Opera Grill which opened in August is the latest addition to the “dining quarter” on Pepper street. Individual Restaurants who also own Piccolino over the road have invested £3 million into refurbishing the listed building, which was formerly a Methodist chapel, are marketing the restaurant as “the most exciting thing to happen in Chester since the Romans arrived…”
The building dates back to 1836 when it ﬁrst opened as a Methodist Chapel. It then closed shortly after World War One when the building itself was then hidden behind a brand new building, a car garage called “Anchor motor co”. This garage went on to manufacture fuselage and spitﬁre wings in World War Two. In recent years the building has been occupied by various retailers and was last in use by a furniture shop.
The restaurant has 400 seats over 2 floors , with the upper floor housing a music lounge and roof terrace. On our visit we were seated upstairs in the music lounge and were impressed with the grandeur of the setting, with the evidence of the 3 million pound renovation clear to see. From the listed façade with its neoclassical pillars, to the weathered industrial internal décor , Opera successfully blends the old and the new. We only briefly glimpsed the downstairs area as we left, but the central bar is impressive as is the open kitchen area , and the impressive rainbow coordinated produce display.
Opera wouldn’t look out of place in a much bigger city, and to someone quite happy with a pasty from Greggs and a can of Tesco own brand energy drink on a park bench, the opulent and atmospheric surroundings were truly impressive. As the staff, all dressed as if they have wandered in off the set of a Bond film scoot around you, its possible to imagine Bruce Wayne enjoying a cocktail at the bar with Harvey Dent, or Craig Charles tucking into steak and chips (served in a cup).
The effortlessly brilliant band who perform on a Wednesday evening add an extra touch of class to Opera and I would recommend visiting to hear them, although they do play at a loud volume which makes conversation difficult in that part of the restaurant.
The food almost feels secondary to the surroundings here, as elegant and impressive as they are. However my steak was well cooked and accompanied by a rich peppercorn sauce and some crisp chunky chips. The dim light upstairs limited photography and as the mellow sounds of the band played on we just relaxed and enjoyed our visit. The honey comb dessert was nice , and can easily be replicated at home by breaking up a crunchie bar and plating it up.
Overall I was impressed by my visit to Opera and will return to hear the Sunday brunch gospel singers, which is something else that has never been done in Chester to my knowledge. In a crowded restaurant scene, Opera, as its name suggests, adds a touch of the theatre to Chester and offers a memorable dining experience.
Thanks to the staff and management at Opera !