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“Super food, lovely staff, and great lesson too”
Review of La Cantina - CLOSED

La Cantina
Cuisines: Italian
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Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Large groups
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Reviewed June 25, 2013

I have been to La Cantina 3 times in the last year. like most decent restaurants in Chester, it isn't cheap, but the food, and the friendly welcome make it worth it. The menu is always well thought out, usually with something I haven't tried before (and I have a wide ranging taste) they clearly take great care over selecting their ingredients, and as a result, I changed from a raw tomato hater into a tomato liker overnight, thanks to their fabulous tomato Salad with Bruschetta. Theit Risotto's are to die for, the lamb was melt in the mouth, pancetta utterly delicious and sorbets are fabulous. (I'm afraid I still prefer Delia's Tiramisu though)!
I went there for my Birthday in February, and their card machine had broken, but they were very apologetic, and said they'd be happy to wait if we wanted to nip down the street to get some cash.
I've also been on a cookery course at La Cantina, and would happily recommend that to anyone interested in food, we all had a go at cooking both the main course and dessert. We learned to make proper risotto's. the owner was happy to make changes to the planned menu that evening to accommodate the groups differing tastes. we had a super evening! Will go back for my next birthday!

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Thank FifiMi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (155)
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49 - 53 of 155 reviews

Reviewed June 25, 2013

We have eaten at the restaurant and attended a fun cookery evening with friends, both I can Highly recommend, the food is freshly cooked to order and tastes fabulous, an informal bright ambiance greets you at this restaurant and nothing is too much trouble, may I recommend the non-alcoholic Mojito for the Designated Driver! The cookery evening is great fun and a friend who came with us who had not so much as boiled an egg enjoyed the fruits of his labour (Tiramsu by the way). So get yourself down to this lovely friendly restaurant, be sure to book early.

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1  Thank Flossyflyn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2013

The restaurant is on our route into the town centre and having walked past on numerous ocassions we decided we should finally try the place, especially as having lived in Italy for 2 years, we absolutely love the cuisine. However, as always, i came onto Trip Advisor to see what everyone else was saying about the place. The fact that the menagement feel the need to reply to every negative review and in such a patronising manner really put me off! I decided i would look past this and go and judge the place for myself...
As other reviewers have mentioned, a number of the menu options were already sold out (this was 7pm, midweek and we were the only people in the restaurant at the time). Having had to re-choose our mains i went for the Carbonara. Admittedly, i did not check what pasta this was served with but i was suprised when it arrived with penne however this in itself was not a problem- the fact that i was essentially served scrambled eggs with pasta was! We mentioned this to our server, who in turn mentioned this to the manager who came to our table to tell us this is how carbonara is served in Rome as they do not use cream in the sauce! I appreciate they do not use cream, but nor do they overcook the eggs and serve them scrambled!
It's a shame that the manager felt the need to come over and say this, as it made the situation rather uncomfortable and has put us off returning. Normally we will always give somewhere a second chance as anywhere can have an off day, but bad customer service from management- unforgiveable!
And so the countdown begins until i receive my reply to this review!

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7  Thank slickt0ria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
marcoroma15, Owner at La Cantina, responded to this reviewResponded June 25, 2013

Thankyou for your comments.

On the carbornara points, apologies if it was not what you expected- when it was on the menu we had a chef over from Rome who was cooking it, but we have parted company with him as we were unhappy with certain aspects of his work including that dish when Mark our senior chef ( who had temporarily stepped back due to a family loss ) looked at it more closely after a month of his employment ( the problem being that he would not take direction and decided to do his own thing regardless) - Mark is now back currently heading and in the kitchen each evening and as previously on a day to day basis we are getting excellent direct, face to face customer feedback as to quality of food. Carbonara is not on the menu at the moment but has cooked it on request for one customer recently who was very happy with it, including that he put in on request a touch of cream and let the eggs cook over the hot pasta as is the correct manner.

The reason alot of restaurants use Penne with it as that holds the sauce better- you will see that explanation for example if you look at the River Cafe cookbook of the leading London based Italian restaurant. However some restaurants including many in Rome area where the dish comes from do use spaghetti, tagliatelle or bucatini- ther is no one right way.

We are sorry you feel as you do as to management interaction - the vast majority of our customers are very happy with the service and often chat away to management ( and kitchen staff if there is time ) with a very positive interaction both ways. In that respect we know a great many of our customers, over 3,500 of whom have asked to be on our database and social media sites for La Cantina , and receive information, events data etc and return to he restaurant sometimes often sometimes occasionally. As a result we are also often asked to hold special 'personalised' events for many customers, like prewedding dinners, occasional wedding reception on site and outside catering, 40th, 50th etc birthdays, reunion dinners. We also get alot of repeat visits from church and other groups like St Werburghs Roman Catholic, various CofE groups from Chester parishes, business clubs in Chester, ..all this is.almost always through word of mouth recommendation. Hopefully that might provide a context for other readers to take on board the occasional TA negative comment which wherever we do receive them as to not simply made as an insult, we can assure you are atken seriously and rectified as appropriate.

It is our policy to reply to reviews where time permits particularly where we feel the comments are factually incorrect or on occasion unnecessarily personalised and negative undermining the consistent hard work and passion put in by the whole team in a difficult industry- that is the flip side of course of social media sites and we would much prefer to simply have the face to face discussions and develop -as with other customers- a positive customer service relationship.

There is quite a range of subjective comment on our TripAdvisor site as a whole, of which well over 80% is very positive and on face to face contact ie those customers that don't post reviews - around 2500 customers per year compared to about 30 posts on TA per year-the vast majority of the general feedback we get is fortunately very positive, many new customers come via word of mouth, albeit we are a small niche business a bit off the usual passing trade track.

We hope that explains things for you in a positive manner and if you have any further comment you can always call in, telephone us on 01244 401413 or email on info@lacantinachester.com attention Liz or Mark

Thanks

La Cantina team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 19, 2013 via mobile

Our party ranged from ages 19 to 81 but everyone was catered for. The restaurant is small and quiet, just what we wanted. The staff did everything they could to make our experience special.

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Thank davehChester_England
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
marcoroma15, Owner at La Cantina, responded to this reviewResponded June 24, 2013

Thankyou; it was nice to have your group come to us us last week and glad that you enjoyed it.

La Cantina team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 12, 2013

We visited the restaurant on what we thought would have been a busy Saturday evening, unfortunately only 3 tables where taken and the atmosphere was dismal. The selection of food likewise, with only 5 starters and 3 mains to choose from. Even when placing our order with the waitress, there where restricts on the quantity of steaks available and a few members of our party had to change there order. We where also disappointed with the lack of any draught beer and the time taken to make simple classic cocktails.

The meals where however nice, but didn’t warrant there price tag. Also, the restaurant don’t except card, only cash or cheque which we found very inconvenient. There are much better restaurants available in Chester and I doubt very much we will be returning.

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5  Thank Max_nrg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
marcoroma15, Owner at La Cantina, responded to this reviewResponded May 13, 2013

We note your comments.

In your narrative you say all the food was nice but in your headline you note the food you ate as ' inconsistent,' which immediately throws up questions about the efficacy of your comments.

To rectify certain points, the menus are basically 6-7 starters incl one soup with pasta, 3 pastas that can be taken as small or main course, the latter including a salad, and between 6-8 different mains depending on number of reservations which would generally be 5 or so different meat dishes including most weekends sirloin and ribeye and sometimes rump, fish ( again if busier with bookings rather than unbooked drop in trade, we will often buy in up to 3-4 choices fish ) and a couple of dishes like Risotto, vegetable stew or vegetable/cheese Lasagna , and then usually about 5 different desserts incl cheeses.

There are occasional Saturday nights late on where we may have sold out one or two menu items of starter and or main out particularly where many customers have gone for the same dish. However we do keep stock management tight as a normal family owned restaurant discipline and it is a careful balance of providing customers a full menu range of fresh food which is purchased for each evening service whereever possible earlier that day ( not weekly as we are aware many larger Chester establishments do ) and managing stock.

We as owners work at the coal face of the business and have been there every weekend open bar one in the last year, and cannot recall an instance when the level of menu restriction you write about has been at the limitationyou you quote- there maybe a very occasional instance when an unbooked table has arrived without reservation at the very end of service at or just after 9-30 pm ( usual last orders ) and we have offered to serve with the proviso of advising any sold out items.

Most Saturdays we are steady or busy and sometimers having to decline custom as full, but in the early part of January/February we had two o three quiet weekend evenings.

We are not a pub and hence don't serve draught beer but there is an ample range of bottled beers, particularly Italian but also British bitters etc- there are plenty of eating establishments around the region that have draught beer if that is what you want but you will see few and far between in Italy other than at casual eating houses like Tavola Calda or at some pizzeria. .

We are comfortable with the pricing which is around 10-15% lower than equivalent establishments in Chester taking all things into account.

We are always happy o discuss your observations face to face, especially where they do are inconsistent with the week to week experiences customers generally enjoy.

La Cantina

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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