UNINTIMIDATING fine dining is what the 1699 Brasserie promised and it delivered a relaxed and pleasant evening to myself and my colleagues when we arrived after a busy day at the local newsface.

On stepping over the threshold of the recently-opened brasserie, located in the Chester Townhouse in Lower Bridge Street, we were given a warm welcome and shown to our seats.

The décor is simple and uncluttered and the staff, while attentive, are happy to let diners enjoy their meals and conversations.

The menu, curated by chef team Jamie Leon & Carl Powell, offers three to four choices for each course. Not as varied as other eateries, but it seems the decision has been to focus on a number of tried and tested dishes, made with local Cheshire and Welsh produce, prepared well.

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What is on offer is the taste, quality and finesse of fine dining without the fuss and pretence.

After ordering our starters, some fresh-baked bread rolls arrived which got the meal off to a promising start.

I opted for the pressing of Cheshire ham with homemade piccalilli and crisp ciabatta. The crispy bread and the sharpness of the piccalilli provided a perfect contrast with the generous but not overwhelming serving of ham.

My colleague Steve went for the carrot, orange and coriander soup - which he said was very tasty and set him up perfectly for his hearty main course.

My other colleague Mark, meanwhile, plumped for the goats cheese and honey bon bon, complemented with quinoa, garden beetroot and balsamic dressing - a combination which had enough tangy flavour to whet the appetite for what lay ahead.

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Then it was on to mains.

I opted for the carved Welsh lamb rump with roasted garlic parmentier potatoes, celeriac puree, charred carrot and rosemary jus.

The server advised me that the chef recommended that the lamb was served pink, which is just how I like it.

The meat was plentiful and well-cooked, with the accompaniments balancing the meal perfectly.

Steve plumped for the time-tested favourite of a juicy 28-day dry aged sirloin steak, which was cooked just as he asked for it.

The meal came with hand cut chips which were perfect – fluffy in the middle and crispy on the outside (I know because I pinched a few!) – as well as Wirral watercress and mushrooms.

Mark went for the oven baked breast of chicken dish which had the perfect accompaniment in wild mushroom sauce, with generous side servings of English asparagus and potato fondant and buttered spinach which maintained its fine taste.

With the dessert menu, we were spoilt for choice.

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I opted for the trio of flavoured crème brulee, with the promise of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla conjuring up taste memories of Neopolitan ice cream from childhood birthday parties gone by. The desserts were rich with the chocolate being the stand out, ending the meal with a warm, velvety richness.

Steve chose the banoffee cheesecake with sugar-glazed banana, which he described as “beautifully presented and equally delicious”.

Mark decided to go for the chocolate and orange panna cotta dish which, while wonderfully presented and had a pleasing texture, did not quite match the top-quality standards the previous two courses had set for flavour and taste. It was nonetheless still a satisfying way to round off the meal.

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After dinner, we retired to the lounge and had a few more drinks. The atmosphere was quiet and chilled, a great option for people who don’t like shouting to be heard over thumping music or jostling for position to be served at the bar.

The venue could become a little gem for local people who want a drink or a meal before going to the theatre or for those from further afield wanting to enjoy a city break.

In addition to the brasserie, the Townhouse offers accommodation and, being several glasses of wine and a cocktail to the good, I was happy for a comfy bed for the night.

The rooms are surprisingly spacious for a city centre hotel decorated in a modern style.

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For a hotel in the heart of the city, it was reassuringly quiet and I enjoyed a good night’s rest to sleep off the three-course feed and accompanying drinks.

For the city centre, the price of a room at the Townhouse is reasonable, especially when considering how close it is to the best of what the city has to offer.

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