Situated on Chislehurst High Street, Kent and housed in a former Victorian bank, this wine bar and kitchen opened its doors just 4 weeks ago. Before the opening there was a real buzz in the community, expectations were high and just like everyone else I couldn’t wait to book a table. The Bank House was originally designed by William Campbell-Jones in 1907, a British architect who was commissioned to design a building to stand the test of time for the National Provincial Bank, now it has been lovingly restored into a high-class eatery.
I felt a tad nervous entering the Bank House; with this being just a stone’s throw from home, I wanted it to be fabulous! I am used to dining in some of London’s best restaurants and nothing locally has ever come close – until now.
The Bank House has been a complete passion project of Stuart Gillies and his wife Cecilia. Stuart is the former CEO of Gordon Ramsey’s group and left the business 18 months ago. He has lived in Chislehurst for the past 6 years and never felt the village had anything which matched London quality.
As soon as we walked in, I knew that this was somewhere special. The ground floor bar and dining area were classic, with a perfect lived-in feel. The aged coppertop bar was stunning, the lighting was warm and atmospheric and the buzz inviting. We were greeted by Angelika Oparczyk who Stuart has worked with before and brought to The Bank House as his sommelier.
I can’t explain what gives a restaurant its exclusivity, but everything from the friendliness of the staff, the warmth of the interior, the atmosphere and the quality of the food and drink, all contribute to the perfect dining experience.
Stuart introduced himself and his passion for this new project was clear, this was more than just the opening of a new restaurant to him, this is a family venture, a move away from the corporate world – this is where he wants to be. Running and owning a new restaurant, just a few minutes drive from home on his new Vespa!
I must talk about the food, which was European small plates. The weekly changing menu and daily specials are executed by Head Chef Bobby Brown, previously of Bread Street Kitchen and The Kentish Hare. He uses artisan produce and locally sourced ingredients to create a menu including Fried Buttermilk Chicken and Venison Sausage Roll. It was divine and moreish, the warm goat’s cheese, the hake, the flat iron, nothing disappointed. I probably didn’t need the chocolate dessert, but I couldn’t resist.
After a wonderful evening, it was an extra treat to only be a few minutes from home. Bank House is somewhere I can’t wait to return to, a place that I am sure will become our local favourite, whether we just fancy a glass of wine or dinner after work.
This is an exciting time for Chislehurst, finally, we have a top-quality wine bar and kitchen.