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|Address:||St Botolphs Hall, 35 Spital Square, London E1 6DY|
|Tel:||020 3641 8317|
|Price: £63.00||Wine: £19.00||Champagne: £53.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30 (Fri -3pm) 6-10.30pm (Sun -9.30pm)|
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Relaxing in the smart seats in La Chapelle – the more bistro-esque seating is at the Spital Square end of this eatery of two halves – I find myself trying to figure out what the conversion of this former girls school reminds me of. After conference with my host I decide that it wouldn't seem out of place if the great Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, was at the adjacent table with a starter course of the native and cumbrae oysters, so nostalgically reminciscent are the fronds of the plants, the clean lines of black, glass, chrome of the televised exploits of Monsieur P. Maybe this was enchanced by the bowler hatted gent at the front door and the trad clad waiting staff, who were numerous in number but like taxis on a wet winter's day were scarce in their availability. Essentially that is the only thing one could take issue with here, the service, which was pleasant enough but not attentive enough, particulalry for a lunching city crowd, who keep one eye on the blackberry whilst tucking into the wonderful food on offer. The food is certainly the star and in gazing down the menu, through Pumpkin Veloute and spiced pork belly on the starters I am presented with the best of dilemmas over choice, so appealing is the selection. Similar deliberation issues with the main courses; halibut with artichoke puree, tagine of squab pigeon and the witnessing of the Cote de bouef at the service hatch has me reaching for the diary to plan the next visit. Not wishing to be difficult but I enquire as to whether I can mix and match from the terrifically reasonable Prix Fixe menu (£24 for 3 courses) and am enabled to do so; selecting the Pumpkin and Parmesan soup and pair it with the Denham estate vensison from the a la carte. The soup is silky, flavoursome and offset with a nudge of balsamic which really hits the spot, and am pleasantly surpised to find small cubes of pumpkin lurking at the bottom of my bowl, which add some extra texture. My host opts for the PF in all its glory and assures me the game terrine is sumptious and is lovingly accompanied by the quince puree. This is followed up by the Braised veal cheeks, which looked sensational, and again this was affirmed. My venison was the best I had had for a long time, served medium, with a deeply intense braised red cabbage and a blackcurrant sauce that was fruity but without having dessert like qualities. And talking of afters, there is no let up in the difficulty of assessment; with pear tart tatin, rhum baba and chilled chocolate fondant all competing for a run out. New years resolutions on restricting the intake get put to one side and the Blueberry souffle with coulis and milk ice cream arrives, with obligatory ceremony of making an incision into the souffle and the warm coulis not so deftly handled by the waiter ends up 50:50 between plate and pud. Without doubt La Chapelle will be high on my list for entertaining in 2010, and hopefully beyond, as there is so much that appeals. You would do well to find better quality, and certainly in terms of the Prix Fixe better value for such quality, within the city and that alone is worth the extra hike up Bishopsgate when you to, like our continental sleuth wish to eat and drink which is ‘ a very pleasant thing’.