The Great Chase 8.5/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 8/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 8/10
NOTE: All meat is halal (HMC and tayyib: Hill Farms Finest) and no alcohol is present on-site.
I had heard about The Great Chase and was meaning to pop down one day after work when it first opened. At that time I never knew much about it, other than it provided halal fine dining. Unfortunately, I never got around to it. In fact, the first time I set foot inside The Great Chase was when I was invited for Master Gourmet Meat’s launch event at the restaurant. Here I had the opportunity to sample one of their beautiful hand pressed cordials from their dry bar, and after having a rather long chat with one of the owners Mabruk about the ethos behind The Great Chase, I knew I had to visit and try their food.
Located on St. John Street, Islington, The Great Chase is a fine dining restaurant like no other. Having opened last year, The Great Chase aims to serve up the very best quality of halal and tayyib food. Their seasonal menus are rich and varied, and they aim to cater for all tastes, appetites, and choices. Their ethos is to serve premium-quality meat obtained from farms where welfare is of an extremely high standard. Where possible, all produce is sourced locally, and all the ingredients used in the restaurant are fresh. In fact, all ingredients used can be traced from the farm straight to your plate. This is one of the rare cases where the restaurant gives full disclosure and transparency in terms of where their meat and produce for all their dishes and drinks come from.
I personally, was dying to try their roast dinner from the start, after all, a good halal roast is hard to come by. The Great Chase was up against some stiff competition, as to date, nobody has topped my MILs lamb roast! When my beautiful bestie SA came to visit me in London, I decided it was time to give it a try, so I booked a table for 2pm, and dragged her to The Great Chase, (any excuse for a celebration)!
It was a beautifully warm, sunny day, which matches the simple, rustic theme of The Great Chase perfectly. My first impressions of the restaurant was that it was small yet quaint. When we arrived, our table wasn’t ready. so we took a seat at the dry bar and watched the other owner, Rolo, make some wonderfully flavoured mocktails/cordials (all fresh and hand-pressed btw) whilst having a chat and joke. In no time at all, our table was ready outside, and we took a seat in the sun by the beautifully decorated flower wall.
Our waiter was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu, and was able to recommend cordials which would best accompany our meal. It is at this point that I should point out, that The Great Chase also have an extensive tea menu, not dissimilar to a wine list. All their teas are sourced from the Rare Tea Company, and their belief is that as tea has as broad a taste spectrum as wine, diners should have the option of tea flavors to choose from, and therefore, there is a tea to complement every single meal on the menu. The waiters have amazing knowledge on what to pick, all you have to do is ask!
Down to what we chose: I opted for the roast 42 day dry-aged beef sirloin dinner, served with beef dripping potatoes, greens, neeps, purple sprouting broccoli, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. I was extremely lucky, as I was told that this was the last one of four roast beef portions left! (Note: to avoid disappointment, if you know what you want to order then do specify this at the time of booking, as in some cases, dish availability is limited). SA ordered the same but with roast free-range chicken breast.
Drinks-wise, I ordered the ‘Palamino’, made with pink grapefruit cordial, agave syrup, lime, coconut water and salt flake. SA grabbed the ‘My cherry amour’ made with cherry and fig leaf cordial, Bees Knees rose, and ‘maraschino’ cherry. The waiter was very explicit in telling me how the meat is usually cooked, and I agreed that medium-rare (as always) was the best option.
The drinks certainly gave me a taste of the greatness that was to come. This isn’t your usual syrup/lemonade filled mocktail. The flavours in each drink served here are novel, ingredients are all fresh, and each has a unique taste which sets the drinks here apart from any other non-alcoholic beverage I have had. SA was thoroughly enjoying her drink although I was too absorbed in mine to try hers! I enjoyed the bitter kick among the refreshing coconut and lime flavours of my cordial, and had to refrain from polishing it off before my meal arrived.
We didn’t have to wait very long until our humongous plates arrived in all their glory. I have to say, after hearing a lot of negative comments about the price of food at The Great Chase, I was quite perplexed. What I saw was a very generous portion of food. I wasted absolutely no time in digging in…I had skipped breakfast for this! I have to say, I was not in the slightest bit disappointed.
The beef, although at first glance didn’t look medium rare, tasted out of this world. In all honesty, I have never tasted beef like this, and I’ve eaten a fair amount in the last few years. The meat was beautifully tender, marbled with just the right proportion of fat, and encapsulated in a tasty, thinly seared crust. I can’t even describe the taste of the meat. It was that outstanding. You could tell it was simply seasoned, but this meat was anything but short of flavour. This was it. This was my first taste of tayyib, ethically sourced, healthy, happy meat. I was sold. The yorkshire pudding was HUGE, with a crisp exterior, and a fluffy, light interior. The vegetables was equally cooked to my taste, tender, well seasoned, yet not overcooked. The gravy sweeter than I expected, yet complimented the entire meal perfectly (I like my gravy so my roast potatoes were practically swimming in a sea of it!). I saved my roast potatoes until last like I always do, and they were worth the wait. They were exceptionally crisp yet fluffy inside. I felt like I was in heavennnn! SA, despite consuming an entire meal at STAX just an hour before, still managed to finish her entire meal, and for me, a girl who has not once finished her meal in front of SA (which is a running joke between us), practically licked my plate clean. After eating every morsel I looked across to her, and she was jaw to the floor flabbergasted. I was full, yet content. I had eaten my body weight in food, yet wasn’t bloated like I usually am. I was HAPPY. I truly believe I was happy not only because of the excellent taste of the food, but because what I ate was a good quality, perfectly crafted, wholesome meal.
We both left room for dessert and I grabbed 2 scoops of matcha ice cream and SA went for the cornflakes ice cream (which she was ranting about forever!). Turns out she made a great decision. The cornflakes ice cream is definitely on my radar for next time!
Overall, I had an outstanding experience at The Great Chase. I am impressed by the ‘hands on’ nature of the owners, and the fact that they were so willing to talk to us about their initiatives and vision. I was impressed by the hospitality, knowledge and kindness of the waiters. The restaurant is small, and the decor is simple, and non-extravagant, yet harbours a comfortable homely feel. The price overall came to around £65 for two, for 2 mains, 2 drinks and 2 desserts. Steeper than usual but justified given the quality. At the end of the day, I don’t mind paying a fair price for good food that is enjoyable and I know I can’t cook at home.
The Great Chase is so much more than a fine dining halal restaurant. From it’s toilets to its soft drinks, from it’s meat to it’s vegetables. Absolutely every single detail has been thought out from an ethical and charitable perspective. Yes, the prices are higher than your average restaurant, but you certainly get what you pay for, and the price you pay is greatly reflected in the quality of the meat they serve. I feel sad to hear some visitors and bloggers have negative things to say about The Great Chase, and in those cases I really think some consumers who visit here don’t always fully understand what The Great Chase is serving up and what their ethos and motive is. I have a great respect for both Marbuk and Rolo, who have a great knowledge and drive behind the food served here. Both are extremely humble and willing to receive feedback and as a team, you can tell they are striving to do better, and that this isn’t a restaurant fixated on making some quick, easy cash..
As a blogger, it’s very easy for us to walk in, judge the food at face value, walk out and review our experience. Dining at The Great Chase has changed my perspective on how to review my overall dining experience, and has also highlighted the importance of helping other muslim businesses/restaurants in opposed to criticizing them all the time (oh we as muslims LOVE to do that, sometimes without realising). The fact of the matter is, there’s nobody out there doing what The Great Chase are doing, which is serving great quality, ethically sourced, healthy, tayyib and halal food with a creative twist. I pray that this brilliant eatery draws more attention to the importance of eating ethically sourced halal meat. Ameen to that.