(Please note: This is NOT a paid review, just thought readers might find our experience helpful when deciding what restaurant to visit in Dockside, Chatham. I’ve also written about Zippers before.)
For those of you who live in Medway, you’ll know that Dockside Chatham is a game of 2 halves. On the 1 hand, particularly in summer, it’s really rather beautiful. You can moor your small yacht there (I keep mine in the shed), there are a couple of tall, good looking apartment blocks (although they seem eerily unoccupied), and there are also a handful of nice(ish) restaurants. However, the ‘shopping centre’ really is a let down. A massive shame because, were a couple of big names to go in, it would be a real draw for the area.
Anyway, that’s a little background. Dexter and I occasionally go down to Dockside, especially if we’re visiting the Odeon cinema, but this week decided to try out a new modern Italian restaurant called Villagio. I did a little research beforehand. It’s a chain of 7 restaurants across the country and a good friend of mine has been a few times and liked it. That was pretty much the extent of my research!
In all honesty, we had intended to go to Real China next door – you know the type of ‘all you can eat’ Chinese buffet that is more about quantity than quality – but they tried to make me pay an adult price for Dexter based on the fact that he’s tall. Yup. He’s a tall 9 year old boy so they think he should pay adult price. I, on the other hand, don’t, and so we walked out. (As an aside, if you’re going to have ‘adult’ and ‘child’ prices … base it on the fact that either you’re an adult or a child, don’t discriminate on height.)
We looked at Villagio’s menu outside before going in and it’s not cheap. But then I’m not really used to going out to restaurants that often so I always like to have a moan about how much things cost these days. From what I know, think prices perhaps comparable to Zizzis (or maybe a little higher.) We went in anyway … when you have a hungry child with you you just want them fed ASAP.
It was empty, but it was 6pm mid-week, so I wasn’t surprised. It was beautifully decorated, really classy, and the welcome was warm and professional. We (obviously) had our choice of seats and Dexter chose to sit on a comfy corner sofa seat.
There was an excellent variety of different meals to choose from although, as usual, Dexter wasn’t remotely interested in the children’s menu. We were asked if we wanted bread and olives straight away, to which Dexter said yes. Until I corrected him and pointed out that they’re not actually free and he hates olives. A great selection of pizzas and Dexter went for the Carne (ALL the meat) and I went for a Calzone. We ordered extra fries because you have to have chips with pizza. It’s an Italian law (apparently).
I can’t fault either of our meals. Considering they were freshly cooked to order, they only took about 10 minutes to arrive, although I’d imagine that at the weekend it would take a fair bit longer. Both dishes were piping hot, delicious and really generous portions. The chips were gorgeous – would have been nice to have perhaps had more in the portion.
We were offered accoutrements and I chose some chilli oil which gave a delicious kick to the whole meal, especially when you only have the bread crust left. I made Dexter try it. Suffice to say, he’s not a fan.
Although we were full up, I always like to see the dessert menu but was really disappointed with the prices. £5.10 for dessert? In my opinion, that’s way too expensive, no matter how good your Tiramisu might be! We declined, then had a McFlurry on the way home.
Friendly, helpful and not too intrusive. We didn’t really talk to the staff per se but they all seemed to know what they were doing.
Value for Money
I paid £31 for our meal, which consisted of 2 mains, a pint of Peroni and a Fanta. It’s not cheap. Having said that, the portions were generous and because the food was so delicious I would certainly say it was value for money – we just can’t go every week.
Overall, it’s unusual for me not to have 1 complaint about a restaurant, no matter how small, but with Villagio, I honestly didn’t. Oh, apart from the price of desserts! I wonder what the service would be like were the restaurant to be busier next time we go, so we’ll have to see. But I think I might like to go down there for Mother’s Day … they’re giving away a free glass of Prosecco 🙂
*Update: Since I wrote this review two years ago, my opinion still stands! We often go and love this restaurant and it’s always Dexter’s restaurant of choice for his birthday. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.