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“No Bad” 4 of 5 stars
Review of La Cantina

La Cantina
5 Boughton, Chester CH3 5AE, England
01244 401413
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Ranked #94 of 411 Restaurants in Chester
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Doing business, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Delivery, Late Night
Southampton, United Kingdom
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“No Bad”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2013

Customer service very good, made to feel welcome after dropping in without a booking. Despite being fully booked for the night found a table for us in between services. Food excellent & good value

  • Visited November 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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152 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Dutton, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
“Saturday 16 November”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2013

Had a meal at La Cantina on Saturday I must say that it was, on the whole, extremely enjoyable. This isn’t the place to go if expecting run-of-the mill Italian fayre, as the food here is as close to an authentic dining experience as you’re likely to enjoy outside of an Italian family home. Initial impressions were that it was quiet for a Saturday night (two other tables were occupied), though the atmosphere was nonetheless warm and vibrant.

We chose a sensibly-priced merlot (which had an extra 10% stricken from the marked price), which went down well. The Wife opted for a mushroom and pear-based starter which she extolled as delicious, whilst I had beef carpaccio, as good as I’ve had. My main course comprised pork loin, a huge helping - complemented by prunes and apricots whose sweetness nicely offset the saltiness of the pork – along with a raft of side dishes: Italian bread, green beans with cheese shavings etc. The Wife’s main course of seafood spaghetti was enormous and near groaned under the weight of crustaceans. Someone, in a previous review, took issue with the ‘claws-and-all’ nature of this dish. This wasn’t a problem for us, the Wife is a whiz at divesting molluscs and shellfish of their exoskeletons, and a bowl of water was provided on the side for this purpose.

I had black forest gateau for dessert, which was described to me as a cheesecake (but was more of a cake). What arrived was very good, not too heavy and not overly sweet or cloying as that particular staple is wont to sometimes be. My only criticism was that I would have liked a larger portion than that served in the smallish glass ramekin. The Wife enjoyed a mango cheesecake, although she did find the base a bit soggy.

Overall, we had a great meal here, doubtless enhanced by the 20% off voucher we used from Onionring. The bill amounted to £65-ish and I felt this was value for money. One thing I will say is that it’s not particularly cheap, main courses are roughly around the £20 mark which is expensive for the Boughton end of town. Some of the wines are very expensive, too, and one wonders how many such units they generally shift. I’m also unsure as to why they don’t take card, only cash or cheque. This was explained to us at the time of booking, so again, wasn’t an issue.

So, all things considered, if you’re looking for something a bit different in Chester, something that contrasts markedly with a lot of the Italian chain places in town, then I would encourage you, without hesitation, to give La Cantina a go.

  • Visited November 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Chester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Excellent Italian Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2013

We have been to La Cantina for a number of special meals and have had brilliant food and fantastic hospitality each time.

This isn't a chain restaurant, and this isn't a typical noisy "pack 'em in Italian" with various rich, creamy pastas to disguise the lack of talent in the kitchen.

Also, it's so refreshing not to be chased out of the door once you've finished, which is so common at many restaurants nowadays. At La Cantina, it's completely different, the chef sometimes even comes out for a chat at the end of a meal.
The staff/management seem to know a lot of the customers by name, which indicates that there is a lot of return custom which can only be a good thing.

I have to take issue with the previous review where his 'Englishness' prevented him from asking for what he wanted, then when when he didn't get, what he didn't ask for, he was unhappy? This isn't Bella Italia! If you would like something different, ask for it! It's being cooked specifically for you!

This place serves fantastic, wholesome food for people who appreciate it, if you want a duck pizza, you know where to go!

  • Visited September 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Dorset, England
Top Contributor
243 reviews 243 reviews
131 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 108 cities Reviews in 108 cities
194 helpful votes 194 helpful votes
“Overpriced and underwhelming”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013

It seems that many people love this place, so perhaps we were unlucky, but it really felt like they were losing their touch, especially as the place was fairly empty on a Saturday night. One suggestion was that they were in trouble as they have no card machine for payments (but perhaps they prefer that) and some of the ingredients were not of the quality you'd expect for the price. Also, the menus - 2 ordinary sheets of typed paper - looked as if they had been used for several days - you can accept that type of menu if the choices change frequently but that hardly seemed the case.
We were particularly disappointed as we had booked the restaurant to meet the 'outlaws' for the first time. I don't think anyone really enjoyed their meal, although our new friends were too polite to really say so.
As examples, the anchovy starter was too strong, and certainly too strongly flavoured to stand on its own - needing bread (or something) to balance it. Indeed, some of the other starters also really needed bread, but none was provided until we asked... I'd have expected some anyway. The risotto was said to be cooked from scratch taking 40 minutes, so might slow down the mains, but would be 'the best you've ever had'. Sorry, but it was nowhere near that: although the sauce was good, the rice was somewhat hard (undercooked I think), whilst I was rather unhappy to have shell-on prawns and langoustine - hardly ideal amongst the sticky rice. No plate was provided for the bits until asked for, whilst the tails of almost all the langoustine produced little more than a mush. And despite the risotto apparently slowing down the process, it was the first of the 6 mains to be delivered, with each then brought separately over about 5 minutes; clearly far too long.
La Cantina is round the corner from the many restaurants on City Road and in the 'Canal Quarter', but that puts it in a slightly less salubrious area. The prices don't reflect that, nor the quality of the food, at almost £240 for 6 starters, 6 mains and 3 bottles of wine.
Yes, we should have complained at the time, but it was difficult with new friends (and, of course, we're English!).

  • Visited October 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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marcoroma15, Owner at La Cantina, responded to this review, October 16, 2013
Thankyou for your detailed comments.

To clarify a couple of points
- our policy is to offer free of charge bread with all main courses, so we don't as a matter of course offer it with starters too, to avoid overfacing customers; when you asked for it with starters it was provided ( free- whereas many restaurants would charge)
- the risotto is cooked al onda , as in Venice ie with a bite on the rice as it should be, not hard. If you like risotto mushy that is a personal taste of course; the menu is clear that it is served with shell on crevettes and or languostines so if you don't like that surprised you chose it- if you had asked as some one did a few weeks ago we could have taken them off the shell. You were anyway provided with finger bowls/water-lemon as a norm with that dish
-that dish has been commented upon by many diners as the best risotto they have enjoyed anywhere , the front of house were simply relaying that fairly extensive earlier feedback from last couple of months, but we appreciate it is down to personal taste
-the anchovies you refer to is described as a spicy, strong taste, so again probably down to your taste for what sounds like wanting something fairly mild/neutral to suit your palate
-on the pricing, 6 people, excluding the 3 good quality bottles of wine at around discounted from a usual £28 or so to £20 each, paid on average £15 per head for a starter and main including bread and a full dressed salad where relevant - so hardly exhorbitant unless you are someone who likes 2 steaks and a bottle of wine for a tenner!
-the numbers on the Saturday you came totalled overall during the evening around 24 which is a level we are happy with as a small reasonably intimate restaurant and kitchen

La Cantina
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Chester, United Kingdom
14 reviews 14 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Wonderful Italian Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2013

This is a really nice family run Italian Café/Restaurant. Myself and a friend visited during the day, the restaurant itself is just outside Chester City Centre but within walking distance.

I had penne pasta with home made pesto, sliced green beans and potatoes. This was priced at around £12 which might sound expensive for pasta but you get a very generous plateful and it is served with some lovely Italian breads and a bowl of very high quality salad with asparagus and different kinds of greens, I thought this made it really good value. The pasta dish itself was bursting with flavour and had been prepare beautifully.. They obviously care a great about what they do.

It's a lovely place, very nicely decorated and modern looking and as it was a quiet lunchtime the owner took time out to chat to us before our food arrived which made us feel very welcome.

I'd definitely recommend this restaurant above the multitude of chain Italians that are around Chester. Am looking forward to going back.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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