There was a brief stint of social networking at work via Twitter about Amelie & Friends in Chichester. The blurb understatedly enthused about ‘a new dining experience’ and their blog chronicled the large olive tree that was craned into the back garden.
The owners are not new as restauranteurs. Previously, they were owners of West Stoke House in Lavant for 7 years.
The venue was airy, light and spacious. The colour scheme was minimalistic black and white with judicious use of warm wood (can you tell I am rubbish at describing decor?). I’ve been to this venue once before when it was The Dining Room and I have to say, I’m not sure why Amelie & Friends have decided to underplay the intricate & opulent covings in the beautifully proportionate room. I also question the wisdom of adding the metal lamps to the walls.
There were obvious teething problems like the waiter not realising that we were waiting to be served after we were directed to our table by the woman at the counter. However, we hadn’t been waiting long and he was quite a charming and friendly waiter with a beautiful French accent.
We had already decided on our selection when we were waiting to be seated. Slaveboy went for cappuccino and lemon meringue tartlet and I had heard about their hot chocolate so decided to try that and also their chocolate and dry roasted peanut whoopie pie.
There wasn’t a wide selection of sweet confections and there was an absence of big, decadent, luscious cakes. HOWEVER, none of them looked insipid, anaemic or lacklustre.
This was my hot chocolate. It was brought over by the owner who gently warned that it would be quite hot as it is simply molten chocolate mixed with milk.
As far as hot chocolate goes, it was the best I have had in a food retail outlet. It was dark nectar-like, whipped in consistency, and at the risk of being blasphemous, like hot fudgey chocolate milkshake.
My whoopie pie was delicious. It was moist but not soggy (I get tired of places which try to pass off soggy cakes as moist. Errr, no). The pie bottoms were crispy with nice spongy middles. My favourite was the dry roasted peanut frosting. It was nutty but relatively smooth. And very peanutty. Slaveboy wasn’t too keen on it, saying that he preferred my whoopie pies and SniffSnorter, that is one reason why we are still married after 16 years.
Slaveboy’s cappuccino was a winner. It was actually coffee with a good layer of froth on it. Not an inch of coffee and the rest made up with froth. Other establishments would do well to take the lead from Amelie & Friends.
The lemon meringue tartlet was near perfection. The pate sucree tart case was thin, crisp and beautifully coloured. The lemon filling needed a little bit more zing to it but only marginally and personally I would have preferred the meringue peaks to be a tad caramelised but that is a personal taste thing.
On the whole, it was a very pleasant experience and I would definitely be going back to sample their savoury menu too. I would go a far as giving them 4 out of 5 based on just their food.
There are little details which are minor and easily rectifiable. There seemed to be some confusion with the ordering and paying system and the woman who operated the till did look suitably peeved and sucking lemon-like. It was not obvious (to me, at least) what the ‘new dining experience’ was but really am not fussed about hype Their paper menu list had some spelling errors, misspelling ‘mackerel’ and ‘roquefort’ and there were some misappropriation of punctuation marks on the labels for the food BUT these did not detract from the refreshing quality of their food.