First things first: we’re big fans of the mighty Kentish vineyard near Tenterden – having visited many times.
But, against the odds, we’ve never quite warmed to Chapel Down’s less welcoming King’s Cross outpost, no matter how excited we were to see it open nine months ago.
A quirky site over three floors, it originally boasted a couple of bars, gin distillery, outdoor terraces directly overlooking the Regent’s Canal, and the star turn, foodie restaurant: surely a no-brainer instant hit for the thousands of sybarites who hit N1C on a nightly basis.
And yet it’s often been quiet when we’ve popped in for a drink; on our last visit however, a Thursday night, we were told by the barman that the restaurant had suddenly closed. The place was empty, so it sadly didn’t come as a huge surprise, especially as most venues across Granary Square and Coal Drops (including newcomer Arabica, where we had just eaten) were jam-packed.
We dropped Chapel Down a line to ask what’s happened. “In our upstairs restaurant space we will no longer be offering a daily full service food menu,” says spokesperson Jess Phillips enigmatically, “but the restaurant will be available for Christmas group bookings and private functions, and we are currently developing an exciting new programme of activity for next year.”
She then reassured readers that they will, of course, “be offering the best cocktails (and bar snacks) in town from our main bar and our gorgeous upstairs cocktail bar.”
And an emphasis – as the venue’s name suggests, lest we forget – on gin. “Helga, our 150-litre copper still is now fully operational,” she says, “and we plan to produce small-batch craft gins on site throughout the year to serve from our bars, alongside a series of gin experiences.”
So, if you want a libation or three, the venue is definitely open. Let’s hope it’s better suited to being a watering hole rather than the intended dining destination.