By Andy Hayler
The Chancery has been running since 2004. It is tucked way in a quiet street off Chancery Lane, with smart décor but fairly small tables.
From summer 2014 its new head chef has been Graham Long, who after rising to the position of senior sous chef at Pied a Terre, moved to Hong Kong for two years to work at St Betty. Three courses were priced at £46.50, and there was also a seven course tasting menu for £68.
The wine list had around 75 labels, ranging in price from £17.50 to £187, with a median price of £58 and an average mark-up of three times the retail price, which is pretty normal for London these days. Examples were Vinedos Monfil Garnacha 2010 at £28 for wine that you can find in the high street for £7, the lovely JJ Prum Spatlese Wehlehner Sonnenuhr 2004 at £82 compared to a shop price of £26, and Etienne Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 2008 at £115 for a wine with a current retail price of £37.
The bread was made from scratch in the kitchen and was excellent, with good crust and lovely texture. It frustrates me when high-end London kitchens buy their bread in and claim that they “do not have room” to make it themselves; the kitchen at Chancery is tiny and the bread here is streets ahead of anything that can be found from a London baker (easily 16/20).
Salad of carrots, radiccio, black quinoa, crème fraiche and coriander was nicely presented and enjoyable, the quinoa providing a contrasting texture to the creme fraiche. However there are limits to how thrilling this dish can be given the quality of carrots that we get in the UK (14/20). Better were enjoyably sweet raw hand-dived scallops with avocado cream, cucumber jelly, sesame filo crisps and shiso (perilla) dressing. The gentle spice of the shiso went well with the scallops, the sesame crisps balancing the dish textures (16/20).
Halibut with laverbread crust came with roast cauliflower, cockles and nasturtium. The fish was carefully cooked and the cauliflower good, though personally I can never get that excited about cockles (14/20). I preferred ash-crusted venison loin with crapaudine beetroot, walnuts, dates and dried goat cheese. The venison was cooked pink, though I have had better quality deer elsewhere, but the beetroot was excellent and the walnuts again showed the attention of the chef to carefully balancing textures (15/20).
Fresh clementines came with mochi, jasmine tea custard, pistachios and vanilla ice cream. The sharpness of the clementines provided a nice foil for the custard, and the overall combination of flavours worked well (15/20). Poached Yorkshire rhubarb was served with a mousse of fromage blanc, cranberries and gingerbread. This was a lovely dessert, the rhubarb combining well with the mousse, and the ginger flavour just lifting the dish (16/20). The coffee after dessert was a little bitter to my taste, though I gather that there are plans to change the blend used.
The bill, with just a couple of glasses of champagne to drink, came to £67 a head; service was excellent. I was impressed with my meal at Chancery tonight – dishes were quite elaborate but each element on the plate had a reason to be there, presentation was pretty and the flavour combinations worked well. The place was very busy even on a wintry Tuesday night, and I can see why.