Being a big fan of cheese and carbs (not to mention Laura herself), Meltdown in Handbridge has stood firm as one of my favourite places to eat in Chester since it opened last year. The curer of hangovers and satisfier of hunger did not disappoint when it was announced they would be hosting a French bistro themed evening.
Upon arrival we’re greeted with a warm welcome and transported to a kitschy French bistro with dimmed lights and candles aplenty. The steamy windows and table setting help set the scene. After finding our seats and making introductions with our neighbours, we’re offered an aperitif while we peruse the evening’s offerings. I opt for a palate cleansing G&T with grapefruit to start the night off. Once settled, we’re given the option of a French Sauvignon Blanc or a Carcassonne to see us through the courses. I’m a red wine gal, so the Carcassonne goes down very nicely.
Our first course is a smoked mackerel pate with homemade pickled cucumber served with toasted crusty bread. The pretty ribbons of cucumber set the dish off and the fresh, zingy flavour cuts through the strong mackerel. The dish is light and well balanced and proof that there’s much more to Meltdown than cheese. Being an awkwardly large group on a long table, we decide to switch things up and move places to keep things interesting.
Our next course is a delicious Roquefort, bacon and spinach salad. The sweet Roquefort and salty bacon compliment each other perfectly, with the sourdough croutons adding a bonus crunch. Who says salads have to be boring?
With the wine and conversation flowing, we move on to the third course – toasties! We each receive a selection of miniature toasties prepared on crusty French bread. The pickled onion garnish is adorably retro, but apparently not to everyone’s taste (so I ate theirs too). The toasties include a swiss cheese and gherkin; goats cheese with homemade chilli jam and, my personal favourite, swiss cheese, frankfurter and mustard. The toasties are delicious as always, but I maybe would have liked to see a little Brie or something in there, in keeping with the French bistro theme.
After ordering an extra bottle of wine (and some of us a fifth G&T…), we’re presented with the cheese course. Glorious slabs of Camembert are served with a tangy, homemade caramelized onion chutney, crusty bread and digestive biscuits. I really like the combination of the sweet biscuit, the pungent cheese and the vinegar tang of the chutney. They compliment each other wonderfully and we’re all fighting over the last wedge of cheese.
We finish off the meal with profiteroles served with a hot chocolate sauce. A French classic! They’re in keeping with the theme and they are very tasty, but I must deduct points for not being homemade (sorry, Laura!), as I love a bit of homemade patisserie.
With our bellies filled and our bills paid up, we set off into the wintery night in search of one last glass of wine before bed with our newfound friends. Meltdown, as always, met our cheesy needs and broadened our horizons a little. At £25 for 5 courses and half a bottle of wine it’s an absolute steal and, with a full house, I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.
Connect with Meltdown on Twitter to keep posted on future events (and book in for their Italian night 18th Jan 2019).