Leg three of our Somerset scoffathon took place at At The Chapel, a 17th century former Congregational chapel on Bruton High Street, where a large group of us gathered on Saturday night for Dave’s big 30th birthday celebration.
A truly incongruous, but utterly spectacular addition to Bruton, it combines bakery, wine shop, café, bar and restaurant in a space that merges central London with sleepy Somerset and somehow gets away with it.
At The Chapel must be one of the most elegant and unusual restaurant spaces in the country with huge church windows, high ceilings, virgin white walls and contemporary art works that include a female Christ-figure suspended on the wall above the bar and a ‘hanging baubles of Babylon’ chandelier that catches candlelight by night giving a mystical, other-worldly effect.
Opened in 2008 by former Café Med owner Catherine Butler, At The Chapel was designed by architects MacKenzie Wheeler and is currently being extended to include a balcony area, garden and south facing patio out back (roll on summer), as well as rooms – part of a new boutique hotel strand to the business.
But it’s not all style and no substance and At The Chapel more than delivers on food, which it takes seriously, sources locally and handles skilfully using a real wood-fire oven for its fabulous selection of bread and pizzas.
Our evening started downstairs, in the bar, where we kicked off proceedings with impeccably made cocktails such as Whisky Sours (made properly with egg whites), Moscow Mules and Mohitos. I never go to bars this cool or edgy in London, so it was a real treat with cocktails priced at Somerset rather than London prices, despite their flair.
Upstairs, enormous platters of antipasti arrived with a uniformly high quality selection of goodies to pick at: soft, delicate tasting mozzarella, finely sliced parma ham and salami, gherkins, juicy black olives, homemade houmous, artichoke hearts and freshly baked slices of crusty bread to mop it all up with.
Groaning and full after a long day of eating, we were slightly alarmed to hear that 15 pizzas had been ordered for 14 of us, but the wood fire oven had worked its magic rendering pizzas as wafer thin and perfectly crispy as those found in a real Italian pizzeria. (NB – Had we not been such a large group, the menu also offers dishes such as Laverstoke Park lambs liver, Chargrilled mackerel and Rib-eye steak, which I’d like to come back for another time).
But the pièce de résistance and final shot of gluttony was still to come: pink cupcakes, baked and iced by Dave’s little sister Beans that afternoon. We couldn’t manage them all, but – testament to the lovely staff at At The Chapel (is there anything they haven’t got right?) – those left were packaged up in white paper boxes pinched from the bakery, all ready for us to take home at the end of the evening. It was the perfect end to a perfect day and one which I hope to repeat again very soon.
P.S The snaps I took on Saturday night didn’t come out very well, so Dave went in the next day to take some proper ones by daylight, hence the higher than usual calibre of photos in this post. You can see more of his work here.
At The Chapel
T: 01749 814 070