Hey Lovelies, it’s time for a spot of lunch!
As you can see, we’ve reached ‘C’ in our alphabetical tour of Chester and I suppose now would be a good time to address the ever growing cafe-culture in the city.
I’ve mentioned in previous courses the purpose of this series is to give readers a good idea of where the good independent cafes/coffee shops/restaurants are in Chester. It has become a sort-of dark joke amongst local Cestrians that any new development going on in Chester will no-doubt involve the opening of a new coffee shop. Usually a Costa Coffee or Cafe Nero; Chester has more chain coffee shops than it knows what to do with.
With so many chain coffee shops around, you’d think it would make things difficult for independent cafes and coffee shops to succeed against them. Thankfully the independent brands seem to remain a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, meaning fabulous local food rightly gets its chance to shine against the uniform, overpriced, unoriginal brands that you can find anywhere in the country.
Speaking of local food, we’ve been focusing on some heavier meals of late. I think it’s time to change direction and talk about light-bites and lunchtime treats…
C is for The Cheshire Sandwich Company
There’s a lot to be said for the humble sandwich.
We all know the 18th-Century tale, the 4th Earl of Sandwich ordered meat tucked between two pieces of bread, his friends all ordered ‘the same as Sandwich’ and there it is said our love of the sandwich began.
In reality I suspect sandwiches had been popular in other cultures centuries before this event occurred, but regardless of its origins, the sandwich is still a global favourite for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Walking around Chester town centre, you’ll find plenty of sit-down restaurants, coffee shops and cafes offering heavy, filling foodie treats, all wonderful if you fancy it, but what if you don’t want to have a chicken and asparagus risotto in Carluccios, or if you’re bored ordering the same panini and flat-white combo at Costa?
If you’re anything like me, you start exploring the side-streets. Sounds ominous, but it isn’t, trust me…
I’ve used Godstall Lane as a shortcut to the rows and Eastgate for years, but I’ve always tended to walk past all the shops/restaurants/cafes along it. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I was walking along, hungry and slightly pushed for time before having to go to work; I saw a sign for The Cheshire Sandwich Company on the wall next to the stairs leading up to the rows (and onto Godstall Lane), and decided to check it out.
For those of you who don’t know Chester well, Godstall Lane is named ‘the Romantic Heart of Chester’, though I’m not entirely sure why, I DO know it is one of the few remaining medieval lanes in Chester, linking St Werburgh’s Street and Eastgate. It has changed a lot since those days, but still attracts tourists to it’s picturesque shop windows nestled in bunches of ivy and strings of fairy lights. Hidden amongst the foliage is The Cheshire Sandwich Company, providing delicious sandwiches, salads and cakes to Cestrians and Tourists alike.
So the first time I visited, I sat in the cafe space upstairs. As I’ve said before, the rent in Chester is pretty high, so shop/restaurant space can be pretty small, this place is no exception. That said, they comfortably seat larger parties and families in addition to couples all at the same time. We were greeted by incredibly friendly staff, and waited on promptly following our arrival.
When it comes to ordering, the menu at the Cheshire Sandwich Company is pretty huge. It shoves the basic sandwich fillings to one side and replaces them with the likes of Parma Ham and Mozzarella, the Cheshire Bauru toastie and Salmon and Cream cheese (traditional fillings are still available of course, but you get the idea). The menu has a good selection of meaty and meat-free sandwiches, in addition to toasties, salads and homemade soup for the winter months.
Eventually I decided I wanted the Chicken BLT on white bread (sorry mum) with a lovely bottle of Peckforton Sparkling Water to wash it all down. I thought it was really cool how the servers have little tablets to send table orders downstairs (the cafe is upstairs), it’s just a little different and unique in comparison to other cafes, it also saves the severs from having to run up and down the stairs for a little bit (they all must have legs of steel!).
Like all good sandwich places, your sandwich never comes on a plate totally alone. Each one is served with an accompanying salad garnish, homemade coleslaw and a handful of Pipers salted crisps to properly complete your lunch.
While there is the option to sit inside, they also cater for those intending on dining alfresco, providing picnic baskets for afternoons in the Grosvenor Park (handy for the Open Air theatre when it comes around) and is even able to cater for larger events, providing a gazebo, chairs and so on. I’ve mentioned before in previous posts about how small kitchens seem to be in certain restaurants, but I have to say The Cheshire Sandwich Company has the smallest one BY FAR, it amazes me they manage to cater successfully for take-out and eat-in customers, fitting 3 people behind the counter at one time making drinks, sandwiches and cutting huge slices of cake and still remaining so cheerful.
The awesome thing about independent cafes and restaurants is the fact that they tend to love supporting other local businesses. It makes sense for them to utilise the produce around them instead of buying everything from some big wholesale warehouse somewhere miles away. The Cheshire Sandwich Company is no exception to this sourcing cheese from The Cheese Shop on Northgate and cakes from Hel’s Kitchen which is handy if you feel like re-creating your lunch at home sometime.
I suppose then it’s time to talk cost. Sandwiches and toasties can cost anything from £3.85 to £5.50 (eat-in or take-out) and salads range from £4.55 to £6.40 which is huge value for money when you see the mountain of food you receive!
Overall I’d say The Cheshire Sandwich Company is a perfect alternative to the mundane, overpriced chain cafe/coffee shops we’ve got so used to dominating our high streets. This place provides excellent food, good value for money and wonderful customer service (I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever known a more cheerful cafe owner in my life), and its a welcome threat to the oh-so-dominant Costa, especially in Chester.
If you’ve tried The Cheshire Sandwich Company, or if you have any suggestions about where I should review later on in the series, comment below and let me know!
Till next time,
P.s. Catch up on the last ladle of Alphabet Soup here!