Panna Chester

A Chemex of a Los Suspiros from Guatemala, roasted by Square Mile of London and served in Panna, Chester.I first came across Panna in Liverpool at the end of 2015, where owners Ivana and Peter, a friendly, welcoming Slovak couple, had turned a potentially unpromising basement in Silkhouse Court into a lovely, warm, welcoming café. There was some excellent food, along with coffee from Has Bean and local roasters Neighbourhood Coffee.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Silkhouse Court was sold and Ivana and Peter decided to relocate to Chester, opening five weeks ago on 15th August 2019, not long after my previous visit to Chester! In so doing, they’ve moved up in the world, quite literally in fact, swapping a basement for a ground floor space on Chester’s famous Rows on Watergate Street.

The good news is that they’ve brought the same warm, friendly atmosphere with them. For example, although it’s been four years since we last met, I was greeted like a long-lost friend! They’ve also brought the excellent food along in the shape of an all-day brunch menu with plenty of cakes and pastries. And then there’s the coffee, with two Has Bean blends on espresso and multiple guests on filter using a variety of brew methods, including Chemex, V60 and Aeropress.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Panna, in its new home on Watergate Street in Chester.
  • It occupies the ground floor of one of the Rows on the south side of the street.
  • Here's the view coming the other way, heading into the city centre.
  • The door is on the left...
  • ... with a false door/window on the right...
  • ... and a row of three, two-person tables between them.
  • The door, seen from the inside. Watch your step!
  • The two long windows at the front are home to a four-person window-bar.
  • The rest of Panna is down another broad step, stretching all the way to the back.
  • The counter occupies the front half of the shop on the right.
  • A view along the length of Panna...
  • ... and the view from the back, looking the other way.
  • These two tables occupy the middle of the space...
  • ... while a row of seven tables lines a bench along the left-hand wall.
  • There's more seating at the back...
  • ... starting with this three-person window-bar against the wall of the enclosed kitchen.
  • Beyond that are windows at the back, with more seating.
  • There's a pair of two-person tabes against the right-hand wall...
  • ... and opposite them, a six-person communal table.
  • What's that I can see through the window? That looks interesting.
  • The door on the right-hand side leads to a small, L-shaped courtyard.
  • There's a three-person table on the right...
  • ... and this two-person table on the left.
  • And that object I saw through the window? It's this Roman column base, believed...
  • ... to have stood on the southern edge of the main east-west street through Chester.
  • The arch, by the way, is medieval and it's all below current street level.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot, although windows front and back make Panna bright enough.
  • A nice touch of green.
  • Sound advice!
  • Let's get some coffee. The business end of the counter faces into Panna.
  • There's a small (for now) retail selection below the till...
  • ... with the cake selection next to it at the far end.
  • The coffee end of the operation, meanwhile, is at the front...
  • ... where the White Eagle espresso machine takes pride of place, facing the window.
  • The grinders are on the rear of the counter...
  • ... and pour-over is at the front.
  • There's also a small retail selection of beans to the right of the espresso machine.
  • When it comes to espresso, there's a choice of two, the more traditional Jailbreak blend...
  • ... and the fruiter  Jabberwocky.
  • I started with a flat white made with the Jailbreak blend. The white cups...
  • ... came with Panna from Liverpool, but are soon to be replaced with HuskeeCups.
  • There's also an all-day brunch menu...
  • ... from which I selected the vegetable-packed Rustic Omelette.
  • I paired this, at Peter's recommendation, with a Chemex of the Los Suspiros...
  • ... a single-origin from Guatemala, roasted by Square Mile, which is where I'll leave you.
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Panna is on Watergate Street, which is becoming Chester’s speciality coffee street, with Panna located between The Barista’s and The Flower Cup on the south side of the street, while fellow newcomer, Chalk Coffee, is just a few doors away on the north side. Like Chalk and The Baristsa’s, Panna occupies the ground floor of one of the Rows. Fairly deep and wide, it has low ceilings, while the floor is three steps down from street level, giving Panna a basement-like feel, although the presence of windows front and back prevent it from becoming too gloomy, particularly on sunny days.

Talking of which, the front of Panna is nearly all glass, with the door on the left, a false door/window on the right and two long windows joining the two. Outside, on the pavement, there’s a row of three two-person tables, shaded by the building. Two broad, old stone steps lead down from the door to a broad area at the front where a four-person window-bar looks out onto Watergate Street. Beyond this, another broad step leads down to the main floor, where the counter is the right, the Victoria Arduino White Eagle espresso machine taking pride of place at the front, facing the windows.

Seven two-person tables line a high-backed wooden bench along the left-hand wall opposite the counter, beyond which is a six-person communal table at the back. Two more two-person tables occupy the space between the counter and the bench, while beyond the counter is an enclosed kitchen space on the right, the wall occupied by a three-person bar.

The back of Panna is interesting, with windows and a recessed door on the right. This opens onto a small, L-shaped courtyard which catches the midday sun. Inside, another wooden bench runs along the right-hand wall between the kitchen and the door, with a pair of two-person tables in front of it. Meanwhile the courtyard has a three-person table on the right and a two-person one on the left. The best feature, however, is at the back, where a Roman column base stands under a medieval arch, all of which is below the current street level.

Panna has a choice of two Has Bean blends, the more traditional Jailbreak, with its chocolately flavour profile, and Jabberwocky, which is fruitier. I began my day with a very smooth Jailbreak flat white, served in the same white cups that I remember from Panna’s Liverpool days. However, this changing soon, with Panna moving over to HuskeeCups for all its larger drinks.

Panna has several options on filter, which change on a regular basis. While I was there, there were offerings from Square Mile (Redbrick and Los Suspiros from Guatemala) and Workshop (Cerro de Jesus from Nicaragua). At Peter’s recommendation, I had the Los Suspiros through the Chemex, a fine, well-balanced, full-bodied coffee.

I paired my pour-over with lunch. Panna has a small selection of cakes and pastries, with an all-day brunch menu, including classics such as bacon sandwiches, Eggs Benedict and avocado on toast. There are some less typical dishes, including a spicy Mexican brunch and a grilled burger. I remember having an excellent omelette at Panna in Liverpool, so I ordered the Rustic Omelette for lunch, which was packed full of vegetables, a lovely slice of toast on the side.

December 2019: Panna Chester was a runner-up for the 2019 Happiest Staff Award.

35 WATERGATE STREET • CHESTER • CH1 2LB +44 (0)1244 344553
Monday 09:00 – 18:00 Roaster Has Bean (espresso) + Guests (filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window-bar, Bar; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 19:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 19th September 2019

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