Dine out in a 19th century gothic chapel: Chapel 1877 – Churchill Way, Cardiff

The exterior of Chapel 1877 on Churchill Way, Cardiff

Credit: Chapel 1877

It’s not often you get the opportunity to dine out in a 19th century gothic chapel. Sitting in Chapel 1877 recently, staring up at the intricate stained glass windows and the colossal chandeliers, I felt like I was sat in the dining hall at Hogwarts. 

Built in 1877, Chapel was originally known as Pembroke Terrace Chapel; the mastermind of Henry C. Harris, a young architect from Penarth. The design was very daring for its time, challenging traditional Welsh non-conformist customs.

After the Second World War, church membership fell and congregations merged, causing the building to fall into decline. Following a short stint as an architect’s office in the 1980s, the building began to deteriorate.

The interior architecture at Chapel 1877 Bar & Restaurant, Cardiff

Credit: Chapel 1877

Fast forward to 2008, when owner, David Bevan bought the chapel and set about refurbishing the Grade II-listed building with the aim of retaining its original character and charm. The plaster was scraped back to reveal authentic brickwork, while the looming glass arches were transformed into defining features; the finishing touch taking the form of two enormous antique chandeliers.

The chandeliers in Chapel 1877 Bar and Restaurant, Cardiff
Today, Chapel 1877 has to be one of Cardiff’s fanciest restaurants and it’s quiet, intimate atmosphere makes it the perfect go-to for dinner with your other half. Or, in the case of a sad singleton like myself (*cue the violins*), my best friend. 

With an emphasis on fine dining, the evening à la carte menu features a selection of eight sumptuous starters,  ranging in cost from £3.50 for marinated olives all the way up to £9 for pan-roasted scallops. Main courses (ranging from £17-19) consist of classic British dishes made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients like pan-fried Anglesey sea bass fillet and roast St. Sever free range chicken breast, alongside steaks (£23-29; all beef is from Welsh and Cornish cattle, dry-aged for 28 days) and veggie options costing no more than £14, like Wye Valley asparagus risotto and wild mushroom ravioli. To round all that off, choose from several indulgent desserts priced from £6.50 to £9, including green tea-infused crème brûlée and summer berry Pimm’s pudding. 

We skipped starters and ploughed straight on through to our main courses. I succumbed to the roast rump of Welsh lamb, perfectly pink and juicy, served with a neatly formed cube of potato gratin, courgette ribbons and pea and mint fricassee (£18). This was completely flawless; the lamb was tender and tasty, the potato gratin was flavoursome and well-seasoned and the veg was crisp and fresh. Furthermore, the portion was ample and I wasn’t left with a rumbling stomach, wondering what’s to eat for the next course, which is only too often the case in fine dining restaurants.

Welsh rump of lamb at Chapel 1877, Cardiff

Opposite from me at the table, my friend Sarah tucked into Parma ham-wrapped monkfish served on a mound of fragrant saffron and pea risotto. This was the Catch of the Day dish, which can be enjoyed with half a bottle of wine for just £15 (on Mondays and Tuesdays only). I’m not usually very keen on monkfish because I’m a bit squeamish about certain kinds of fish and seafood and I find that monkfish can have a somewhat ‘fishy’ taste, but the Parma ham definitely enhanced the flavour. Thick and creamy in texture, the risotto had a fragrant, comforting taste and the portion was rather generous.

Parma ham-wrapped monkfish on a bed of creamy risotto, Chapel 1877 Cardiff
For dessert, I couldn’t quite make up my mind as to what I wanted so I opted for the trio of rich dark chocolate tart, tonka bean ice cream and pistachio praline (£7.50). And what an excellent decision that was! The chocolate tart was thick-set with a bittersweet taste and although it may have been too sickly to eat on its own, it was complemented beautifully by the spicy vanilla tones of the tonka bean ice cream. Tonka beans are becoming more and more popular in the world of fine dining; last year, I tried a tonka bean pannacotta at Laguna Kitchen and Bar at Park Plaza Hotel. Finally, with a texture alike that of crunchy honeycomb, the pistachio praline took the form of crushed pistachio nuts mixed with caramel to produce a nut brittle, before being smashed up into tiny fragments. 

Chocolate tart, tonka bean ice cream and pistachio praline
Sarah was so intrigued by the sound of the green tea-infused crème brûlée, she had to order it just to discover what it was like. At first impressions it looked just like a traditional crème brûlée, served in a small, round dish with a firm golden brown layer on top. However, a subtle hint of green tea introduced a fragrant, sweet and almost grass-like flavour to this time-old dessert favourite. 

Green tea-infused creme brulee
I really enjoyed my first visit to Chapel 1877 and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Cardiff has a number of decent fine dining venues, but for me, Chapel’s setting in a 19th century gothic chapel really helps to give it the edge. The prices are roughly on par with Cardiff’s other fine dining venues; depending on what you order, you’ll be looking at paying between £30-£50 per head at Chapel 1877, with drinks. However, before you go, it’s definitely worth checking the website for up-to-date promotions and set menus for special events. The Catch of the Day deal on Mondays and Tuesdays will get you a set fish dish and half a bottle of wine for just £15, while there’s a 5-course gala dinner including a flight of Rioja wine on 18th August for just £39 per person.

Chapel 1877 Bar & Restaurant
Churchill Way
Cardiff
CF10 2WF
(029) 2022 2020
www.chapel1877.com

I was invited to Chapel 1877 as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary; however, I was not obliged to write a positive review.

Have you ever been to Chapel 1877? Where’s the most luxurious place to dine out in your local area?

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47 Comments

  1. August 1, 2016 / 11:48 am

    What a beautiful location, I’d love to dine in such a place, definitely not something everyone can say they do! x

    • August 1, 2016 / 12:21 pm

      It truly is a beautiful place to dine, a real step-up from most other restaurants I know of!

  2. August 1, 2016 / 1:22 pm

    How utterly fantastic is this venue! I would love to eat here. Great review

    • August 1, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      I bet you’d love it too 🙂

  3. August 1, 2016 / 2:29 pm

    What an amazing place to go out for dinner too, and the food looks amazing too x

    • August 1, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      Thank you, I was delighted to be invited to Chapel 1877 🙂

  4. August 1, 2016 / 3:03 pm

    This looks like an amazing place to eat! The surroundings are incredible! x

    • August 1, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      Thanks Charlotte, I agree 🙂 Lucky to live so near to it.

    • August 1, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      Thanks Candice. It’s definitely a very luxurious place to eat!

  5. August 1, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    Beautiful lighting, It look an amazing place to eat. xx

  6. August 1, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Oh my god the setting of this restaurant looks amazing, it really makes me want to go back to Cardiff just for this! x

  7. Emily Rose
    August 1, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    This certainly looks like a very unique dining experience I’ll have to check it out if I ever visit Cardiff!

  8. August 1, 2016 / 10:03 pm

    I love creme brule so I would be interested to note whether this green tea version is just as good!

  9. August 1, 2016 / 10:53 pm

    This certainly looks like a unique setting – I LOVE the chandelier and your food looks lovely. x

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      Thanks! The chandeliers were definitely very glamorous!

  10. August 2, 2016 / 3:15 am

    Oh that is such a cool place! I think I’d love going in for a special meal!

  11. August 2, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    I have just had lunch, but here I am, salivating.

    I love it when old buildings get repurposed rather than left to rot, AND the food looks great – two birds one stone?

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      Me too, I know the feeling 🙂

  12. August 2, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    That cake looks amazing! Never heard of this place but I love the idea of dining in a gothic chapel. Spooky…

    Ashleigh x

    http://www.beingashleigh.com – UK fashion, lifestyle and travel blog

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:04 pm

      It definitely makes for a different kind of dining experience, it’s not just your average, run-of-the-mill restaurant and it’s nice to check out somewhere new too 🙂

  13. August 2, 2016 / 4:47 pm

    I’ve walked past this place so many times and been tempted. It looks gorgeous from outside. So nice to see that the inside meets expectations. Nom!

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      Me too, it was my first time here and I can’t believe I’ve never been before. Definitely recommend popping inside next time you’re passing 🙂

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      Definitely, this place would be perfect for a date. If a guy took me here, I’d be like putty in his hands! 😀

  14. August 2, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    Wow looks amazing! I’ve never been before but it looks like a special place to eat at.

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:00 pm

      It really is; would be the perfect place for a date!

  15. August 2, 2016 / 6:46 pm

    This place looks incredible and the food to die for!

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:59 pm

      Thanks, I think you’d like it here 🙂

  16. August 2, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    Oh WOW! Now that looks delicious! I would love to go there just for the food! The dessert looks so gorgeous

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:59 pm

      The food was lovely, but the surroundings are what really makes this restaurant so special. It really is something else!

  17. August 3, 2016 / 4:01 am

    Wow! The food here looks pretty special but the surroundings are absolutely spectacular! xxx

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:55 pm

      Definitely; this is what I loved so much about having dinner here.

  18. August 3, 2016 / 10:18 am

    This looks fantastic and the food looks amazing!

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      Thank you – it tasted fantastic as well 😀

  19. August 3, 2016 / 1:36 pm

    Wow what a gorgeous place to eat – I need to visit x

    • August 4, 2016 / 1:02 pm

      I really think you do 🙂

  20. August 3, 2016 / 2:32 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous building! The food looks fantastic also, I am just gutted it is so far from where I live. I would really like to visit it. x

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:54 pm

      I’m sure you’d love it here… every city needs a chapel converted into a restaurant – it just works so well!

  21. August 3, 2016 / 3:11 pm

    My husband works near here so has visited quite a bit but I’ve never been. It looks gorgeous inside and the food sounds lovely! I’ll have to convince him to take me!

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:53 pm

      You will definitely have to persuade him to take you there – I’m sure he won’t regret it either, the food is lush!

  22. August 3, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    What a stunning building and the food looks devine, not sure there are any posh places to eat here!

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:53 pm

      It really was beautiful, we couldn’t stop looking around ourselves at the stunning architecture 🙂

  23. August 4, 2016 / 12:26 am

    Wow what a lovely location for a restaurant. It looks lovely in there and the food looks soooo good 😉

    • August 4, 2016 / 12:52 pm

      Thanks Melanie, it really is different to most restaurants I dine out in!

  24. September 1, 2016 / 11:11 pm

    It was really good there, such a beautiful restaurant. Definitely worth a visit 🙂 Glad you found the post useful!

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