The Slowboat used to be one of my favourite places to eat in Chester and was always top of my list when looking for somewhere for a large group.
However in recent years I’ve not been there quite so often so when it came to booking a meal for my husband’s birthday I thought it would be a good time to go back and see if it’s still as good as it used to be.
I was not disappointed and as our evening out fell on Chinese New Year’s Eve there was already a great party atmosphere when we arrived at 4pm.
As it was a Sunday evening the infamous ‘All You Can Eat Slowboat Sunday Banquet’ was on from 12-9pm. Priced at £13.60 (£5.60 for children aged 11 and under) you order as much food as you like and the meals are cooked fresh brought to your table rather than other buffet style deals where you help yourself to troughs of pre-prepared food.
We ordered drinks, mainly non-alcoholic apart from two pints of lager and started to peruse the menu which states that there are over 50 items to tempt you and I can honestly say there was something to please all eight members of our party aged from one to 71, even my extremely fussy daughter!
There’s a choice of two soups to start with, I opted for the chicken and sweetcorn which is may favourite and did not dissapoint. My husband chose the hot and sour soup which he said was delicious but not for the faint-hearted as it was indeed very hot.
We then chose a selection of starters which were delivered to the table on a large sharing platter. There were plenty to choose from and it was a tough job narrowing it down to just six but we decided to go for: salt and pepper chicken wings, prawn toast, chicken wonton, potato and ham croquettes, spicy meatballs and Thai chicken strips. The meatballs which were deep fried in a light batter were definitely my favourite and tasted much nicer than they looked. The Thai chicken strips were a hit with everyone especially the kids so we ordered a second portion along with some Kimdo spare ribs, these were delicious but not a huge portion so I’d recommend ordering a portion each.
One of the many staff came to clear our plates away and ask if we’d like to order more starters or move on to the main course. As tempted as we were to try more of the starters we knew that if we did we wouldn’t have room for the mains so we asked for five minutes to have a look at the menu and decide on our main courses.
We decided to go for: sweet and sour chicken, spicy Sichuan beef, black bean pork, mixed vegetable chicken, Singapore Laska chicken curry and black bean chicken.
After a welcome wait of 10 minutes our meals were placed in the centre of the table along with a large bowl of fried rice and two portions of chips which we’d ordered as extra (not included in the price of the banquet). The portions aren’t huge and each meal is just about enough for one person so if there’s something you want to share I would recommend ordering more than one portion but after you’ve finished you are free to order more if you have room.
My favourites were the black bean dishes and the spicy Sichuan chicken but to be honest it was all delicious even the curry although it was far too hot for a couple of our party.
After polishing off most of the food on the table there were still a couple of dishes that we wanted to try so we ordered the honey chicken strips and Cantonese beef. In hindsight we should have asked for more fried rice too as by the time the meals came our original rice was quite cold but that was our own fault. The beef was gorgeous and would definitely be top of my list for next time. I wasn’t so sure about the chicken as personally I found it a bit sickly but each to their own and I’m sure other people would love it.
Amazingly when the waitress came to clear the plates we we given the chance to order yet more main courses but we really didn’t have the room. We instead opted for five portions of ice-cream choosing not to go for the banana fritters which were also on offer.
As we were there for a birthday celebration we had taken along a birthday cake which the staff brought to the table singing Happy Birthday (much to my husband’s embarrassment) along with a knife and plates for us the serve the cake.
All in all I can say we totally enjoyed our evening at The Slowboat, we really had eaten as much as we could and couldn’t believe that the bill was only £127.80 for all our food and drink.
If you’re looking for the perfect venue for a celebration or just want to try as many Chinese dishes as you can possible eat then this is the place for you and I definitely won’t leave it as long before I go back again.
Scores on the doors:
Quality of food: 9/10
Value for money: 10/10
Food brag rating (how good it looks): 5/5
Food hygiene rating: 4/5 (from www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk)
What does TripAdvisor say? Average rating 4/5. A Chinese buffet with a difference.
Where is it? 57a Frodsham Street, Chester, CH1 3JJ. Call 01244 317873
Chester Chronicle reviewers always pay for their own meal and we don’t tell them in advance that we’re coming to visit.