Thursday, 24 July 2014


Last week I was invited to come and try Chapel Allerton's newest venue, The Woods.

Opening earlier this month, the three floor venue hosts a restaurant, bar and stage area for film screenings and live music. With the food being my main area of interest I had a look at the menu before accepting and was intrigued by what was on offer.

The menu is large, which for some can be off putting. However, the Woods specialises in dishes cooked using a wood fired oven, there are plenty of options for wood fired meats, fish and pizzas, with a section dedicated to vegetarian affair. They also serve brunch every weekend and a weekly Sunday lunch.

Arriving at around 7.30pm, the restaurant on the second floor was busy but not full. We got to choose a table and sat down. The waiters were eager to take our orders immediately but we sent them away twice before we even managed to get through the whole menu!

First up is wine. We went for a bottle of the house red, a French wine called Soubremont Domain Merlot Grenache (£12.00). This was served quickly, however it was not poured into our glasses or asked to be tasted but just meekly plonked on the table by the very shy waiter.

The wine was good. Perfect temperature, nice and well... I'm no wine conniseaur. It was certainly quaffable and that's always a good thing.

We set down to ordering our starters and our mains. I went for the Mini Cured Meat Board (£2.90) off the bar snacks/tapas menu whilst my friend ordered the Mozzarella, Tomato with Basil Leaves (£4.50) from the starters menu.

The Mini Cured Meat Board was indeed rather twee! Served on a small wooden platter was one slice of salami, one and a half slices of chorizo and a slice of prosciutto. These were drizzled with oil and a sprinkling of rock salt, but served lonesome with no bread. Considering that tapas is usually based around the concept of sharing, this wasn't exactly ideal. Luckily I was dining with a vegetarian.

The Mozzarella, Tomato with Basil Leaves also took us by surprise. We were expecting something along the lines of a Caprese salad with sliced fresh mozzarella, but what was served was a stack of chopped, skinned tomatoes with hard mozzarella cubes, a single basil leaf and a drizzle of infused oil. It was moulded and stacks on the plate, with a little bit of a collapse on arrival.

On to our mains. We both ordered pizza at the same time as we ordered the starters. We waited a total of fifty five minutes before our mains came and that was a good forty minutes after the starters, with our dirty plates removed just as the mains were served.

Arriving at our table were two 12" wood fired pizzas. I ordered the Smoked Mackerel, Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic and Basil (£7.90) - I ordered mine without cheese due to a mega cheese fest that had ensued that week. I also genuinely really like and in most cases prefer a pizza without cheese. The base was spot on, light but not soggy. This was a very nice pizza indeed and the interesting toppings were warmly welcomed as I have never had smoked mackerel on a pizza before.

The veggie got excited over the toppings that came on his pizza with Garlic Wild Mushrooms, Thyme, Artichoke, Lemon, Parsley and Pecorino Cheese (£7.90). As with mine, the base was crispy and light with a good crust. The flavours were all there and it made for a hearty feast at a good price.

We also ordered a Seasonal Leaf Salad (£2.50) on the side. This was also unfortunately forgotten and brought to the table after our mains were served.

We finished our mains and went straight to the pudding menu. Obviously we had to try the Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream (£3.50) and we opted to try their Vanilla Cheesecake (£3.50) too.

The puddings were hit and miss. First up was the cheesecake... the texture was rather unpleasant so we quickly left this and moved on to what was a winner! The brownie was warm, fudgey, dense and packed full of walnuts. Served with a scoop of proper vanilla ice cream and a toffee sauce this was very good indeed.

An overall interesting experience at The Woods. Service was not great but it also wasn't terrible. They have only been open a few weeks and as with all new venues and restaurants these are the toughest few to get things right.

I would be interested to return to see how the menu's differ as they change to reflect each season, as well as to see the service progress.

Have you been down to The Woods?

Disclaimer: I was invited to review this restaurant with a complimentary meal for myself and a guest, however all the views within this review are my own honest opinions.

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