcoming atmosphere, and an ideal venue for a cosy winter pint.

For our food, we were seated in the nearby dining area.  Again, spacious and also bright.

Mrs Platinum Al ordered Chinese belly pork with noodles for her starter.  This was delicious (I’m quoting here), and although rich, could have made an excellent main course.

My starter was a chorizo, black pudding and tomato salad, though I asked for the mushroom dressing to be removed.  This was replaced by a perfectly adequate non-mushroom based dressing.  I hate mushrooms.  The starter was excellent, very tasty.  It wasn’t a massive portion, it was just right – which is surely a good thing when there’s plenty more food to come.

Our mains were a burger with cheese and bacon for Mrs PA, which was served with chips and lots of salad.  This too was extremely good, and a lot to eat!

I opted for a chicken, gammon and leak pie.  This was a great choice, the pie not only filled the entire plate but was really good.  It tasted excellent; the chicken was in large chunks, and the sauce full of flavour.  The pastry was well made and there was plenty of it – I wasn’t left with a plate of pie contents with no roof.  The pie was served with large chips – these were OK, though to be honest I’m a skinny fries guy.  Also there was a huge dish of peas to accompany the pie – I found this a little strange having another totally separate plate.

All in all however, the meal was excellent.  Regular readers will know that generally I prefer more exotic dishes than traditional British fare, however I found the meal to be delightful.  It would be nice to see a wider variety of different food on the menu (and less mushrooms), but in all honesty, that wouldn’t be in keeping with the manner of the Royal Oak.  Traditional food here is far from familiar and boring, it is both plentiful and full of flavour.

One final commendation for the Royal Oak must go to the staff: they were all very friendly, patient and helpful.  An exceptional job.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: solid traditional meals that are well prepared and tasty, good portions
  • Drink: good variety of real ale and lagers to cover all tastes
  • Service: Exceptional
  • Environment: traditional country pub atmosphere, the real deal
  • Cost: not cheap but worth it

The Royal Oak, Main Road, Kinnerton Lane, Higher Kinnerton CH4 9BE

01244 660871

I can’t find any web page or social media for the Royal Oak.  If you go, please tell them to get online!

Food Quest: The Palomino

The Palomino, Connah’s Quay

Welcome to the frontier, the Wild West of Connah’s Quay.  No, the Quay isn’t that wild – but there’s a taste of the Big Country at The Palomino.

Once it was the Wepre Inn, now it’s reborn as The Palomino.  A Western themed bar and restaurant that’s decked out in all manner of cowboy paraphernalia.  There are life size statues of cowboys and Indians (including a full size John Wayne on a horse); dreamcatchers and pictures on the wall; plus numerous models of Native Americans and what not all over the place.

I think it’s very cool.  The very first time I went there, they even had Clint Eastwood classic Hang ‘Em High showing on several television screens around the room.

There’s an extensive menu that covers a wide range of steaks, burgers and hearty meals to fill up any gunslinger.  There are of course salads and vegetarian options for the weirdos.  Plenty of drink choices too, though sadly no Sam Adams or Brooklyn lager – they would’ve been more suitable.  I tried Kozel, a Czech beer, which was very nice (though sadly not cold enough!).

On our most recent visit, Mrs Platinum Al opted for the Chicken Espetada.  Never heard of this before; it’s pretty impressive.  Two large chicken and veg kebabs hang vertically down from a metal support over the plate.  Served with chips and salad, It looked great and the smell was enticing.  Luckily I got to try some.  I loved it, one to try next time.

For my own choice, I went for the full rack of ribs.  A massive plate was served to me, with chips, salad, coleslaw and corn on the cob.  The ribs were extremely tender and fell apart nicely, delicious sauce too.  Despite the vast amount of food, I made a valiant attempt and finished nearly everything – leaving just the corn half eaten…

Speaking for myself, I really enjoy going to the Palomino.  The food has always been good, with large portions and a good choice on offer.

Of course, what makes The Palomino unique is the decor.  You can see from the photos here what the place is like.  Unfortunately, I hear that the place is having a make over soon – so there’ll be no more Western memorabilia.  This makes me very sad.  Like a cowboy who’s had to shoot his lame horse.

I’m sure the food will continue to be great.  It’s just a shame that such a fun, different venue won’t be the same.  If you want to experience The Palomino as it is, better saddle up soon.

Food Quest Test

  • Food: a wide range of American style food, plus trad favourites, and large portions.  How about a Man vs Food style burger challenge?!
  • Drink: good range of beers, American beer like Samuel Adams and Brooklyn Lager would be great though.
  • Service: good, not perfect, but cheerful.
  • Cost: good value for large portions.

The Palomino Bar & Restaurant, Wepre Lane, Connah’s Quay CH5 4JR

01244 811122

The Palomino website is here.

The Palomino Facebook page is here.