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A weekend visit from a friend in London provided an excellent excuse for an excursion to the recently opened ‘At the Chapel’ restaurant in the quaint market town of Bruton, Somerset.   The cosmopolitan London pal has certain expectations when dining out so I was rather regretting my suggestion that we venture any further than my kitchen, knowing what a struggle it can be to find establishments in these parts to compete with her upmarket standards.  Fortunately, ‘At the Chapel’ rose effortlessly to the challenge.

Entering the vast restaurant – the building was once a Methodist Chapel as the name suggests - we were met by a buzzing crowd.  After a glass of house champagne (my fellow diners went for Prosecco) at the bar and then some brief confusion amongst the staff about who we were, we sat down to peruse the succinct but varied menu and I was handed the wine list which is par for the course when out in company.

The usual mixture of starters (excellent chicken liver parfait with the restaurant’s homemade bread and chutney together with a vegetarian roasted vegetable and toasted seed mélange) prompted a Hunter Valley Semillon which was soon despatched and followed by a carafe of Chablis.  The main courses were beautifully presented and delicious without exception – Pork Belly, a Cep Risotto and my enormous Salmon Fishcake with green beans – and for two of us that was enough.  The London friend’s ever-present sweet tooth got the better of her, however, and she plumped for a lemon panacotta dessert.  Not to be outdone, the rest of us joined her with a carafe of Côtes du Rhône from the excellent 2007 vintage by which time the conversation had loosened considerably!

All too soon it was 11pm and the taxi arrived but the restaurant was still lively and busy and we knew we would be back again, not just for the restaurant but also to buy the excellent bread and pizza from the on-site bakery.  To my great relief, the London friend pronounced herself surprisingly impressed with her venture out into the sticks.