THE CRICKETERS (WESTCLIFF) // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Our favourite day of the week at EF is definitely Sunday, as it is the day of good food & indulgence, so when The Cricketers invited us down to try their 3 course Sunday lunch, we were more than happy to oblige.

Now their Sunday lunch menu offers 3 courses at a shockingly low price of just £9.25 per person – seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? And at first, we did sort of wonder just what would be on offer, so naturally we had a peek of the menu to see what we would be getting ourselves in for, and we were pleased to see that there were things we were both happy with.

So, on a bit of a soggy Sunday afternoon we visited the pub – very easy to find, took only around 30/40 minutes from Chelmsford & was hard to miss upon arriving into Westcliff. There was residential parking close by too, so this really is ideal if you’d like to do a Sunday lunch on a budget.

When we entered the pub itself, it was very Covid-friendly – sanitiser readily available & tables really well spaced-out. The first thing we noticed too once we were sat was the fabulous gin menu. The menu was very handy & told you which gins paired with which tonics – perfect! We quickly got our drinks orders in, & both opted for a gin (would’ve been rude not to!) We were served by Giovanna, the bar manager who was ever so friendly & attentive.

Whilst waiting for our drinks, we had a quick glance of the menu. We had already decided what we would go for thanks to our prior nose, however the menu in the pub itself was slightly different & actually offered a couple more things, so there were some slight changes in our decisions.

Our drinks arrived, & Giovanna also explained to us what was in our drinks (dehydrated fruit) & the purpose behind it – definitely a nice little touch getting to understand just why these bits of fruit make it to your drink! At this point, we also placed our food orders, so for starters we went for the pub classic – prawn cocktail, & the lamb & halloumi skewer, & for mains we opted for the roast beef, & the steak & ale pie.

Our food arrived very quickly, I would say we waited no longer than ten minutes for our starters, which was fantastic, there’s nothing worse than being hungry & having to wait ages for your food. The portions were practical – they were small but the mains certainly made up for this. The prawn cocktail was nice & light. A substantial amount of prawns were served on a bed of salad along with four quarters of a slice of wholemeal bread. The prawn cocktail was thoroughly enjoyed & was really tasty. The lamb & halloumi skewer was enjoyable – personally I am not a huge lamb fan, as I find it is very hit & miss but I thought I would give it a go anyway. The lamb was nice, but I did find it a little fatty, however the halloumi definitely made up for this – the halloumi was perfectly cooked & had the right amount of ‘squidge’ to it – I would’ve been happy with just a skewer of halloumi, it was that good! The skewer was also served with a small salad that was coated in tzatziki – this was lovely & fresh, & worked really well with the meat & the cheese. What I also really liked about this being on the menu, was that it was something different from your typical pub food. We were both really pleased with what we received, & were really looking forward to what would come next.

Just like our starters, our mains arrived efficiently – this time, pretty much as soon as our plates had been cleared, the second lot of dishes made their appearance. Both main courses were served as ‘roasts’ so both had all the trimmings of veg including peas carrots & cauliflower cheese, roast & new potatoes, yorkshire pudding, plus gravy & dishes of mustard & horseradish. Our choices were the roast beef & the steak & ale pie. The pair of us were both really looking forward to seeing what the beef would be like – I’ve said before, beef can always go one of two ways, it will either be spot on or it can be really fatty/chewy. We were so pleased to try it & to discover that it was beautifully done! The beef was lovely & had a perfect pink centre. It was really well presented too on the plate & was very generous in sizing. Now, the half of the party that enjoyed the beef roast isn’t a fan of vegetables, but has now been converted due to the cauliflower cheese that was dished up with the roast, so something was done very right here (thank you Cricketers!) Absolutely nothing on this plate was left behind, which says it all really. And at £9.25 – we would’ve happily paid this just for this plate itself, never mind the starter & dessert! We would definitely recommend visiting based on this dish alone.
The second main was the steak & ale pie roast which was huge! The pie was filled with so much meat, & was served with all of the trimmings exactly the same as the roast beef. Unfortunately this time round, the plate wasn’t cleared, only because I was way too full! All of what was eaten was so enjoyable – in particular, the roast potatoes & the cauliflower cheese. The steak was also really good quality, it was lovely & tender.

Next up were our desserts. So there are only 3 things to choose from, so you are quite limited, however at such a low price, you can’t really complain. We shared both of our desserts, as we both wanted to try a bit of each, so our choices here were the cheese board (which has a £1.50 supplement) & the baked jam roll. Again, at such a low price, we didn’t expect a lot, however the jam roll changed everything. What a dessert! Served with cream, this piping hot dessert really blew us over – we were stunned at just how tasty it was! The cheese board didn’t really hold much hope once we’d tried the jam roll, but we still devoured it nonetheless! We enjoyed both desserts, but if we were to tell you to pick 1… it would always be the jam roll!



Thank you so much to The Cricketers for inviting us down – we were totally surprised with just how good the food was, & thank you to Giovanna for such fab hospitality. The pub also offers some themed nights (steak, Italian) which we would definitely consider to try also. We think this place is a gem & look forward to visiting again!

https://www.thecricketersbarandfood.co.uk/

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EAT OUT TO HELP OUT // FISH ON THE QUAY (MALDON) MENUS

BRICK LANE BAGEL CO. // RESTAURANT REVIEW

So here it is… our first ‘lockdown’ outing post! The team at Brick Lane Bagel Co. got in contact with us during lockdown to invite us down to their Theydon Bois branch, which remained opened during lockdown as part of essential services. We were offered a lunch for two, which we thoroughly enjoyed! Our lunches of choice were…
– salt beef bagel with mustard & gherkins
– chicken escalope bagel with melted cheese, lettuce & mayo
plus a couple of drinks (coke & a latte), followed by a delicious, fresh jam doughnut (which we shared between the pair of us as we were full from the bagels!)

The bagels were hearty & delicious! The bread itself was so fresh & so soft, it really contributed to the yumminess of the bagels. The salt beef was ever so tender & truly did melt in the mouth, plus the sheer amount of it was very generous too. The salt beef bagel was absolutely brimming with flavour, thanks to the mustard & gherkins complimenting the beautiful salt beef. The chicken escalope bagel was sensational! A nice big chunk of chicken, served with lashings of lettuce & mayo, plus an oozing cheese centre – it was incredible. Almost like the taste of a chicken burger but much, much better. We opted to have our bagels halved so that between the pair of us, we could each try both different filling, and despite both flavours being exceptional, we agreed that the chicken escalope was our favourite of the two, moreso because it isn’t something either of us would normally go for, but were recommended to try. Following on from our delicious bagels, the pair of us shared a yummy jam doughnut, which just like the bagels, tasted ever so fresh. What also impressed us with the doughnut was the size – forget the typical supermarket sized doughnuts you’d find in a bag, this was double, & of course way better!

What we also picked up on during our time at Brick Lane Bagel Co. was just how busy it was, the business proves to be doing exceptionally well & is clearly a roaring success. During our visit there were always customers present, filling all of the outside seating, despite the lockdown circumstances – this was fantastic to see!

We would also like to point out that this was the friendliest service we have experienced so far – prior to our visit, during & after. Everyone involved could not do enough for us from the staff in the shop itself, to the marketing behind their Instagram page. This is definitely what fantastic customer service is, and it honestly does make all the difference.

Thank you very much to Brick Lane Bagel Co. for inviting us down, we look forward to visiting again.

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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!

MISS TEASMITH – PRODUCT REVIEW

So recently here at Essex Foodies I have had the absolute pleasure of sampling a selection of fine loose leaf teas courtesy of Miss Teasmith. I received samples of 5 different flavours/styles of teas, all very different from one another. The different teas were made up of – 

Ceylon Chai – comprising of Sri Lankan black tea & the spices of this tropical island.

Dark Romance – comprising of Sri Lankan black tea, cocoa shells & nibs, liquorice & mint, described as ‘pudding in a tea cup!’

Rooibos & Passion – comprising of rooibos, passionfruit, rose petals & rhubarb pieces (no caffeine).

Empa-Tea – a ginger & lemongrass herbal infusion.

Earl on the Moor – an orange black tea blend, made with blood orange & lavender.

Each of the teas were exceptionally different from one another, as to be expected, and each offered their very own take on a cup of tea. To start with, the Ceylon Chai was very bold, & very strong. Personally, I love a strong cup of tea (only a splash of milk, no sugar for me), so this is certainly something I would go for every day, alongside Earl on the Moor. EOTM has been my favourite out of the teas as it offers a slight twist on a classic, yet remains mellow & smooth. As I say, I would happily drink these every day! Next up we have got Empa-Tea. I found this tea a little too strong for my liking, I’m not a huge fan of really creative teas so I found this a little bit too overpowering for myself, not because the tea itself was too strong, but more because I find ginger can sometimes be a bit too much, however I would recommend this if you like your teas slightly more different tasting & you like a stronger, more different flavoured bold tea (think along the lines of peppermint for example). Onto Dark Romance, this was the tea I was most excited to try as it offers a completely different take on a cup of tea, described by Miss Teasmith herself as ‘pudding in a teacup’ – essentially dessert with less calories, perfect! I really liked the idea of this tea being dessert like, & it really did get me wondering just what it would taste like, so when the time came, I was not disappointed! The tea is lovely & strong yet sweet & dessert like – something very unusual but a welcomed twist. Lastly we have Rooibos & Passion, another tea I was very much looking forward to trying. I love all things passionfruit, so this was one I was certainly intrigued by. The tea itself was almost peachy, very smooth & full of fruity character. Almost tasting just like summer (think of those iced teas you would purchase in a supermarket on holiday!) It’s a strange way to describe a drink but I would say it was very feminine – perfect for a girls afternoon for example, so forget cocktails, & pour yourself a tea, hot or perhaps wait for it to cool, serve chilled & over lots of ice on a lovely sunny day. 

Thank you so much to Miss Teasmith for getting these lovely teas over to Essex Foodies, with lockdown still ongoing my plan is to enjoy them with friends, as restrictions ease, with some lovely socially-distanced afternoon teas. To get your hands on these goodies, simply visit www.missteasmith.com & sign up for 20% off of your first order, as well as free delivery over orders of £25.

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THE MOUNT (CHINGFORD) // CHRISTMAS MENU

Tonight we are visiting The Mount in Chingford to try out their new festive menu (below). We cannot wait to share our thoughts!

THE DUKES HEAD (BILLERICAY) // FESTIVE MENU

Tonight we are visiting The Dukes Head in Billericay to try out their new festive menu (below). We cannot wait to share our thoughts!

THE GEORGE & DRAGON (EPPING) // FESTIVE MENU

Tonight we are visiting The George & Dragon in Epping to try out their new festive menu (below). We cannot wait to share our thoughts!

THE MOUNT (CHINGFORD) // CHRISTMAS MENU

If you’re looking for a meal a little less formal & definitely on a lower budget then this is your answer! The Mount, situated on Chingford Mount is ideal for a quick catch-up & bite to eat over the festive period. This is somewhere we have eaten before & can recommend!

DUSK (BRENTWOOD) // WHAT’S ON

BELLA CAFE & LOUNGE // BRUNCH REVIEW

Last weekend we visited the lovely Bella Cafe & Lounge (formerly known as Bella Gelato) in Rayleigh. The restaurant is conveniently located just off of the high street, with parking very close by.

At first glance we could see that the cafe/restaurant was exceptionally busy, which indicated something was definitely right here! We arrived & were very quickly shown to our table.

We soon placed our orders, & our breakfasts of choice were the Lebanese breakfast & the traditional breakfast, & our drinks of choice were the chocolate milkshake & coco loco smoothie. Our drinks naturally were first to arrive & they looked amazing! The chocolate milkshake was thick & delicious (& polished off in minutes) whilst the smoothie was exotic & bursting with sweet flavour. Both drinks were very generous on size, & the glass that the smoothie was presented in was in the shape of a pineapple – a really cool touch. Our breakfasts arrived fairly quickly as well considering how busy the restaurant was which was great & definitely shows that the team here work fantastically together & under pressure, so hats off to each & every member of the team! Both breakfasts were huge & looked beautiful on their plates. The Lebanese breakfast was delicious – somewhat similar to a traditional breakfast but with a few pleasant twists, including spicy sausages, poached eggs sprinkled with a little spice, flatbread & outstanding grilled peppers & halloumi. Everything about this dish was incredible! The halloumi especially was cooked perfectly – I would go as far to say that this was probably the best halloumi I have ever had. I would hands down take this breakfast over a traditional fry up any day of the week! The other breakfast was a traditional breakfast, & was unquestionably delicious! Again, everything was cooked perfectly, especially the wonderfully photogenic & instagrammable poached eggs & I’m told the sausages were something else! We followed our breakfasts with a couple of coffees & a brunch ‘dessert’. Our coffees of choice were cappuccino & latte, & our desserts of choice was the strawberry pancakes. After such a filling breakfast, we opted to share a dessert as we knew we wouldn’t be able to get through one each – we definitely made the right choice in doing so because the pancakes were again very, very filling. Both coffees were lovely & smooth, & worked perfectly with the pancakes. The pancakes were outstanding – drizzled with white chocolate & served with fresh cut strawberries, everything about these pancakes was perfect. Absolutely faultless.

I would most definitely return to Bella, the service we received was fantastic, & the food was incredible – not only to eat but also get photos of, as it was so well presented! I’m certainly going to be visiting again, I’m intrigued as to see what the rest of the menu offers throughout the day. Thank you so much to the team here for inviting, warmly welcoming us, & looking after us!

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KULA CAFE // BRUNCH REVIEW

A couple of weeks back we were lucky enough to be treated to a lovely brunch at Kula Cafe – a cute little cafe located right in the heart of London’s bustling shopping district, Bond Street. The cafe itself is situated on James Street, along with many other cafes, bars & restaurants, the perfect spot if you’re looking for lunch whilst shopping.

We were given menus on arrival, & as the day was beautiful we decided to take a seat outside. Seats outside are quite limited, so you’ve got to be ready to pounce as soon as one becomes free. At first, the cafe didn’t appear to be too busy (I think we’d probably missed the breakfast-time rush) but soon began to fill up both outdoors and in – although we were advised that the cafe does get so much busier – I can only imagine how hectic this must be!

Shortly after arriving we placed our order – and on our menus were;
Drinks
– salted caramel & toffee frappe
– Hollywood diet juice
Brunch
– egg florentine halloumi
– halloumi omelette
(we love halloumi here at Essex Foodies!)

Both drinks were delicious! The frappe was creamy & sweet, whilst the juice was fruity & refreshing. Both drinks were of a medium size which was perfect, too much frappe can be too sickly & too much fruit juice can be acidic, but the sizes here were fine & lasted us throughout our visit.

Both of our brunches were also delicious, we were blown away by the sizes of the portions & their generosity on ‘extras’ on the plate. The omelette was served with with a salad garnish as well as a slice of toast, definitely more than enough to set you up for a day of shopping! The omelette itself was completely full to the brim with cheese (no complaints here whatsoever!), & layered with perfectly cooked halloumi – my friend enjoyed this dish & she completely rated it. I went for the eggs florentine halloumi, which was a dish made up of poached eggs, hash brown, Hollandaise sauce, avocado, sauteed mushrooms, halloumi & salad all served on a bed of toast. I was honestly not expecting the dish to be as huge as it was, but I soon managed to work my way through it! Everything about the food was perfect, it looked lovely, was full of flavour & was very filling & kept us going throughout the day without the need to snack on anything – ideal if you are up in London for the day really. I would also say that this give you great value for money, some places would charge extra for the sides of toast & salad but Kula include these, certainly worth noting.

Once we’d finished our ‘mains’ if you like, we were then surprised with a massive Eton Mess waffle! This dessert was humungous but again, we soon found our way through this between the pair of us – my advice here would be that if you do visit, be aware that these desserts are really, really big & would easily be enough for 2 people.
The waffle itself was fluffy & fresh, & all the toppings were again fresh & worked beautifully alongside the waffle. The waffle was stacked with whipped cream, ice cream, meringue & fruits including strawberries, raspberries & blueberries as well as a fruity sauce. It was nice to have refreshing toppings to it rather than it be overloaded with rich chocolate for example (especially with the weather).

The pair of us were astounded by the quality of the food at Kula, everything that we had was superb. Not only was the food very photogenic, but it was tasty – there are no other words for it in all honesty! We would most definitely visit here again, & would recommend trying out Kula if you are ever close by!

A massive thank you to all at Kula for welcoming & looking after us!

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SHAKEN UDDER MILKSHAKES // PRODUCT REVIEW

We have been recently been lucky enough to be approached by a local marketer, who very kindly managed to get us some of the Shaken Udder milkshakes sent out. Shaken Udder milkshakes are produced very locally so being able to review these was definitely something we could not turn down! I’d already seen & heard all about these milkshakes (they are very popular at my place of work & are always picked up along with a meal deal).

We received some cartons of the chocolate flavoured milk, which I would describe as rich, creamy & full-flavoured. The cartons I have to say do look rather small however you should not let this deceive you as one carton is more than enough – any more & it would’ve been far too rich for my liking, plus little cartons are handy for on the go (or even for lunch boxes). The cartons are also really cute & feature a little joke on the back (just like Penguin bars!)

After trying Shaken Udder for the first time, I am definitely inclined to try out more flavours & I look forward to doing so.

A huge thank you to both Nikki & Shaken Udder for getting these out to us to review.

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BANANA TREE // NEW MENU REVIEW

The marketing/Instagram team at Banana Tree recently reached out to us to inform us of their new menu & invited us down to get our opinion on it – an offer we could not refuse!

We visited a few weeks ago now, & were very impressed with what was presented to us. Banana Tree is somewhere that I have visited previously so I knew what to expect, & had an idea of what sort of thing would be on the menu. I visited with my Mum who had not previously been. So first up, we had the prawn cracker basket which is served with a sweet chilli dip. The crackers were undoubtedly a hit with us, we didn’t leave a single one, & the sweet chilli sauce was the perfect condiment to pair with them, it gave a subtle kick to the crackers but didn’t overpower them. For our starters, we had the vegetable spring rolls & Mekong prawns. Both starters were served up very efficiently & were piping hot when they reached our table – perfect. The spring rolls were fresh & crunchy, served with lettuce wraps that completely complimented the dish. The prawns were perfectly cooked – the prawns themselves melted in the mouth, & again the chilli salsa really worked well with & complimented the seafood. As a whole we thoroughly enjoyed our starters & would certainly go for these again, I would also suggest getting them as sides maybe if you like picky bits along with the main course. Looking at the menu, the starter dishes are varied & I think there is definitely something for everyone on the menu, you’ve got the bulk standard dishes such as chicken satay which you can’t go wrong with, as well as the more adventurous dishes that not everyone would probably go for. All in all, we were more than happy with our starter choices.

For mains, we each had a main dish along with a side. Between us, we had;
– Blackened chilli beef with chilli salsa
– Classic sweet & sour stir fry with crispy chicken
– Soya noodles with beansprouts
– Egg fried rice

I have to say, I was very impressed with the beef, as I’ve said before in previous posts, beef can be a tough one to crack but this was perfect, the meat was soft & not chewy in the slightest, a win all round! The noodle dish paired perfectly with the beef also. I was also a little cautious with the beef dish as it was notably a spicy dish on the menu however the beef itself was fine & wasn’t spicy at all – it was only the salsa that had a kick, so nothing to worry about if you ever order this!

The sweet & sour chicken was exceptional! It was full of flavour, loaded with lovely vegetables that gave a crunch to your bite & the chicken was tender, just as it should be. We both loved this dish & would order again & again – it’s a classic that you can’t go wrong with.

Each of the side dishes were also perfect, the noodles were tasty & filling, but also not overpowering in flavour & neither were they too salty or heavily doused in soy sauce – definitely the best thing to pair with a meat dish to bulk it up a little. The rice was also lovely, this was very, very filling but tasty & fluffy, just as rice should be!

What we liked the most about our main choices was that they could be shared, you’re not just limited to what you ordered. This also fits in with what I said about the starter dishes – you could definitely order these & enjoy them alongside your mains.

The main courses were a solid 10/10!

Last but not least were desserts. The dessert menu offers some traditional Indo-Chinese delicacies, so not necessarily things you’d always go for or even heard of, but we came across the warm chocolate Indo-fondant and each enjoyed one of these. The dessert was delicious! It was lovely & warm, rich & sticky, & was very well complimented by the coconut ice-cream served with it. This dessert was simply one of the best we’ve had in our time of reviewing. In particular, we really enjoyed the ice cream. This was creamy & full of exotic coconut flavour.

We really enjoyed our time at Banana Tree & loved the food! We would certainly recommend checking them out. Banana Tree also offer a vegan menu so there really is something for everybody to enjoy. Thank you to all of the team that looked after us on our visit, & for the marketing team for inviting us, we look forward to returning!

THE HALL (LAKESIDE) // LAUNCH

Intu Lakeside have recently undergone a bit of a renovation & are bringing lots more than just shopping to the centre, including this fantastic new food hall. We were lucky enough to be invited down to the launch day & be among the first to try it out.

The event was invite only, & on arrival our names were ticked off on the guestlist before being shown inside. We were then given a voucher (to the value of £10) which could be spent in any of the 6 eateries in The Hall, & presented with a much appreciated glass of fizz.

The 6 street food inspired eateries at The Hall include:
– Baoziinn Chinese
– Fanny’s Kebabs
– Burger & Beyond
– Fundi Pizza
– Mother Clucker
– Curry On Naan Stop

My friend whom I visited with chose to eat from Curry On Naan Stop, & I opted for Mother Clucker.

Each of our meals were great – there was a bit of a wait for both however this was to be expected with the venue being new, & how busy it was, however staff did everything they could to cater for all & made sure everything was perfect. I even managed to blag some extra chicken in my burger for waiting, & my friend managed to get her hands on some free fries – win win all round! We will be back for sure to try out the other stalls!

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FAIRFIELDS FARM CRISPS // PRODUCT REVIEW

Essex Foodies have recently been gifted with a selection of crisps from Essex based Fairfields Farm. Fairfields Farm is a family run farm dedicated to the production of crisps situated in Colne Valley, North of Colchester. The farm sees the entire production of the crisps take place including the potatoes grown & harvested to being hand cooked & package all on site.

The selection we were very kindly gifted offered a fantastic variety of flavours of which included;
– Sweet chilli
– Bacon & tomato
– Sea salt & Aspall cyder vinegar
– Cheese & onion
– Lightly sea salter
– Sea salt & black pepper
– Tomato & herb lentil bites
– Jalapeno & lime lentil bites

We’ve not yet managed to munch our way through all of the packs but once we have, we will give a run down of our favourites & more of an insight of our thoughts.

For more information on this brand & to order yourself please follow this link – https://fairfieldsfarmcrisps.co.uk/.

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