Thus far, the restaurant's other key attraction has been its owner Zak Jones, who hands on manages the restaurant on a daily basis and on my visits there, has always been in the restaurant itself during service where it is clear that he knows his guests well and seeks to look after them as best he can. Personal touches and a restaurant that cares can seldom be beaten and it's clear that Zak embraces a customer-centric philosophy.
And as noted, there's a new Head Chef, Simon Christey-French. His CV is impeccable, having worked at Gidleigh Park, The Square, a period as Richard Branson's private chef and latterly as Head Chef at Pearl. Simon therefore is big win for The Chancery and after a period of transition from my previous visit a year ago, it looks like The Chancery is now enjoying a period of stability.
At our lunch, there was a choice of an a la carte, or a six course tasting menu. With two friends and an afternoon set aside to enjoy The Chancery's wine list, we opted for the tasting menu though with a few variations so we could see even more of the food. We note approvingly that the menu sounds both appetising and original and there's lots on there we look forward to. Simon is not just delivering a 'me too' spring menu but is really looking to create original food. For the most part, the gamble pays off. A colourful smoked cod dish starts, with cod brandade, smoked cod, roasted baby peppers, chickpeas and red pepper ketchup that delivers some powerful flavours, but without getting lost or confused and the table verdict is a thumbs up.
Two meat courses scored amongst the highest approval rating of the table with a lamb croquette early on and smoked Iberico Presa and bbq rib for the main. These were standout flavours expertly cooked and universally enjoyed, suggesting much promise for the new Chancery team. Our principal criticism lay only that as a tasting menu, plates like the confit lamb were just a shade away from full size starters and both the presentation and general appeal of the dish could be greatly enhanced with some pruning to ensure the right balance and that the tasting menu is exactly that, so doesn't overwhelm.
Only the lobster cannelloni failed to deliver as a dish in our view, with the delicate flavour through the cannelloni overpowered by an overly thick (parsley?) puree. The lobster claw was nevertheless sumptuous so again, only modest changes could take the dish to where it should be.
Good to see that desserts are not neglected and a Muscat and pear soup that came alongside the poached baby pear had everyone excited. A chocolate tart and, on the parallel menu, a pineapple cheesecake, were both well presented and rounded out the meal nicely.
The area around Chancery Lane is not especially vibrant with good restaurants and The Chancery provides some welcome relief. With Simon installed as the new Head Chef, the food is now delivering where they want it to be and when paired with a tremendous value wine list and owner Zak Jones's focus on customer well being, it's a very comfortable place to spend a lunch time. On the two occasions I've been there, both times with a couple of friends, we found ourselves in no hurry to leave and passed a very pleasurable few hours there, and as Simon settles down in his new role, the offering should only get stronger.
Follow The Chancery on Twitter: @chancerylondon