Restaurants: Where shall we meet in Blackheath

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The Independent Culture
Blackheath is turning into a right little haven of foodiness these days. The delicatessens in the area having always thrived on the fact that there weren't many eating- out options if you didn't like Tex-Mex, local residents scarcely have to set foot indoors for their amusement these days. Latest arrival is Chapter Two, which has been predicting its opening for almost a year. It finally did so, after numerous building problems, a couple of months ago.

Chapter Two is the younger sister of Chapter One, the deservedly popular restaurant in Farnborough, Kent, whose chef, John Wood, is the guy who shows Gloria Hunniford how to cook on Channel Five in the afternoons. He is also executive chef at Chapter Two. But the real responsibility for the food lies with Adrian Jones, who has come up to stardom via spells with Gary, Nico, Pierre and Bruno. Now he produces West End modern-European cuisine at suburban prices to the foodies of the South East. His three- course dinner menu at pounds 22.50 is terrific value.

The only problem is that, if you've been brought up to finish what's on your plate, the helpings are so large it's hard to do justice to the puddings. And this is a restaurant that knows its puddings. Then again, the business types around us seemed to have no problems at all. After pork knuckle ravioli with wild mushrooms and truffle dressing (a great combination of the rustic and the urbane) and a confit of rabbit that actually consisted of a juicy flank and some delicate vegetables, we had roast brill with chorizo cabbage - its skin like those posh crisps you always decide you can't afford in the corner shop - and a confit of salmon with pea risotto, roast artichokes and shallot butter: Adrian likes his vegetables, and makes much of them. And then we were too stuffed to have more than two bites each of puds that you would stomp on your granny to get to in the normal course of things. Hot chocolate waffles came with an iced orange parfait and citrus compote: a combination of sweet and sharp, hot and cold, crunchy and smooth that must have taken long, hard thinking. The chocolate tart, chocolate-chip and cherry ice-cream was so rich in its main ingredient I was hyperactive all afternoon, frightening little children on Blackheath station with my aeroplane noises. Why do puddings have to come at the end of meals? It's so unfair.

Chapter Two, 43/45 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath Village, London SE3 (0181-333 2666)