Review : The Secret Garden by Simon Radley

The Secret Garden restaurant in the Oddfellows' hotel. Pic : oddfellows

The Secret Garden restaurant in the Oddfellows’ hotel.
Pic : oddfellows

THE Secret Garden is a unique dining opportunity curated by Michelin-starred chef Simon Radley. The restaurant, which has been been shortlisted for the annual Michelin fine dining awards, is coming to the end of its year long duration. Located within Chester’s luxury five star hotel Oddfellow’s, The Secret Garden allows guests to taste one of the country’s best chefs interpretations of Mediterranean cooking.

Upon entering Oddfellow’s I was greeted by an extremely polite concierge who navigated me to The Secret Garden. Weaving in and out of corridors we eventually arrived at our destination. The restaurant is fairly secluded from other parts of the busy hotel creating a cosy atmosphere. I could still hear the murmurs of the people drinking in the bar next door which was slightly off putting but understandable as it was a Saturday night. There was an acoustic soundtrack provided by the restaurant which was in-fitting with the tranquility of the hotel. The decor was delightful, with various works of art littered around. Overall the design of the restaurant is subtle with lots of intricate details and it is evident that a lot of thought has gone into it.

Simon Radley’s menu is extensive, with a wide range of British classics which incorporate his own Mediterranean spin to create a completely new dish. For my starter I had scallops which were cooked to perfection, they literally melted in my mouth. Combining them with Jerusalem artichokes and clementine was a masterstroke and complimented the buttery texture of the scallops exquisitely.

Next up it was time for the main course. I had Guinea Fowl which was coated in spiced chick peas, chorizo and red pesto. It was divine. The meat literally fell off its carcass and the chorizo combined with sun-dried tomatoes and red pesto was very alluring. It was a masterclass in cooking. I was also pleasantly surprised with the large portion which The Secret Garden gave me. Most a la carte menus focus is on quality over quantity but The Secret Garden got the balance just right. There was enough food on my plate to fill me yet they still provided a high quality meal worthy of its accolades.

My knowledgeable waiter recommended that I tried the salted caramel cheesecake for dessert. It was presented exquisitely but my only gripe is that I wish there would have been more of it. Even for a fine dining establishment which The Secret Garden is, I still expected more than two mouthfuls. This put a downer on what was otherwise a spectacular meal even though I was pleasantly full.

The Secret Garden is a hidden gem amongst the generic restaurants which are scattered across the city of Chester. For those who are looking for somewhere to celebrate or a place to take your significant other on a romantic date, then look no further. The prices aren’t too hefty, just a tad more expensive than your typical restaurant yet The Secret Garden offers so much more. Staff at the gourmet restaurant work like clockwork and they really make you feel looked after.

The Secret Garden is one of the top restaurants in Chester, it’s just a shame it’s only here until the 31st of December.

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