Buried in the Somerset countryside in the little town of Bruton sits the Grade II listed chapel now known as At The Chapel. The former church has been respectfully resurrected. Its breathtaking renovation praises the original features - high ceilings, towering windows, flickering candles and communal seating on some of the larger tables. In 2008 it was baptised as a restaurant and bakery, and five years later expanded to run eight guest rooms.
The restaurant, At The Chapel, is a marriage of local and European, championing local West country produce, but with a Mediterranean twist of elegance and effortless flair. In place of the altar rests the bar, whilst at the entrance of the chapel stands the wood-burning oven producing far more than communion bread.
Entering the former chapel you cannot resist stopping to admire its glorious setting. It would be a sin for the food not to live up to its unique surroundings. However, you will not be disappointed. The food is equally deserving of glory. In fact, on arrival, our starters of calamari fritti with a lemon aioli, and Laverstoke Park Farm mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil, were so tempting they were gone before I could even take a photograph!
The fritti were a mixture of baby squid and rings, delicately battered and crisp. The citrus aioli kept the dish fresh and light. The mozzarella was divine, creamy with a tangy finish and the vibrant fresh tomatoes were juicy and ripe to compliment the aromatic basil.
Next I had the Westcombe ricotta gnudi with sage, parmesan and pine nuts. The gnudi were fluffy and cloud-light but with a salty richness from the cheese and textured with crispy fried sage leaves and warm roasted pine nuts for added depth.
The slow cooked shoulder of Wiltshire Downs lamb with tzatziki and flat bread was highly praised and undoubtedly our favourite dish. The shoulder was falling apart and melting with aromatics, herbs and spices of a full flavoured curry, all mellowed by the refreshing tzatziki and humble flatbread. Simply divine.
The Castlemead Farm chargrilled chicken, with lemon, thyme and aioli kept a crisp, charred skin but remained light and moist inside. The classic pairing of lemon and thyme was full flavoured and summery.
And from the wood fired oven we ordered the taleggio, field mushroom and thyme pizza, as well as the pizza adorned with anchovies, olives, capers, melted onions.
The bases were light and crisp, whilst the toppings were vibrant and comforting. Both delicately balanced their natural saltiness with the rich, fresh tomato sauce.
Dessert was baked vanilla cheesecake with spiced cherries. This was wonderfully fluffy and vanilla sweet. The cream cheese and spiced cherries provided notes of sharpness and spice, complimenting the baked classic wonderfully.
The chocolate and beetroot cake with clotted cream was surprisingly light and moist. The background depth and richness provided by the beetroot was lovely, however I would have loved a hint of raspberry or some spice in the cream to give the dish yet another layer of flavour.
At The Chapel is a truly charming and special place, with such special food to match. And after all that food it was time to go out and explore the surrounding countryside!
I am an amateur cook blogging about the food I eat and cook, and my travels along the way.