One of the Best Restaurants in Kent
Restaurant in Kent
As far as modern fine dining restaurants go, Chapter One is a touch out of the ordinary – being neither a voguish urban townhouse nor a rustic country retreat. In truth, its location on a busy road connecting the Kentish towns of Bromley and Orpington is rather inauspicious. But rest assured, the food is anything but.
Intelligent cooking and spot-on service- AA Inspector.
With its additional options of the relaxed brasserie and popular terrace, Andrew McLeish's upmarket venue has wide appeal. The more formal restaurant sets a refined tone with its crisp linen tablecloths and vibrant gastronomic artwork on the plain white walls. Deceptively spacious with wood floors, dark blue furnishings and pale blue panelling, the decor is contemporary and comfortable.
Long established and well supported by the locals, the ambience is chatty and friendly, with well-drilled waiting staff in formal black waistcoats and aprons. Whether you go for the carte, or the wallet-friendly menu du jour, McLeish strikes an inviting balance between assured modern European cooking and the desire to offer value. There is an obvious understanding of classic techniques and the dishes are finely tuned favourites rather than trying to reinvent things for the sake of it. Seasonal ingredients from a network of high-end suppliers mean that the menus change all the time, depending on what’s best at the time and what arrives in the kitchen. Chicken and girolle mushroom ravioli with onion Lyonnaise, chicken and celery jus makes for an arresting starter, as does treacle-cured salmon with soya sesame dressing and chargrilled spring onions. Main courses bring further evidence of intelligent flavour combinations, perhaps tandoori monkfish with curried cauliflower purée, sautéed spinach, roasted cauliflower and cumin sauce or roast guinea fowl, potato gnocchi, hispi cabbage, roasted sweetcorn and smoked guinea fowl jus. Desserts continue the form with an indulgent peanut parfait, double chocolate brownie, Kentish raspberries and raspberry sorbet or a poached blackberry and passionfruit mille-feuille with blackberry sorbet. And if there’s still room, the English and French cheeses with fruit toast, Lavroche crackers and spiced apple chutney is hard to resist. Time a visit, perhaps, with one of the restaurant’s popular gourmet evenings.
AA Restaurant Guide 2022
"On top form again" – chef Andy McLeish has run the kitchen at this culinary beacon near Orpington for more than 20 years, and purchased it with a business partner five years ago. Long an "outstanding destination” on London’s southeastern fringe, it is now "absolutely humming – both food and service very good and the tables well spaced”. "You’re always assured of a top food, service and ambience experience, for lunch or dinner".
Great British Chefs 2022
Recent renovations have only increased support of this "busy and buzzy" local venue that does the old-fashioned things supremely well.
Good Food Guide 2021
Andrew McLeish's relaxing venue sees crisply linened tables and gastronomic prints set a refined tone. He has struck a nigh perfect balance here between assured contemporary cooking with plenty of surprises and a pressing need to offer value.
AA Restaurant Guide 2020
Back to its best - long-time chef Andy McLeish and his business partner purchased this well-known site in late 2017, and have re-established it as one of the major destinations on the fringes of south east London and beyond.
This long-standing restaurant has many regulars; its wide-ranging menus offering keenly priced, carefully prepared modern European dishes. Cooking is light and delicate, mixing classic and modern flavours. The property dates from the 1930s and there are subtle references to this period in the elegant décor.
MICHELIN Guide’s Point Of View 2019
Keen out-of-town prices combined with pleasingly elegant decor, capable service and clever cooking make Chapter One well worth a drive down the A21. Chef/patron Andrew McLeish fashions all-manner of worldly-wise dishes from top-drawer materials and the result is vivacious Michelin-starred food with a high degree of culinary technique. The kitchen deals in exquisite plates loaded with big, bold flavours: starters of braised veal tongue with pickled shallots and sauce gribiche or mackerel rillettes with scorched cucumber, Greek yoghurt, horseradish and mustard ‘frill’ might give way to crispy cod brandade with poached egg, braised oxtail with salt-baked celeriac or Josper-grilled Ibérico pork shoulder and braised cheek with roasted carrots and roscoff onion. "McLeish also uses venison he has personally culled”, says one who knows. The bread is "to die for”, while appealing puds might include milk chocolate and praline mousse with hazelnut cream and raspberry sorbet. With "first-class service” and sommeliers on hand to help with food-matching selections from the extensive and "fairly priced” wine list, Chapter One is "great every time".
Square meal 2019
Strikingly refined cooking in an out-of-town hotspot.
AA Restaurant Guide 2018
This landmark restaurant is relaxing and stylishly designed. Long-standing chef Andrew McLeish's forward-thinking but generally restrained cooking displays obvious talent.
Good Food Guide 2018
Long standing restaurant with many regulars. Wide-ranging menus offer keenly priced, carefully prepared modern European dishes; cooking is light and delicate, mixing classic and modern flavours. Assured service.
Michelin Guide 2018
Fine quality, out-of-town dining producing food that's imaginative and respectful of its ingredients.
Harden's Guide 2017
Keen out-of-town prices combined with pleasingly elegant decor, capable service and clever cooking make Chapter One well worth a drive.
Square Meal 2017
Andrew McLeish's cooking pleases, excites and soothes in equal measure
Good Food Guide 2016
Chapter One is a world-class restaurant in the most unexpected of places, but it all makes perfect sense once you've crossed the threshold. Andrew McLeish has been executive chef since 2000 and has turned this little corner of suburban Kent into one of Greater London's premier dining destinations, one of the best restaurants in Kent.
AA Restaurant Guide 2015
Chef of the Year - Kent is a fantastic area to be in, one of the best in the UK. It is easy for a chef to use Kent products and we don't have to work too hard to find suppliers who are also passionate about what they do. more..
Kent Life Jan 15
I am a firm believer that happy animals produce great quality meat. Therefore, for me to work with a great supplier I need to be sure that quality and animal welfare is of the highest standard more..
Kent Life July 14
We found a very handsome, buzzing restaurant - it would not look out of place in Mayfair - with friendly atmosphere and great acoustics, even during busy service. more..
Tatler June 14
Chapter One is about as classy as things get, and a top staging post if you're doing business in Croydon, Bromley or Dartford, or heading back into town from Dover or Folkestone. more..
Country & Town House March 14
Our Chefs behind the Chefs series goes to Michelin-starred Chapter One in Locksbottom, Kent, where Dean Fergason has progressed from chef de partie to Andrew McLeish's trusted head chef during their 13 years together. more..
Caterer & Hotelkeeper Feb 14
We want to make it completely field to fork. So many chefs advertise themselves as field to fork, but we do it as much as we can, it's a passion. more..
Kent on Sunday Feb 14
We were keen to try the Michelin-starred Chapter One, which people have been telling us about for yonks (the restaurant has a sophisticated loyalty programme that includes a glass of champagne after you sign up). We found a very handsome, buzzing restaurant - it would not look out of place in Mayfair - with a friendly atmosphere and great acoustics, even during a busy service. From the homemade bread to the scholarly wine list and all the points in between, chef Andrew McLeish's Modern British cooking is robust but elegant. He has a penchant for game and small birds.
Tatlers 'Best of Britain' Restaurant Guide 2014
With a Michelin star to its name, this Orpington restaurant serves up well-cooked British dishes perfect for a special occasion. Fear on starters such as warm salad of local wood pigeon, cured ham, damsons and cobnuts. more..
The Sun on Sunday Dec 13
Classically trained Ritz and Chez Nico, Andy McLeish has completed 13 years at Chapter One, where he aims to be "as consistent as we possible can". A game enthusiast, he hunts and butchers much of the game served in the restaurant, so aim for an autumn or winter visit. more..
The Sunday Times Nov 13
Andrew McLeish is Chef Patron of Michelin Star Chapter One restaurant in Locksbottom and Director of Blackheath Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant Chapters. Working his way up through prestigious kitchens including The Ritz and The Dining Room at the Landmark Hotel, he became executive chef director at Chapter One in the year 2000. more..
The Guide Resident Oct 13
Andy McLeish, who has been cooking at this roadside restaurant for 14 years now, has a hefty, old-school CV (Chez Nico, The Ritz, The Landmark). So he knows his way around a pithier and a puree, and his menus feature truffles and lobster in season, but there's an honest earthiness about his cooking, and the smart-looking waiters are friendly, not starchy. Starters include ravioli of oxtail with onion lyonnaise, and a croquette of pig's head with chestnut espuma; mains of pain-fried hake, guinea fowl and pork belly come with classy; highly seasonal accompaniments. It seems odd to see USDA ribeye on the menu next to Chart Farm venison. McLeish takes great care over provenance so perhaps its his personal preference?
Country and Townhouse magazine March 14, by Sophie Dening
A philosophy of exceeding expectations in unexpected places. Refreshingly, and unlike other establishments of similar credential, this extends to the price as well as the pedigree of Chapter One's menu.
The Bromley Times
I can say, hand on heart, Chapter One was nothing short of dining perfection.
The verve and precision of the cooking, with every dish tasting strongly of its ingredients, and the friendly service explains why the locals as well as refugees from London fill every available chair at Chapter One.
The Sunday Telegraph Magazine
A gastronomic landmark in Kent's commuterland since 1996, this striking building is still a favourite with local foodies who relish its tempting cocktail of smart cosmopolitan surrounds and serious food at local prices. Much depends on Andrew McLeish's cooking, which is supremely accomplished.
AA Restaurant Guide
Chapter One is my top gastronomic find of the year so far. The head chef, Andrew McLeish, trained with Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico and has inherited all the great man's virtues. His cooking combines vertiginous sophistication with fabulous flavours; the beauty of his creations doesn't mean that he skimps on taste.
John Walsh - The Independent
In a nutshell, what we have is a Michelin starred restaurant serving truly exceptional food at prices that would have the average high street chain worried. Located near Bromley, it's within easy reach of the M25 on the Kent/Surrey border, making it an especially realistic proposition for those who live south of the river. Read more
"Beautiful" dishes with "complex flavours" continue to win a huge following for this well-established "suburban oasis"; almost all of the many reports speak of "consistently high standards" and "excellent attention to detail".
"The doors open onto a realm of striking contemporary design and top level culinary experience. Andrew McLeish started out his culinary career with Nico Ladenis, so classical ways are deeply ingrained in his consummate technical skills, enlivened by a leaning for modish ingredients and wow-factor presentation. Meals climax with desserts that have a definite x factor. What's more this is all priced very keenly."
"Chapter One has become a landmark for local foodies. The surroundings may please, but the main attraction is Andrew McLeish's supremely confident and technically assured cooking. Prices are a world away from W1 overkill. At lunchtimes (Sundays excepted) you can eat even more affordably in the brasserie.
Good Food Guide 2012
West End quality food well below West End prices from Chef Andrew McLeish, has carved out a huge reputation for this superb 'stalwart' - an unusually notable destination by suburban standards.
Harden's UK Restaurant Guide 2012
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Against an unfussy modernist background, it's in the business of delivering user-friendly food and drink right through the day. Helpful staff keep the mood upbeat, and the kitchen makes its mark with a raft of British and Euro-inspired dishes.
Good Food Guide 2012
If Chapter One had a W1 postcode, it would be one of the most coveted tables in all London. Instead, like Bruce Poole at the legendary Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, Michelin starred Andrew McLeish thrives on delivering a local restaurant de luxe of superlative all-round calibre that transcends expectations of neighbourhood dining. And it offers phenomenal value too.
On a buzzy Saturday evening, there's a definite air of anticipation and sense of occasion in the chic modern dining room. Yet refreshingly, unlike in many West End restaurants, the tables are so well-spaced that eavesdropping on salacious gossip is out, even for those who find that more appealing than concentrating on salivating over a creative and alluring menu which offers so many enticing dishes, choosing is a real challenge. What's more every starter was a hit. Deceptively simple velvety rich Jerusalem artichoke veloute redolent with freshly shaved Perigord truffle (not mere truffle oil) comes with impeccable gnocchi. And, there's no stinting on luxury ingredients to add to the sense of treat at Chapter One restaurant in Kent, despite its extremely reasonable pricing. It does make you wonder what some restaurants are up to. Smoked eel is a stylish visual treat served with a smoked eel take on brandade and ultra-light croquette and vivid beetroot cubes. Like perennial favourite, the pheasant salad, a lovely delicate Spring dish. As the truly serious foodie in our party, as ever I gravitated immediately to the most edgy starter on the menu the compressed pig's head that, despite its description, even the more squeamish gourmet would enjoy. It came as an innocuous looking but deeply flavoursome "terrine" with crispy chitterlings and chestnut foam - an outstanding original dish worth travelling far for.
Mains surpass expectations too. The tone is set by a sophisticated fish choice of halibut with lobster too, chanterelle mushrooms and hazelnuts, again the kind of luxurious dish more often found on a two or three Michelin star menu at eye-watering prices. I liked too a witty and different grown-up surf and turf special: black bream with perfect clearly in-house made oxtail ravioli. Simpler dishes are equally pleasurable. There's nothing more delicious than beautiful, pearlescent cod that flakes as it should, served with a sublime truffled silky mash with generous truffle shavings on top, which compared favourably with iconic chef Joel Robuchon's legendary pomme purée. At the other extreme and demonstrating what an all-round pleaser Chapter One's menu is, a full on carnivore's dish of belly of pork with exemplary crackling and such good sauerkraut seconds were requested and brought with a smile. The staff do mostly manage that fine balance between friendly and professional and importantly knowing the menu inside out too.
To properly appreciate the scope of desserts, plump for the fully monty assiette. Incredibly, this includes a full half dozen desserts in miniature including melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant worth fighting for a stake in, an elegant shot glass of layers of coffee and amaretto trifle, tasters of both the baked plum and banana desserts on the a la carte, and an ultra refreshing lemon and creme fraiche sorbet.
Sudi Pigott - author of the best seller "How To be A Better Foodie"
Despite the many Michelin-starred gourmet bolt holes scattered throughout this country...and the notable advancement of the British food scene over the past decade, there is still much talk of not being able to find a decent restaurant outside of London and our other major cities. Of course there are exceptions big name chefs who have gone for it in the sticks, and gentrified culinary clusters like Ludlow and Bray but a common complaint among foodies is the lack of good, affordable local restaurants which pull off what they're doing with precision, flair and zeal. Chapter One in Locksbottom, Kent is one such hidden gem.McLeish's cooking style is modern European, with its roots very much in the classical, but he's a chef who really cares about provenance, and is clearly passionate about communicating that. He's proud of his restaurant's location in the garden of England, and he shows it using as much produce as possible from the surrounding area of Kent.
When I arrive on a Saturday lunchtime the dining room is full, lacking the stuffiness that so often comes with Michelin-standard food, which I suspect has much to do with the incredibly affordable menu that McLeish is offering here. At £4.50 per starter, £14 per main course and £4.50 desserts, or a three course menu du jour for 18.50, its a steal.
McLeish cooks with care - not just in his attention to detail, but in terms of his ingredients. My delightfully piquant mackerel escabeche - which is fast becoming a signature dish, and a favourite among regular diner Gary Rhodes - is made with the abundant oily fish rather than the usual red mullet because of the latter's increasingly scarcity.
Considering the fair-pricing, its good to see that the portions are so generous, and my main course of sea bass is a vast hunk of fresh, fleshy fish, accompanied by a wonderful, almost-floral celeriac remoulade, flecked with lobster and given a pleasing crunch by some toasted hazelnuts. It's a gorgeous combination. My partners steak is a hefty, bloody ribeye with a deep, charred flavour and sumptuous flesh, served with a copper pot of indulgent black truffle potato puree.
Restaurant in Kent Reviews
AA Restaurant Guide 2011
A gastronomic landmark in Kent's commuterland since 1996, this striking building is still a favourite with local foodies who relish its tempting cocktail of smart cosmopolitan surrounds and serious food at local prices. Much depends on Andrew McLeish's cooking, which is supremely accomplished and full of up-to-the-minute strokes but also sits easily on the palate.
The Good Food Guide 2011
Top notch food without having to make a journey up to town - the concept that's won a gigantic following for this fabulous Kent stalwart, one of the very best restaurants on the fringes of the capital
Harden's UK Restaurant Guide 2011
Chapter One is a cutting-edge contemporary restaurant in both its design and its culinary approach. The fine-dining room is a series of shimmering spaces created by the use of beaded curtains against a low-lit backdrop of deep, rich cherry, chocolate and cream tones. Andrew McLeish's cooking tacks to the classical side of haute cuisine, but with a modern sensibility for quality ingredients and swish presentation.
AA Restaurant Guide 2010
In a nutshell, what we have is a Michelin starred restaurant serving truly exceptional food at prices that would have the average high street chain worried. Located near Bromley, it's within easy reach of the M25 on the Kent/Surrey border, making it an especially realistic top proposition for those who live south of the river. Chapter One is truly one of life's luxuries that we can all afford
Chapter One is my top gastronomic find of the year so far. Hats off to Mr McLeish and his talented team. What are you waiting for? " JOHN WALSH INDEPENDENT ON SATURDAY
Chapter One is both an outstanding local restaurant and a culinary experience worth travelling for. If you're looking for affordable, consistent and lovingly well-executed food in relaxed but smart surroundings, you could do a lot worse than making the visit to Locksbottom." ROSIE BIRKETT IS A FREELANCE FOOD WRITER AND REGULARLY WRITES FOR THE
Altogether Chapter One is getting all the ingredients deliciously and exceptionally right, perhaps the epicentre of desirable eating in London has finally moved South-East after all. So whether you're a new customer, an apologetically lapsed regular or committed Chapter One aficionado it's definitely timely to reserve a table now . Quite frankly this is a restaurant that has no equal for simply miles around" SUDI PIGOTT WRITES REGULARLY FOR TIME MAGAZINE, AMERICAN EXPRESS CENTURION MAGAZINE, THE LONDON MAGAZINE AND MANY OTHERS
"Despite the many Michelin-starred gourmet bolt holes scattered throughout this country, and the notable advancement of the British food scene over the past decade, there is still much talk of not being able to find a decent restaurant outside of London and our other major cities.
Rosie Birkett for The Guardian
Chapter One is both an outstanding local restaurant and a culinary experience worth travelling for. If you're looking for affordable, consistent and lovingly well-executed food in relaxed but smart surroundings, you could do a lot worse than making the visit to Locksbottom.
The dining experience is elegant and grown up and the food matches this theme. With kitchens run by Andrew McLeish formerly of The five star Landmark Hotel and The Ritz, it is not difficult to see why Chapter One is a hit with both locals and out of towners, particularly as there is also a private dining room for parties which can manage up to sixty people for drinks.
Harden's UK Restaurant Guide 2009
Everything a good restaurant should be - this classy operation is all the more worth knowing about.Andrew McLeish's cuisine would be a special treat anywhere, though, and it has a huge following.
AA Guide 2008
Chapter One is home to Andrew McLeish's much acclaimed cooking. The front door opens to a world of refinement, from the spacious dining room with its new metropolitan styling and serene pastel tones, to the suave, professional and welcoming service. McLeish's confident and accomplished cooking aptly suits the surroundings and takes a Modern European approach based on classical techniques, with dishes displaying plenty of innovation alongside distinct flavours, balanced combinations and high skill.
Harden's Guide 2008
An 'expensive-looking renovation' in early 2007 has further boosted acclaim for this now more svelte-looking establishment, where Andrew McLeish's 'surprising' and absolutely superb' cusine' deserves to be meaured against the stars of the West End.
Good Food Guide 2008
The suburban half-timbered exterior of Chapter One belies the glamorous new interior with shimmering silver window treatments, dramatic red lampshades and chic chocolate walls, yet the restaurant remains astonishingly - shout-from-the-rooftops-good value for food and service of such verve and finesse.
AA Guide 2007
Mcleish's confident and accomplished cooking aptly suits the surroundings and takes a modern European approach based on classical techniques, with dishes displaying plenty of innovation alongside distinct flavours, balanced combinations and high skill.Quality ingredients are certainly handled with consummate integrity.The menu reads like central luxury with suburban prices - lunch offering fantastic value at this level.The wine list shows admirable pedigree too
Square Meal 2007
Chapter One remains our top choice for dining out in South-East London. What makes the journey worthwhile is the warm welcome from the staff, the fair prices and the exceptional cooking. The wine list is well thought out and offers an admirable choice by the glass and half bottle. All in all, a taste of top-end fine dining way out in the suburbs
Good Food Guide 2006
Chapter One is home to Andrew McLeish's justly acclaimed cooking, which uses prime ingredients in novel and purposeful ways. The range of choice among main course dishes is cheering indeed. Desserts are no less creative with blood orange trifle, chocolate marquise with kirsched cherries.
AA Restaurant Guide 2006
The front door opens to chic refinement; from suave and welcoming waiting staff - who successfully mix friendliness with real service - to the spacious, elegant and stylish Metropolitan-style dining room. Expect grand cru cooking and evolved classics from the talented Andrew McLeish. His modern-focused style, based around classical techniques and dishes, displays innovation, consummate technical skill and wonderfully distinct flavours and balanced combinations.
The cooking competes with some of London's best restaurants.
Good Food Guide 2005
A restful place given over to seriously stylish cooking in the modern French mode. Andrew McLeish has imported a lustrous sense of polish to what he does.
Harden's Guide 2005
A top-notch West End restaurant in the suburbs. Chapter One is a well-established suburban oasis whose excellent-value, modern cuisine has won an enormous following.
Elfreda Pownell, Sunday Telegraph Magazine
The verve and precision of the cooking, with every dish tasting strongly of its ingredients, and the friendly service explains why the locals as well as refugees from London fill every available chair at Chapter One.
Within minutes every chair is filled in the long, low dining room. There are two reasons why it's so packed; first, the skill of the chef Andrew McLeish, who trained at the Ritz; and second, the keen pricing.
Peter Birnie, the AA's Chief Hotel & Restaurant Inspector, on Chapter One winning the coveted title of AA Restaurant of the Year for 2004
Chapter One is a restaurant with a winning formula, serving exceptional food at highly accessible prices. Andrew McLeish's dishes display distinct flavours and a lack of fuss and are well balanced, with great value menus that include plenty of luxury ingredients.
West End style modern-European cuisine at suburban prices.
Lucy Parks, South East London & Kentish Mercury
Imagine the best restaurant you have ever been to. Now forget it and go to Chapter One.
Restaurants serving fine food at reasonable prices are hard to find so Chapter One is a rarity
Time Out Magazine