EAT OUT TO HELP OUT // GOVERNMENT SCHEME

August is fast approaching which means we are closer to being able to make use of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme – a great way for us as customers to try out lots of new places, & also a way for the hospitality sector to start making a recovery. In order to support the scheme, I’m going to be posting menus from various restaurants that will be taking part in the scheme. Menus will primarily be posted to Instagram @essexfoodies, & will also feature on a highlight specifically for Eat Out To Help Out on my Instagram page.
If you’d like to get a menu featured, send over a PDF copy to essexfoodies@gmail.com & I will be more than happy to get this up!

ESSEX FOODIES ABROAD // PRAGUE

Last August, I visited Prague – a very Instagramable city, even if I do say so myself! With any trip, I’m always excited to try new foods, whether it’s at the accommodation I’m staying at or whether it’s cheap street foods.

Below are a selection of drinks & eats enjoyed throughout my stay. In all honesty, I wouldn’t say there was anything exceptional about the foods I tried, however one place that did stand out to me, was a little bakery/cafe called Bakeshop. Well worth checking out if you visit!

One thing that you seem to see a lot of around the city are these little treats below… They look amazing, but I was disappointed! I found them too heavy & totally impractical to eat.

Have you ever visited Prague? Leave a comment & tell me your thoughts!

ZIYARET // RESTAURANT REVIEW

A little while back in January, Essex Foodies were invited along to what has now become one of my (& my Mum’s) favourite places to eat in Chelmsford. As you read on, you will find out why.

Conveniently located close to Chelmsford train station is this gem of a Turkish restaurant, serving absolutely delicious & fresh dishes. The dishes we enjoyed included mixed olives & bread with dips to begin –  I have to say, the bread & the dips of which were served were absolutely exceptional, everything was flavourful, tangy & tasty. We then followed this with our starters which included tiger prawns & special hellim-sucuk. The prawns served were huge! To me this makes a huge difference, as there is nothing worse than ordering prawns & for them to arrive shrivelled up. The hellim-sucuk (halloumi & Turkish sausage) is one of my favourite Turkish dishes & this did not disappoint, the halloumi was lovely & fresh, not rubbery & the sausage was flavourful – lovely & spicy. Following from our starters, we feasted on the yogurtlu lamb shish & the chefs special king prawns as well as a side of rice. Both of the dishes were again lovely & flavourful, well presented & both generous in portion sizes, especially the shish. Everything we had was ever so fresh. Personally, I would say if you are looking for a meal on a budget, this restaurant would be worth checking out as just a main alone would definitely fill you up! After we had enjoyed our main courses, we devoured a couple of pink gins served with elderflower tonic & fresh fruits – even the drinks tasted so lovely & fresh. On the last leg of our food journey, we enjoyed the desserts coppa rossa & tiramisu – both of these were ice cream based desserts so were not too heavy after a filling meal. The tiramisu wasn’t the standard sponge cake, but a tiramisu inspired ice cream instead. I like the idea of this as sometimes cake after a meal is a bit of a no-no & can end up leaving you feeling uncomfortable. The coppa rossa was yummy! Mascarpone flavoured ice cream served on a bed of digestive crumb – almost similar to a cheesecake but again, not as heavy. All of the food we ate here was absolutely lovely. Turkish is one of my favourite cuisines so discovering this place has definitely found me a new favourite place to eat!

It’s also worth mentioning that these guys also have a great lunch time menu, which can be served up within minutes! We would like to thank Ziyaret for welcoming us to their restaurant, for their exceptional service & for the wine that they also gifted us with. We will most definitely be back in the near future! Thanks again for the invite @ziyaretchelmsford

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MIDDLETONS STEAKHOUSE & GRILL // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Back in January, I was given the opportunity to dine at & review one of the newer restaurants in Chelmsford, Middletons Steakhouse & Grill. As a keen foodie, I had of course already eaten here a couple of times, this was when the restaurant launched their soft opening (offering 50% off the food bill for the first two weeks of trade). If there’s one thing I love, it’s steak, and if there’s one thing I love even more, it’s discounted steak! Both times I had visited previously were fab & food was superb, however on this particular visit, there was something missing, the food didn’t appear to be as up to scratch as it had been. Review will reveal all –

Onto the food – to start, my Mum & I chose the prawn cocktail & the creamy garlic mushrooms. We both liked our starters, they were good in size & both came with bread, however I found my prawn cocktail be quite bland in taste, in particular I thought the sauce lacked in flavour. The mushrooms were nice enough, however nothing stood out. For our mains we opted for the classic mixed grill with a side of onion rings, & the beef wellington with a side of dauphinoise potatoes. I did really enjoy my main, the potatoes were lovely & creamy, really tasty, & the mixed grill was also nice & very generous in size, however we found the meat to be quite chewy which was disappointing, & the onion rings were heavily burnt, leaving the majority of them inedible. In all honesty, I was quite surprised by the quality of the food on this visit as my previous visits had been outstanding – maybe this was down to different chefs working, or maybe it was just down to preference, I’m not too sure. I personally think Middletons is one of the more expensive restaurants in Chelmsford, so with this, I expect quality, unfortunately on this visit, I didn’t think this met expectations.


Desserts! Desserts were absolutely fab – I’m not a Bailey’s fan however I had the Bailey’s white chocolate cheesecake & was converted! The cheesecake was really tasty, & was served with ice cream, so was not over-indulgent. My mum had the Middleton’s Sundae (which I also ate a bit of!) – this was again really lovely, the ice cream genuinely tasted so nice & fresh, & again, as it was ice cream, wasn’t too heavy or over-indulgent.
All in all, we weren’t particularly satisfied with this meal, which I did make Middletons aware of before posting this review, however, saying this, my visit hasn’t put me off at all, as my experiences here before haven’t been bad. I look forward to visiting again to see if there has been any improvement.

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AL KHAYMA // RESTAURANT REVIEW

So a little while back, EF were fortunate enough to have been approached & invited to visit this authentic Lebanese restaurant & shisha lounge in Ilford.

The first thing I noticed when approaching the restaurant, was the sheer size of it – huge! The restaurant is spread over 2 floors, with a shisha lounge to the front. Upon arrival, restaurant manager Ahmed kindly greeted us & showed us to our table – we chose to sit upstairs which has more of an authentic feel & ambience to it (including decorative camel!) The tables here are not your usual restaurant tables, but desert style bedouin – lovely & traditional to say the least! The seating upstairs gently reminded me what it was like when I visited Dubai & had an evening in the desert. Due to the seating arrangements, the restaurant (upstairs) isn’t brightly lit, which i thought was quite nice, & especially relaxing. It was also nice in the sense that it wasn’t too formal – it gave the impression that you could sit, enjoy your time & your food, without staff wanting a quick turnover of customers. I personally felt this made a huge difference to the experience, there’s nothing worse than a restaurant wanting to get you in & out as soon as possible, so top marks here for Al Khayma.

Now, on to the food – for our starters, we ordered up 3 plates between us to share, which was more than enough, you’ve got to remember that you will be served bread/dips/olives anyway, so you definitely don’t want to go too mad with starters. We enjoyed a selection which included the halloumi (you can never go wrong with a bit of halloumi!) this was definitely cooked to perfection, it wasn’t rubbery or squeaky, which sometimes it can be if it’s left to go cold, & the halloumi also had a glaze to it, I’m not too sure what it was but it was very yummy! Kibbeh (which are deep fried lamb meatballs), these were lovely & very filling, as well as the Sojuk, which are home made Lebanese sausages – I especially enjoyed these, the meat was lovely & soft, & they had a nice kick to them. All of the starters were served on a bed of salad which was a lovely touch & refreshing if the starters were too hot/spicy. The salad also just gave the food that little bit extra on presentation.

On to the mains – we opted for our own dishes here rather than a platter, as we thought it would be nice to try more traditional food, so we enjoyed the Farnouj mousakhab, which is a whole baby chicken served with a side salad & chips, although I swapped chips for rice. This was absolutely delicious, the chicken is coated in a garlic sauce which was so, so nice! I have to say, the portion here was huge as well, I was defeated, I don’t think I even managed half – I tried! The other main we ordered up was the Tajine which is lamb cubes & vegetables in a smoked sauce – again, this was very tasty, & plentiful. In particular, I liked how this was served up – very traditional. We decided against desserts, as the food was more than enough. We did however enjoy the tea that was served – this was very nice & refreshing after the large meal.

All in all, we really loved our experience here, the restaurant is really lovely & authentic, & gives you a real Middle Eastern feel. I think the biggest selling point has got to be the shisha lounge – this was busy throughout our time visiting, so Al Khayma are definitely doing something right. I would definitely suggest giving this place a visit, even if it does mean going out of your way – the restaurant is alcohol free, so there is no excuse to not drive! 

We would like to thank Al Khayma for inviting us along, & in particular a big thank you to Ahmed for going out of his way to make sure everything was perfect for us. We look forward to visiting again!

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