The place for divine dining

The Church Restaurant in Bridge Street.
The Church Restaurant in Bridge Street.

For some heavenly dining try The Church Restaurant in Northampton.

This unique town centre restaurant was opened by The Richardsons Group in 2005. I have dined there on a number of occasions and the food and service has always been superb.

The Church is situated at the bottom of Bridge Street in the town centre and has a colourful and interesting past.

The restaurant’s website reveals how it started life as St John’s Hospital in 1138 and since its origins as a hospice it also been a soldiers’ burial ground, was confiscated during The Reformation, became part of the town’s first railway station and was re-consecrated as a Catholic church before becoming the bar and restaurant it is today.

Formerly known as St John’s Church, it is Grade 1 listed and the oldest secular building in Northampton.

Its transformation has seen the building retain its original character but has a contemporary and chic interior. The Mezzanine is a superb design feature and you can see the interior in all its glory from this lofty position.

We have only praise for the food and service and setting at The Church which, when it comes to enjoying fine dining, will be the answer to any food lover’s prayers.

If you are eating out on a budget or want to enjoy some fabulous food before an evening show at the nearby Royal & Derngate, then you can opt for the reasonably priced fixed price menu, dine for a dozen.

As this suggests you can enjoy this elegant setting and sample fabulous food for just £12 per person for two courses.

But believe me you will want to opt to pay just a few pounds more and go for the three course option for £15.50.

There are restrictions when opting for this menu as it is served from midday to 7pm, but it is an ideal introduction to try the excellent cuisine offered at The Church and although there are a limited number of menu choices, it gives a great taste of what you can enjoy on the usual menu too.

There is still enough variety to suit all appetites and tastes.

The menu options do change regularly and we had a mouth-watering range of great dishes on our recent visit.

There are four options for each course which includes a vegetarian choice.

To start we had the flavoursome Chicken and Duck Liver Parfait which was served with a tomato and onion chutney and crusty bread.

The other hit on the starter options was the superbly delicate and filling Cherry Tomato and Feta Tartlet served with rocket and red onion salad with a pesto dressing.

This tart was melt in the mouth and as with all the portions was generously sized.

Everything was presented beautifully too and the service was quick and efficient.

For our main courses we went for the comfort food option of the meaty Sausage and Mash served with onion and red wine gravy.

There were two huge sausages served on a bed of fluffy mash, again the portion was large and fabulously filling and the sausages were superb.

Our other favourite was the succulent Beef Bourguignon. The meat was soft and fell apart and this dish had incredible flavours. It was served with mash potato and savoy cabbage.

There was also a veggie option and a fish option too, so enough variety to keep everyone happy.

We were too tempted not to indulge in a dessert once we had seen the options on offer.

The firm favourite was the sinful but superb Sticky Toffee Pudding with a toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The sponge was light and the sauce was fantastic, a real hit.

You can always opt for a lighter option of ice-cream or sorbets but we decided to go for the Winter Berry Cheesecake served with Chantilly cream.

This colourful culinary creation was packed with fantastic fruit flavours and was the perfect end to a perfect meal.

The dine for a dozen menu offers excellent value for money and means you can indulge without a guilty conscience.

By Amanda O’Hare