Sunday, April 14, 2024

Chater’s, Saffron Walden, Essex: ‘Guarantees little and utterly overdelivers’ – restaurant overview | Eating places

Saffron Walden is idyllic on a summer time’s day, like a Ladybird Traditional model of how Nice Britain whiles away its balmy weekends: strolling on grassy heaths, shopping vintage shops or shopping for small-batch preserves from the jolly market. Clearly, having watched numerous Midsomer Murders, I think that, behind closed doorways, Saffron Walden is in truth a virulent mattress of deceit and lethal avarice, however on the floor it’s plain beautiful. Simply off the primary buying space sits Church Avenue, a reasonably thoroughfare with but extra vintage showrooms, Grade 1 historic homes and, since late final summer time, Chater’s, an area that does nearly the whole lot in a low-key however deftly curated method.

The pecorino with local honey and Wood Street coffee at Chater’s, Saffron Walden.
Chater’s pecorino with native honey and occasional: ‘Like a chewable espresso martini.’

It’s a form of fancy cake counter/basic retailer that sells beautiful issues akin to bars of Land chocolate, Perelló olives and bottles of their own-label Vault Aperitivo vermouth. It additionally has tables the place you may eat a bakewell tart or an eccles cake and sip on a cortado, or have provolone on focaccia with piquillo peppers for lunch, or, come night time, get correctly caught into their vary of vermouths, in addition to do-it-yourself pastas and a variety of small plates: burrata with orange zest, steak tartare and chickpeas with paprika, as an illustration. That’s to not say you may’t drink the vermouth earlier and order the cake nearer bedtime – the temper appears very a lot to say: do what you want, so long as you’re good whilst you’re doing it.

Max and Máire Chater have been across the London hospitality scene for years in lots of guises, making their names within the metropolis’s bars and eating places, distilling their very own gin, main strolling excursions across the most interesting consuming joints, shifting into vermouth and now, together with Dan Joines, previously of, amongst others, Sorella and Darby’s in south London, combining all their expertise on this fairly, white-brick area in a city that’s the polar reverse of edgy east London. Even so, Chater’s positively has about it a dose of city industrial stylish – it’s a big, ethereal room with few adornments other than these properly spaced tables, although on a Saturday lunchtime it felt very very similar to a cool oasis of calm.

Chater’s’ chickpeas, persillade and paprika starter.
Good chickpeas and paprika characteristic among the many small plates providing at Chater’s. {Photograph}: Emma Guscott Images/The Guardian

Don’t search for bells and whistles, although. There aren’t any. It’s all so completely curated that the standard actually does converse for itself. The menu is an ever-changing single sheet, which once we visited featured recent, heat focaccia with burnt butter that tasted like caramel, posh olives served of their tin with a fork to assist your self, and cubes of pecorino dressed with native honey and floor espresso. Sure, cheese dressed with espresso – and in Saffron Walden, too! – however it labored, with the bitterness sitting comfortably alongside the sticky milkiness, like a chewable espresso martini, however with much less probability of you leaving your bra someplace. There was additionally a home pork terrine with apple, fennel, figs and apricots, plus excellent butter beans in an oily, garlicky dressing topped with whiffy but scrumptious Ortiz tinned sardines. The vibe is straightforward, typically laughably simple – and at all times scrumptious.

The menu at dinner will get just a little extra advanced – that includes the likes of scallops with elderflower and pine, cumberland sausage, leeks French dressing and gilthead bream crudo – however not a lot. If this place was nearer to residence, I’d pop in on a regular basis simply to see what they’d sourced just lately and what the hell they’d determined to serve it with, such because the salami from Sunday Charcuterie in Suffolk that comes with sourdough made on the town by the Mini Miss bakery.

Chater’s radiatori alla vodka: ‘The very epitome of comfort food.’
Chater’s radiatori alla vodka: ‘The very epitome of consolation meals.’ {Photograph}: Emma Guscott/The Guardian

One factor Chater’s is excellent at, although they don’t make a fuss about it, is do-it-yourself pasta. Neglect spaghetti, penne or farfalle: right here they make luscious fats worms of bucatini and serve them in a extremely very respectable cacio e pepe sauce. Plainly nearly everyone seems to be attempting to do cacio e pepe nowadays, and it typically tastes like gritty macaroni cheese, however the Chater’s model was the actual deal and had a pleasant, peppery kick. We additionally had a bowl of quick, ridged bullets of radiatori in vodka and mascarpone sauce that was the very epitome of consolation meals.

The cherry frangipane tart at Chater’s, Saffron Walden.
The cherry frangipane tart at Chater’s is sort of a ‘civil bakewell tart’.

We didn’t really want dessert in spite of everything that, however they’d a bakewell tart, of types, which was actually only one large, thick layer of moist frangipane studded with the odd boozy cherry nearly as an afterthought (ie, the proper dimensions for a civil bakewell tart), in addition to an enormous, heat milk-chocolate cookie that was fantastically sticky within the center. Charles drank a can of Vault Aperitivo negroni whereas I sipped a blackcurrant-leaf spritz and neatly completed off the bakewell, questioning if I presumably had room for an eccles cake, too, as a result of it got here with Lancashire cheese. Chater’s guarantees little and utterly overdelivers. It’s presumably fairly bizarre for Saffron Walden, however I’ll take bizarre over boring or leaving hungry any day.

  • Chater’s 17 Church Avenue, Saffron Walden, Essex, Open lunch Weds-Sat, noon-2pm; dinner Thurs-Sat, 6-11pm. From about £22 a head for 3 programs, plus drinks and repair

  • Grace Dent’s new guide, Consolation Consuming: What We Eat When No One Is Wanting, is revealed in October by Guardian Faber at £20. To pre-order a duplicate for £16, go to

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