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“Dont miss out on this place!!”
Review of La Cantina - CLOSED

La Cantina
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Large groups
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Chester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
40 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Dont miss out on this place!!”
Reviewed November 17, 2012

We went along to La Cantina on the 13th November for my wifes 40th Birthday, it was our first visit but most certainly will not be our last. We were made to feel very welcome on our arrival by the friendly, smiling staff. As it was a Tuesday we were offered a midweek menu, 2 courses for £11.95. I was a little worried that the selection of starters and mains may reflect in this price....no need to, the choices on offer were fantastic. I had the anchovies and Sarah had the salmon, both were very tasty and a really generous size. Sarah had ordered the risotto for her main and was told it could take up to 35 minutes as it is freshly prepared. This more than suited us both as there is nothing worse than having your mains put in front of you as soon as you have finished your starters!! It certainly was worth the wait anyway. I went for the chicken, which again was a very food sized portion and packed with flavour. I had also ordered some potatoes and veg to go along with my chicken thinking the portion size may have been a bit small, again the size of these portions was very generous and packed full of flavour, and more than enough to share between two. We went for the house red which was a very pleasant wine. To end the evening Sarah chose to have some chocolate cake (it was her Birthday after all) which was really nice. I went for my usual cheese and crackers to finish, which again was a very generous size with some lovely cheeses and fruit on my plate. I did find the crackers a little on the dry side though and maybe a selection of biscuits would be a better idea?? We loved it so much that we even signed up to the cookery school evening that the restaurant does, and we are both really looking forward to this at the beginning of December. This was a really lovely evening at a really lovely restaurant. The food is all freshly prepared with lots and lots of flavour. We will certainly be going back, soon, and i have made many recommendations to friends and colleagues already, thankyou for a lovely evening.

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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Helpful?
Thank Paul D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

155 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    99
    24
    11
    11
    10
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Chester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Meal Thursday 25th October”
Reviewed October 26, 2012

Had not been since July, 2012 due to holiday and work commitments. Booked a table on the morning.

As always our favourite and best dining experience in Chester. The informal atmosphere, music and general ambience gives an excellent dining experience that for us surpasses other eateries that charge a lot more.And it's consistantly excellent. We also never mind the wait as we know that everything is cooked fresh from scratch and that time passes very quickly.

The fish of the day (Tuna with prawns) was excellent, my shrimp omlette was beautiful and Liz's chocolate cake was rated very highly by the third person in our party.

All in all a great night out.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Mark H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Disappointing, but not a lost cause.”
Reviewed October 22, 2012 via mobile

Having lived in Chester for some time and eating out once a month or more, my partner and I have virtually exhausted our choice of eateries locally, especially Italian ones as we holiday in Italy regularly. La Cantina was one of the few places we hadn't visited so we went on a Saturday night.
A restaurant needs to tick a few boxes to be successful; food, ambience, choice, service, price are the main criteria.
Food was cooked with skill, clearly fresh and of a good standard, our starters were excellent.
Ambience was a little lacking, the place felt a bit bright and had more of a feel of a really nice cafe than a restaurant but that's easily fixed.
Menu choice, with the exception of the well chosen starters, was a little seafood orientated. The only main dishes containing meat were steak or a pork chop. No lasagna, ragu, bolognese, cannelloni or similar that you'd expect to find if you decided you fancied an Italian meal one night. I know Italians don't just eat pasta but you'd expect at least one meat-based pasta dish in an Italian restaurant.
Service was friendly and perfectly adequate, no real complaints at all.
Pricing was a sticking point because the mains are fixed at £16.90 (plus £3 if you choose the steak) which I believe is a mistake. This fixed amount means a few dishes work out to be well priced but also makes one or two really unrealistically priced which is where I suspect the pricing issue keeps being raised on TA. For instance £16.90 is perfectly reasonable for mussels or the pork but extremely expensive for spaghetti trapanese which is simply spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, rocket, garlic and pine nuts. Realistically the most I'd have been happy to pay is £11-13 for this main. I would usually have brought up the issue of price in person at the time of paying but having seen the way management handles criticism on here and the intimate setting we were in (the restaurant was barely half full), I didn't feel comfortable doing so.
Trip Advisor is an opinion based website and responses such as "XYZ is a matter of opinion" are basically redundant as a response to negative comments. I've tried to make my comments as constructive as possible as the general management response to negative feedback seems to be defensive and dismissive as though they assume there is zero room to improve. Sadly a half empty restaurant on a Saturday night says otherwise, but dimming the lights, maybe a few table cloths, a re-think of using a fixed price menu and a different attitude to paying customer's feedback is all that stands between mediocrity and a top ten TA placing for La Cantina in my opinion. No business is perfect and when nearly 1 in 10 of your TA reviews are 'Average' or below, maybe its not because your customers are wrong or because they are 'Bella Italia or Groupon-type customers' but because they are regular restaurant goers with valid opinions that can be used to move forward and improve. I work in a managerial position in a customer facing environment and I relish complaints, you learn more from defeat than victory.
Apologies for the lengthy review but I wanted to be as honest, accurate and constructive as I could.

    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank HollowLegz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
marcoroma15, Owner at La Cantina, responded to this review, October 25, 2012
We are a small family restaurant with the level of business at the level we currently want- sometimes busyish sometimes quiet but over course of a month tends to even out, including fairly good incidence of family and private/friends and corporate group bookings and events. We find most diners wanta civilized and discerning environment where they can eat, drink, chat unhurried and hear themselves speak- perhpas you prefer city centre glitzy, bustling and noisy places - plenty of those around where packaged well/sounds good but the food and wine is pretty poor-if that is your perception as to ambience .

We have around 6,000 customer contact details including many on a database and a reasonably large element of repaet business and word of mouth recommendation. We speak to many customers ( but not all due to time etc ) with general consensus putting that at around 99% very safisfied/excellent - that is also based on formal feedback we take and record across a fairly wide customer base dining, at events etc not just gut feel so a bit more scientific and broad based than 90 comments on TA over a period of 3 years. Similar on customer feedback as to key local sites like thebestofchester and Onionring.

The Times newspaper review of Chester earlier this summer lists the restaurant standout in Chester top 4 - consistent to the above direct feedback.

The TA feedback is helpful but not really ; there are around 10 more negative comments out of over 90 ie 30 per annum out of around 3,000 diners per annum , TA is a very small proportion generally and in relation to the above feedback figures. It also in our view attracts what we would call quite a mixed community of amateur critics who want to stamp their own personal expectations often on something that may simply be different to those rather than poor in its own right.

Note your 'layout' comments; we are a small family business happy with what we do and feedback but continually doing small changes including thinking from time to time about some of the layout matters you comment on. The covers, level of turnover etc are what we can handle pending if we want to have a broader resource involved so no always full but not frenetic, glitzy, rushed and poor standards of food & wine as is our perception of many Chester restaurants. We are not looking for growth other than if we extend the business model and people involved in the business.

We are happy with pricing including the dish you referred to- you should have spoken if you were concerned, or chosen something else as it was clearly described and many customers have enjoyed it and given very good feedback without any worry about the cost - the prices incidentally are generally around 10-15% below other similar establishments in Chester and wines available at £11-95 as well as at higher levels so plenty of choice for all. At the price point you refer to you are in the branded chain and group pub bracket- if you had advised that view on arrival we could have pointed you elsewhere if that was a key issue for you- as we did recently for a couple who arrived at the weekend , said it was not in their budget ( around £25/27 for two full courses incl vegetable/salad/bread etc ) and they sensibly booked to come in the following midweek on the £10-95 2 course midweek menu. We helped them find somewhere nice at that level for their weekend meal but they sensibly talked to us about it beforehand.

On the menu, we do have by far the widest fish selection in Chester most weekends- especially when we have higher reservation levels- as well as a good range of farm meats and vegetarian foods- on the menu you commented on there was by the way also quail and partridge which you overlooked in commeting about 'meats' as to beef/pork etc That is partly why we were lsted as one of the few best in Chester by a leading national newspaper.

La Cantina
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Excellent restaurant for my Mum's 70th birthday party.”
Reviewed September 16, 2012

We, as a family, have been going to La Cantina for a few years now and have never had a bad meal, in fact, the opposite, with excellent food prepared with flair and a passion for fresh produce. With this in mind we decided to have my Mum's 70th birthday here with a small gathering of 9 people here and what a good decision it was. The owners agreed a menu with us beforehand of food they woud put on the table that we liked without us having to look at menus and spoil the flow of the evening and everything they brought to us was fantastic and very varied so there was something for everyone. Nothing was too much trouble and I would highly recommend this restaurant for a get together for something a bit special or just to pop in for dinner. As for service, always friendly, never too fast and served as it would be in Italy - more slowly, so you can savour the food, chat and have time to digest before the next course.... not something that we are noted for in the UK sadly.

  • Visited August 2012
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Helpful?
1 Thank hillym20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Good food and friendly staff”
Reviewed September 6, 2012 via mobile

We poppEd in for a family meal recently and the food was good. It came out a little slowly but the waiting staff were very nice and friendly so the time that passed didn't matter too much! We would pop in again

    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sunshine1811
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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