Amelie and Friends (Chichester, UK)

(Update: Alas, Amelie and Friends closed in August 2016, “Due to Brexit”. It has since been replaced by a similar restaurant, Purchases Restaurant).

While my parents were still visiting in London, my brother decided it would be pleasant to take them on a day trip, so we all hopped on a train and headed down to West Sussex to visit the town of Chichester. Like York on one of our previous visits, Chichester is pretty neat since it dates back to Roman times, still maintaining the basic Roman-era street layout and outer walls. And, like most any English city of its size, it’s now got a cathedral (Chichester Cathedral is pretty unusual in that while it has a bell tower, the bell tower is a separate building) and a Market Cross. But after a morning roaming about checking out the cathedral, gardens, and the wall of the city, we met up with everyone and had a pleasant lunch at Amelie and Friends.

Located across the street from the old Butter Market (which back in the heyday of Chichester being the area market city, this was actually a butter market), it’s a pleasant space with white walls, dark wooden floors, and a nice, airy dining space. The menu is basically “European bistro”, and has your basic bistro fare: steak frites, fish and chips, poached chicken, and similar fare, as well as a rather pleasant cocktail menu.

Since our earlier visit to Europe back the previous April, I’m still constantly craving a good steak frites, and seeing that they had a nice reasonably-sized onglet and chips on the menu, I couldn’t resist ordering this. Indeed, I was quite satisfied, my onglet (a cut that if not cooked correctly quickly turns into shoe leather) was perfectly cooked medium rare with a soft and tender interior and a crisp exterior, with a light dusting of Maldon sea salt. Served up with a pleasant port-wine jus, this was a nice lunch-sized portion. The chips were also nicely executed, with the fluffy exterior and oil-crisped exterior I like in a properly double-cooked chip.

Carol instead opted for the classic fish and chips, and this too was well executed: a nice, generous portion of cod, served up with a perfectly fluffy breading and a moist interior, a side of mushy peas (one of these days I’ll have to properly recreate that back home) and the same pleasant chips as my onglet, this was a good example of “posh fish and chips” done well.

But where Amelie really shined was a nice dessert menu. Carol opted for their plum tart, which was a pleasantly executed little tart with immaculate little slices of plum, served up with a pleasant orange blossom ice cream. Myself? If there’s one course where I’m usually unable to resist a sampler, it’s dessert, where in this case I was tempted by the assiette:a trio of chocolate mousse, sticky toffee pudding, and a segment of the same plum tart that Carol had. And each of these was particularly well executed: a nice flaky tart, a nice oozing sticky toffee pudding, and a rich-but-not-sticky-sweet mousse. I’d certainly recommend keeping room for dessert.

Overall, Amelie and Friends is definitely one of the dining attractions of Chichester: a pleasant bistro with welcoming staff and a solid menu of bistro food executed well. I’d certainly like to return and try some of their more interesting dishes (like the vegetarian “fish” and chips made with halloumi).

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