CHESTER: Visiting Chester - Foodie travel feature. PUBLISHED 06/24 The Mail

 Chester! The Gourmet’s Guide for Racegoers

This incredibly beautiful city is just 40 minutes from Manchester Airport and 45 minutes from Liverpool Airport, and it is home to the famous historic Chester Races. If you are travelling from Ireland to bet on the GeeGee’s, there are a few culinary spots you won’t want to miss.


If you have an hour to two to spare, get a closer look at the city on a Taste of Chester walking tour. Learn about the many Tudor buildings on the high streets and find out more about the city’s ancient history. The tour is informative and offers a social food experience that not only stretches your legs but also shows you the many historic sites, landmarks, and independent food outlets the city has to offer. You might even learn more about the term Gee-Gee and how it is associated with racing. (It is thought to be traced back to Henry Gee who raised the first horse racing course in Chester in the 1500s.)


Coffee, Snacks and Cakes!

For the coffee connoisseur, don't panic, Chester has you covered. Down a little lane, in a courtyard in the heart of Chester city, you will find the gem of Chester's bakeries, Koolaburra. Along with great coffee, there’s a vast selection of world-class pastries with an Australian twist. This artisan micro-bakery is run by Jessica Reynolds, an Auzzie who fell in love with Chester just a few short years ago. She still hand bakes most of the cakes herself so it’s very likely you will see her in the shop working away. @kookaburra_bakehouse

Chester Cheese Please 

Chester is famous for cheese so fit in a cheese tasting event from The Cheese Shop Chester, and stop yourself buying all of the 200 different cow, goat, and ewe cheeses on sale in the shop. A key supplier to many restaurants in Chester, their cheese tasting events sell out well in advance, so check their site for details. Don’t leave the shop without trying the great selection of local Meade. If you were led to believe Meade was sickly sweet and only made with honey, then this will be an eye-opener. Think light, bright flavours like elderflower and pomegranate. You can even try some delicious chilled, sparkling Meade.  Cheese tasting from £20 @thecheeseshopchester 

The Ultimate Wine Cellar

Located in Chester's historic 13th-century crypted cellars on Watergate Street, Vin Santo is a wine merchant and bar, serving a wide variety of exceptional labels. Try to book a wine tasting here, as it's informal and tailored and hosted by the owners themselves. Wine tastings can be booked for a private group or join the public ones for £25:

Plant-based and farm-fresh:

The latest addition to Chester's burgeoning food scene is restaurant Twenty-eight. It’s brought hyper-seasonal farm-to-table dining to Chester with an emphasis on sustainability and an ever-evolving menu. Partnered with a Cheshire-based farm, Growing at Field 28, (a family-run urban farm in Daresbury) the menu mirrors the farm's seasonal growing schedule as part of the restaurant's commitment to supporting local agriculture and minimising food waste and their carbon footprint. There are lots of plant-based options here, along with seasonal meat.


Meat lovers's Mecca!

For meat lovers and wine enthusiasts alike, Upstairs at the Grill is truly a cut above the rest. It has served the Chester community for nearly 20 years but underwent a complete renovation over lockdown and has transformed into its current form, a breathtakingly cool bar and grill. Owner Jason Blygh, a business developer and wine connoisseur, has infused his passion for excellence into every aspect of the restaurant. His expertise in wine is evident in the extensive cellar that showcases some of the finest Californian wines, including exclusive Napa Valley labels. This place offers New York vibes by the glass and plateful. The dimly lit speakeasy-style bar with high ceilings and tasteful art offers well-crafted cocktails and an extensive wine menu. The new terrace dining area is atmospheric, with guests dining on oysters, fish, and, of course, steaks. Showcasing some of the very best steaks from British farmers as well as top-quality beef from the United States and other great cuts and breeds from across the world, you will need to set aside quite a few hours for this experience because it’s truly dinner to savour, and if you want to add a layer of style, request for owner Jason to pair your wine. I was treated to a Fort Ross Chardonnay from Sonoma in California with my scallops and CAMi Merlot from Napa in California with my cote de boeuf. In an era where dining out is about more than just food, Upstairs at the Grill provides a sanctuary for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life.   

Dreaming of Racing?

If you need some quiet time and a really decent nights sleep then Moxy Chester (part of the Marriott group) is located on the picturesque canal with easy access to the city centre and just a 7-minute walk from the train station. The concept of Moxy is to  ‘celebrate nonconformity, open-mindedness, and originality’. It manages well and gives east London cool, while also being inviting and accessible. The vast lounge area is fun and nicely lit with hanging plants and quirky design touches. The rooms are very comfortable, and very quiet with great lighting options. 

The GeeGees! 

With events like Ibiza Classics Evening and Soul Sunset Racing with Craig Charles in July, and Liverpool John Lennon Family day in August, Chester Races are offering a unique line up this year. 

See the website for more