SHWINGS (CHELMSFORD) // RESTAURANT REVIEW

A couple of weekends back we were invited down to one of Chelmsford’s best restaurants, Shwings, in order to see what their Sunday roast was all about. Being a Shwings fan anyway, I had high hopes for this dinner, & I can confirm it did not let me down. The other half of the party, was until this point, a Shwings virgin. He has now seen the light & has safely been converted, all thanks to this phenomenal roast dinner. So first things first, service was exceptional as it always is at this place, friendly & welcoming, efficient, not pushy, recommendations made, it’s all there. Service is also very prompt, our food was served within ten minutes of being seated. Needless to say, we both went for the roast, we both had the 3 course roast and a platter of wings to share (you can’t visit this place & not have them), plus as mentioned, the other half had not visited, so he needed to try all of those flavours! There have also been some new flavour additions since my last visit, so again, it needed to be done.

We kicked our meal off with a couple of starters which were halloumi sticks with chilli jam, which just so happened to be the best chilli jam ever & fried pickles served with a blue cheese dip (I LOVE blue cheese but I know this isn’t to everyone’s taste, but try it, it’s really good, & it isn’t too strong here!) The starters were devoured in about 2 minutes between the pair of us, & we were impressed with what we got. We had huge expectations with what was to follow…

The roast comes in at £15, plus you can upgrade & add starter/dessert for extra £££. The roast itself is made up of 1/2 chicken, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding plus your choice of 2 veggie sides, as well as a very generous jug of the Shwings gravy. The veggie choices include minted peas, garlic carrots, cauliflower cheese & red cabbage with apple. Each of us opted for cauliflower cheese (who doesn’t go for cauliflower cheese?!), as it’s a favourite & also as we were recommended this. I am not lying, this is by far the best cauliflower cheese I’ve ever had, soft cauliflower smothered in a blanket of melted, gooey cheese, mmm! The other sides we chose were the garlic carrots & the red cabbage with apple. The garlic carrots were nice & light, not too heavy on the garlic, balanced just right, & the cabbage was triumphant to say the least! This was the first time I’ve ever tried this particular dish, & it was SO YUMMY. I enjoyed it so much, the first thing I did when I got back home was Google the recipe – this was some top notch stuff! To be impressed by just the veg alone, I think speaks volumes! Of course, the rest of the roast was absolutely wicked, the roast potatoes were perfectly crispy, the Yorkshire pud stood tall & provided sanctum for the delicious gravy (which had a rather nice white wine twang to it – really yummy), & the chicken was spot on, lovely & soft, fell straight off the bone & had the most perfect, crispy skin known to man (I’m an absolute sucker for chicken skin, I don’t care how terrible it is for you!) This really was one hell of a roast, & I would 100% urge you to try it out if you haven’t already. 

After smashing through the roast, we ploughed our way through the platter of wings. The platter consists of 9 different flavoured wings, the flavours are;
– Buffalo
– Honey & chilli (my all time favourite)
– Hoisin
– Sticky orange
– Smoked BBQ
– Jerk
– Sweet Thai chilli 
– Shwings, which is sriracha & miso
– Da Guv’na, which is a grilled wing in Shwing’s very own blend of herbs & spices
All of the above were delicious, as expected. Each & every one has such a unique taste, sometimes it can be hard to decide which is the favourite! The new flavours definitely throw a spanner in the works but I just don’t think anything would ever come between me & my love for the honey & chilli wings.

Following this chicken-based feast, we did, believe it or not, manage to do dessert as well (it took a bit of a breather, but yes, we did it) & we enjoyed sticky toffee pudding (our favourite dessert), this was lovely & fluffy, really deep in flavour, & the best Biscoff cheesecake known to man!! I’ve had a lot of these Biscoff cheesecakes but the time has come, & I’ve found the best one.

Shwings is by far one of the best places to eat in Chelmsford, they know what they’re doing & they do it well, hence the success they have. It wouldn’t have been the most obvious choice for me if you said pick somewhere to go for Sunday lunch in Chelmsford, but I’ve now tried it & love it. I would recommend giving it a try yourself, alllll day long.
A very special thank you to Mark for inviting us down & a huge thank you to all the team who looked after us – genuinely the loveliest, friendliest staff going. [GIFTED] 

THE JOBBER’S REST (UPMINSTER) // RESTAURANT REVIEW

A little while back we visited The Jobbers Rest, which is a cosy pub located in Upminster, not our usual turf, but well worth venturing out to. Naturally, before visiting, we’d had a glance of the menus & were seriously impressed, plus there were a couple of replies to Instagram stories saying how this was a fantastic place to go – we were very excited before we’d even set off.

So we were very kindly invited down by a lovely lady called Karen, who was also our host for the evening – she certainly knows her stuff! Karen kindly showed us around the pub, gave us a bit of insight behind the company, gave us plenty of recommendations, as well as introducing us to other staff members, a true credit to the business. The purpose of the visit was of course to sample the menu, & that is exactly what we did. We enjoyed some divine dishes, some very tempting cocktails & truly exceptional service.

Our scrumptious feast began with some very impressive starters, including;
– Loch Fyne salmon gravadlax, which was served alongside salmon pate, salmon caviar & a horseradish creme fraiche & dill pesto dressing. This dish was absolutely unreal!!! The salmon tasted so, so fresh & was so well complimented by the dressing… this could’ve been eaten about 3 times over, easy! Each ‘part’ of the dish worked so well, & what was nice about this starter too was that it was lovely & light, almost like you’d not eaten a starter at all (plenty of room for mains!)
The second starter was;
Cheese souffle – Another absolutely weapon of a starter! This looked the part too – a fun dish as well, as you got to pour in the cheese sauce, yum! The souffle was lovely & fluffy, & very quickly devoured. We would DEFINITELY order this again!

The starters set the bar very high for mains but we knew we wouldn’t be let down – with everything going so well, we knew we were onto a winner. Our mains arrived promptly, & looked absolutely incredible! We enjoyed;
– Slow cooked Beef Bourguignon – this was mouthwatering, to say the least. The presentation in itself was incredible, & the taste of it, indescribable. With each mouthful of the plate, you got different flavours bursting through, it was absolutely delicious. The meat was so tender, & literally fell to pieces when the fork touched it. By FAR one of the best cooked pieces of meat we’ve tried. The bed of mash was gorgeous too, super smooth & not too much of it to leave you feeling full & bloated. A beautiful, beautiful main. We can see this being a favourite during the winter!
– Jimmy Butler’s free range gammon steak, served with a duck egg & chips. So a slight twist on a pub classic – you can never go wrong with a gammon steak, & boy, was this a steak! The gammon was HUGE, very thick but tender throughout – cooked to perfection. The egg was cooked to perfection as well, with a rich runny yolk, perfect for dipping the chips into! Normally we would season our chips with salt & vinegar but these little beauties needed nothing – they did all of the work for themselves. 
We also enjoyed a couple of sides with the mains which were;
– Dauphinoise potatoes
– Buttered green beans
Both of these were superb. The green beans were perfectly buttery, cooked just right & worked entirely with the bourguignon. The potatoes were another level – these were dreamy. The right dose of garlic, & not too creamy, the one side you NEED to order if you visit this pub!
We were so, so impressed with our mains, all of the plates were completely cleared, bar a few green beans – this says it all!

Despite clearing our plates, we sure as hell had room for desserts – how could we turn our noses up at a third course, when everything else had blown us out of the water?! We went for one of the customers’ favourites, which was recommended, the Pistachio souffle, & Chocolate fondant with spiced orange & passionfruit sauce… wow, wow, wow, WOW! The desserts were EVERYTHING. The souffle in itself was a beast (in a good way of course) & the chocolate fondant was spot on. The souffle was deliciously sweet, & worked perfectly alongside the chocolate ice cream which it was served with, & the fondant was so rich & intense, but nicely broken up with the citrus fruit flavours. To be totally honest, we probably could’ve eaten the entire dessert menu – everything on there is amazing. Different, but things you know will work. Alongside our desserts, we also enjoyed a couple of cocktails, Karen had these made for us as a bit of a surprise, so we had two of the favourites which were the Amaretto Sour & everyones favourite, Pornstar Martini. These were of course sumptuous, (as well as dangerous!) We could’ve easily kept knocking these back, they were doubtlessly delightful.

We were totally astounded with our visit to The Jobbers Rest, truth be told, it wasn’t somewhere we’d heard of before, but we are really glad to have discovered such a beautiful restaurant with such an exquisite menu. We will certainly visit again, there’s just so much on the menu that we’d like to try, & we’ve also heard their Sunday roast is pretty top notch too. Not only is the food good, the level & quality of service we received was what you’d expect to receive in a premium restaurant (where you’re spending hundreds!) Every member of staff we spoke to went the extra mile for us, & nothing was too much. We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at The Jobbers Rest, & of course the wonderful Karen for making this all happen! We are counting the days down til our next visit!

It’s also worth noting that for the PUP-LOVERS, this place is also dog-friendly. If the review wasn’t a reason enough to visit, they even have their own pups too!! Get yourself booked in ASAP!
[GIFTED]

LEON BURGER’S LATEST CAMPAIGN

Thank you to Talker Tailor for the following content

LEON LAUNCHES BETTER BURGERS CAMPAIGN

  • Wide industry call to improve sourcing and nutrition of fast food nationwide
  • Restaurant is also launching a new Burger Meal Deal, a Crispy Chicken Korean Burger and vegan menu innovations
  • New menu available from 8th October in LEON restaurants across the UK
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Naturally Fast Food chain LEON is launching the Better Burgers Campaign, rallying the hospitality industry to improve the nutrition and sourcing of fast food.

The campaign brings to life LEON’s mission to serve naturally fast food that not only tastes good but does good too, with a menu featuring local and responsibly sourced seasonal ingredients. The announcement comes at a time when consumers are challenging restaurants to behave with more transparency and clarity on the nutritional value of their menus.

The Better Burgers Campaign kicks off with the launch of LEON’s new Burger Meal Deal (any burger)1, regular Baked Fries and a no-added-sugar natural fruit juice sparkling can; £8.95) and the new Crispy Chicken Korean Burger. This good-for-your-gut burger is made with raw, fermented kimchi, LEON’s best-selling GFC higher-welfare British chicken nuggets and a zingy Korean mayo.

Each of LEON’s Burgers is truly ‘better’: from the delicious Chargrilled Chicken Burger made with 100% British chicken thigh, which has double the protein of a McDonald’s McChicken Sandwich and more protein than any of KFC’s Chicken Burgers, to the Fish Finger Burger made with MSC fish from sustainable shoals which beats McDonald’s equivalent, Filet-o-Fish.

LEON believes in the power of plants and has increased the number of plant-based dishes on its menu, with a focus always on flavour helping guests to both eat well and look after the planet. In fact, sales of plant-based burgers now equal the number of meat-based burgers2 which couldn’t make the team at LEON happier.

Continuing to innovate in plant-based dishes, LEON is also launching a new Vegan Tagine with Jackfruit & Chickpeas (£4.95) and Sweetcorn Ribs with Parmesan & Truffle (£3.45), welcoming the return of the Brazilian Black Beans (£3.95), and larger Vegan Cheezy Loaded Fries, now topped with hot jalapeños (£3.95).

Continuing its commitment to seasonality, the Grilled Aubergine and Paprika Chicken Plant Boxes have been updated to feature the best of British autumnal roasted veg.

Erica Molyneaux, Head of Food at LEON, said: “It is our mission to continue to give our guests food that tastes good, does good and is kind to the planet. It is time for other restaurant brands to join us in the Better Burgers Campaign and rally for the improvement of food sourcing and nutrition within the fast food industry.

“We’re excited to be launching a new responsibly-sourced burger and a range of vegan sides which continues to show our ongoing commitment to providing innovative, affordable and good-for-your-gut fast food.”

The new menu is available across all LEON restaurants from Thursday 8th October 2020.

JAVA WHISKERS CAT CAFE // PRESS RELEASE

Thank you to Chalmers New PR for the following content

Purrrfect timing for cat café after initial plans ‘paws-ed’ by pandemic

CATS will soon be the talk of London’s West End again – but Andrew Lloyd
Webber will be playing no part in its success. Java Whiskers cat café is set to make its debut on October 31st, six months after its original launch plans had to be shelved due to the pandemic.

Occupying former offices in Great Portland Street, Fitzrovia Marylebone, the venue will entice cat lovers with its winning formula of food and feline
‘therapy,’ something the owners say is needed more than ever.
Behind the concept are three friends from southern Sweden who enjoyed huge success with the launch of their country’s first ever cat café last year.
Self-confessed ‘entrepreneurs with big hearts,’ Jon Bäcklund, Tobias Larsson and Joakim Wessman are also the team behind successful Swedish trampoline park chain Yoump. Tobias Larsson said: “We wanted to find a business that is doing something good. We want to create a great environment for both the cats and humans that is calm and comfortable but also very healing. The café has two primary objectives: to improve the mental health and wellbeing of its visitors and to reduce the rate of cat homelessness. It’s been very challenging due to the unpredictability the pandemic has brought upon us and the public. However, these challenges have made us more determined to stick to our original plans and open our café to offer a bit of positivity to London in the midst of the crisis. We do feel our unique concept of service will be of even greater importance
now. The holistic mental wellbeing benefits of spending time with cats has
been widely documented. So we are delighted we can offer this service to our guests very soon. And we’ve gone above and beyond to make our café COVID-friendly and taken every possible safety measure to give you that peace of mind when you visit us!”

Java Whiskers will foster a maximum of nine kitties at any one time from The Scratching Post Cat Rescue shelter, in Waltham Abbey, until suitable new forever homes can be found among its customers. The purpose-built cattery, in Enfield, has been a labour of love for Susan Delaney for 15 years.
Susan said she saw this as a new opportunity to help tackle the growing
number of unwanted cats in and around London. She added: “I thought it a fantastic idea and it is definitely the first time we will have worked with a cat café and thought it was such a wonderful opportunity to move the charity forward by rehoming to people who will see the cats’ personalities and fall in love. This will help us, as a charity move forward and rescue more cats. There is an ever- growing population of unwanted cats in and around London, so this will help towards the volume of reports we receive.”
The Scratching Post can be contacted at: http://www.scratchingpost.co.uk

Tobias said: “We are very happy and proud of the difference we have made for homeless cats in Sweden and also how much our visitors love our concept so we are super excited to be opening in the UK now.”
Customers to Java Whiskers will be asked to book a time slot ahead of their
visit. The café design includes elevated shelves and walkways as well as plenty of ‘escape spaces’ for the animals. And the cats’ welfare is paramount with a set of important guest rules, including no running, keeping noise to a low level and no picking up the resident kitties, feeding them or waking them when they’re asleep. Children under 10 will not be permitted and it’s strictly shoes off and hands washed upon entering.
The top level of the two-storey 2,000 sq ft unit will be dedicated to providing a premium customer experience, including a menu of hot and cold drinks,
sandwiches, pastries and salads, while downstairs the cats are afforded plenty of private space.
It’s the first of a series of cat cafés being launched in the UK by the
entrepreneurs who are already eyeing up plans for more in the future.
More information is available at: https://javawhiskers.co.uk or, for enquiries, contact manager Michelle Nykvist at: info@javawhiskers.co.uk

Bookings can now be made through https://javawhiskers.co.uk/booking-info

T’S FRIED SCOOP // NEW BUSINESS

Thank you to Goho Ltd for the following content

London’s Newest Dessert Trend Has Arrived in Shoreditch


● T’s Fried Scoop, fried ice cream desserts, arrived in Brick Lane, East London on 25th July
● The dessert craze is unlike anything tasted before in the UK
● T’s Fried Scoop is fried ice cream, inspired by a blend of Mexican and Japanese desserts

On Saturday 25th July, the UK’s newest dessert craze arrived to the Truman Brewery Upmarket, Shoreditch. (91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL)
The dessert trend is fried ice cream but it’s unlike anything England has ever seen before. The ice cream is inspired by a blend of Mexican and Japanese desserts. The ‘fried scoop’ is a combination of hot and cold desserts in one. The deep fried ice cream has an outer cookie-dough shell that is rolled in breadcrumbs that form a crispy layer but can also be covered in either cornflakes or Oreos. The founder describes it as “a hot, fried crust, coated in breadcrumbs, cornflakes or Oreos, wrapped around a decadent ice cream”.

The fried ice cream enthusiast and founder, Natasha, commented, “When I first tried fried ice cream, I was amazed! It was unlike anything I’d had before. I became so obsessed that I began practising and practising, using lots of methods from various cultures. This is why T’s Fried Scoop is so unique, because we’re a blend of so many different methods!”
The dessert maker is committed to making sure their desserts are inclusive, which is why T’s Fried Scoop has plenty of options, with their Matcha Ice cream being Vegan, and some toppings being Gluten free, there is something for everyone. The desserts are entirely vegetarian and
kosher, and Natasha is busy working on an entirely Vegan and Gluten free menu.

T’s Fried Scoop T’s Fried Scoop are located in the Truman Brewery Upmarket every Saturday from 11am-6pm and every Sunday from 10am-6pm. The fried ice cream is inspired by similar South Indian, Mexican and Japanese desserts but this is a totally unique recipe, and experience.

TWELVE BURGER & BEER (SOUTHEND) // RESTAURANT REVIEW

A few weeks back, we visited Southend’s latest burger restaurant Twelve Burger & Beer. (Please bear in mind, the latest Covid restrictions were not in place when we made our visit). The restaurant itself is located in the heart of Southend, making it ideal to stop off for a snack if you’re out shopping, or perhaps a cocktail or two after getting off the train from work. We visited on a rainy Thursday evening, & enjoyed some yummy food! Sadly no alcoholic drinks for us (other than a small glass of prosecco on arrival – which was a really lovely touch), as we were driving. The restaurant runs a fantastic offer of 241 on ALL alcoholic beverages between 5 & 7pm, so it really is the place to pick up a couple of drinks. We saw several cocktails carried through the restaurant during our visit, & they all looked fab. We were gutted we couldn’t try some! We did however indulge in some fantastic food – we each upgraded our burgers to a ‘meal’ so as well as the burger, you get chips & a drink included in the price. Our burgers of choice were…
– Bacon Cheese Burger. This was delicious! The caramelised onions were what totally made this burger, it added a huge depth of flavour. I wish I’d gone for the double tbh! However, saying this, the burger itself was very big & I did need cutlery to make my way through it, or else it’d have slipped straight out the bun. This would definitely be ordered again!
– The Twelve Chicken Burger. Another delicious burger! The chicken on this was lovely & tender, with it being chicken thigh rather than fillet. This was quite nice to see actually, as most places will use chicken breast, but thigh is much more juicier – this was very welcomed. The only little tweak that we would probably make to this burger would be using mayo, as we much prefer mayo in a chicken burger. The sauce in this was almost like a raita, which was nice, but just not to our preference.
The burger menu itself wasn’t too extensive which we think is a GOOD thing – too much to choose from can be overwhelming, & with a smaller menu, this allows the restaurant to really perfect what they have on offer.
Each meal came with a portion of chips which were lovely – these didn’t need seasoning at all, & were wolfed up! Following our meals, one of us enjoyed a gorgeous vanilla milkshake – this was SOOOO yummy! It wasn’t thick, as we expected it to be, however, you should not let this deceive you! This milkshake was absolutely bangin’! All of the food was really nice & we enjoyed our visit here, just a couple of little bits that we think could’ve been improved – our meals didn’t come out at the same time, which meant one of us had to wait for the other, just a little timing issue, & secondly, we found the music a little too loud over dinner – we are all for music, but we would’ve probably preferred this if we were having a drink!
Thank you very much to @ for having us – we look forward to popping in again! [GIFTED]

BOSPORUS // NEW LONDON RESTAURANT OPENING

Thank you to Posh Cockney for the following content.

This September, Bosporus will open its doors to guests in Leicester Square, serving incredible Turkish cuisine, available for eat in and take away.

The wait is finally over. Your Bridge to Traditional Turkish cuisine is ready. Not booked your table yet? What are you waiting for!?

London’s Leicester Square is the new home for this Dubai born restaurant, transporting you across the globe without leaving the heart of London. Where the Turkish roots and culture of yesterday, meet the highest quality and standards of today.

Bosporus started in Dubai in 2010 by GCS and now has six sites across the country, as well as venues located in Abu Dhabi and Egypt. They are very excited to be sharing their story with London. Expect a cosy, but lively dining experience whilst you make your way through their delicious and eclectic menu. London’s new Bosporus location will reflect Turkish architecture and culture with a contemporary twist. The spacious interiors are ergonomically designed to create a comfortable, cosy and relaxing vibe, perfect for all occasions.

Turkish cuisine is one of the most varied in the world, this is due to its unique location and influences from its surrounding countries. At Bosporus, specialities include the Ali Nazik Kebab which is a delicious smoky aubergine dip mixed with yogurt and topped with minced lamb. If you’re looking for a lighter option, Sehriye is a slow cooked succulent chicken soup
with vermicelli rice, tomato and a touch of cumin. If you’re in the mood for some fresh seafood, the Shrimp Saç Kavurma is a popular and authentic Turkish dish made with an appetizing Turkish rice surrounded by sautéed shrimp and vegetables. The part that we have all been waiting for, end your meal on a sweet note and try the iconic Sarma Baklava, an authentic Turkish baklava made with handmade filo pastry, melted sugar and pistachio.

The restaurant gets its name from the Strait, which runs through the centre of Istanbul, separating European Turkey from Asian Turkey. This makes Istanbul the only city in the world to be spread across two continents.

All of Bosporus’ restaurants are managed by passionate culinary professionals with Turkish roots and great knowledge about the foods that they will be serving you.

Bosporus is the perfect destination for families and friends looking to make unforgettable memories over magical Turkish Food.

Keep up to date and visit the Bosporus website at http://www.thebosporus.co.uk or check out their Instagram page @thebosporusuk.

MASTERCARD TO PROVIDE FREE FOOD FOR DINERS!

Thank you to Talker Tailor for the following content.

Mastercard teams up with OpenTable to pick up the bill for diners giving them Priceless Surprises throughout September as part of Dine Local restaurant month

Throughout September OpenTable and Mastercard will be celebrating Dine Local, a month-long homage to dining out, with more than 200 restaurants offering special offers, set menus and added value offerings to diners across the UK and Ireland.

As part of this, Mastercard and OpenTable have also teamed up to surprise and delight lucky diners at 30 restaurants in 30 days across the UK and Ireland with the chance to eat and drink for free* in one of the participating Dine Local restaurants. Every evening during September, Mastercard will treat diners, who are in the right place at the right time, with a Priceless Surprise by paying their bill including food and soft drinks at one of the restaurants taking part in the wider Dine Local campaign.

The UK’s dining industry has experienced a hard few months and whilst diners are showing confidence in eating out again, the Dine Local campaign has been initiated to encourage people to continue to dine out and support their local restaurants and community going forward.

Additionally, as part of the campaign restaurants across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin will offer limited-time, great-value specials to showcase their menus and attract diners. Restaurants get the chance to reconnect with their loyal clientele while attracting new diners to take part in an uplifting local initiative, and diners have a unique opportunity to try out neighbourhood gems while supporting local restaurants. Visit www.opentable.co.uk/restaurantweek to discover the Dine Local restaurants taking part and the special menus available.

The first Priceless Surprise will take place in Hertfordshire on 1st September, before moving to London then across the country to bring truly Priceless moments to diners. OpenTable asks diners to book and support the Dine Local restaurants during the month of September to enjoy great special offers and menus, and be in with a chance to have their bill picked up by MasterCard and OpenTable. 

Angela Altvater, Marketing Director, OpenTable EMEA commented “We are pleased to see that the restaurant sector in the UK is slowly recovering. It is clear that many people really missed the experience of dining out at a restaurant over the past few months. As a partner to the industry, it is particularly important for us to help the restaurant community get back on their feet and to get diners excited about dining out again and rediscover old and new favourites in their local area.”

Janne Karppinen, Head of Retail at Mastercard commented on the campaign.“It is great to see people back in restaurants and eating out safely with friends and families. 2020 has been a hard year so we’re pleased to work with OpenTable to bring moments of joy and excitement to customers. We have extended the offer not only to Mastercard customers, but to everyone who is in the restaurant at the right place on the right night – a truly Priceless Surprise.”

All the signs show that people in the UK are eager to get out to dine again. In a recent survey1 conducted by OpenTable, 65% of Brits answered that the thing they were most excited about restaurants reopening was eating delicious food. 94% of those surveyed stated that the support of local restaurants is important to them and 62% said they planned to eat out more or at least as often as before the lockdown.

*Alcoholic drinks are not included 

1Source: OpenTable Survey on Dining out after lockdown. 32,000 people in the United Kingdom of different age, sex and geographical origin in the UK participated in the survey. The survey was sent out through the OpenTable email newsletter. Data collection took place between June 24th and July 2nd 2020 through an e-survey on Survey Monkey.

About Mastercard:
Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About OpenTable:
OpenTable, part of Booking Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), powers reservations for the hospitality industry. OpenTable’s software seats more than 1 billion people per year and helps more than 60,000 restaurants, bars, wineries and other venues attract guests, manage capacity, improve operations and maximize revenue.

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!

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 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!

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!

#AD #GIFTED

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!

DUSK // INTERNATIONAL FINE DINING AWARD

Congratulations to Dusk on winning this fantastic award. We had the privilege of visiting this exceptional restaurant when it first launched & can totally see why it has come this far so soon. Thank you to Avocado Media for supplying the following press release.

PRESS RELEASE
DUSK Restaurant scoops Global Hospitality Award

DUSK Restaurant in Brentwood, Essex, has scooped a prestigious LUXlife Magazine Global Hospitality Award for fine dining, within months of opening.

Following a soft opening in June ahead of a glittering official launch at the beginning of July, the restaurant and shisha lounge as quickly established itself as one of Essex’s top destination venues, and is busy throughout the week and fully booked every weekend. Having already generated thousands of social media followers, it is apparent from customer comments that DUSK has become the place in Essex to go and be seen.

A unique venue, DUSK provides a multi -purpose hospitality destination, offering dinners a selection of world cuisines, with a choice of fine, casual and private dining experiences with live music and entertainment in the popular alfresco shisha lounge.

The award for Best Fine Dining Shisha Experience, came as a complete surprise for venue co-owner Sharif Uddin, who had not known the venue had even been nominated.

“I knew we were doing something right, because of the overwhelming positive customer feedback, the packed tables and the fact that we already have a top four restaurant of over 3,000 listings on TripAdvisor – for any cuisine – in the whole of Essex. But to win such an accolade, so quickly. came as a complete shock,” he said.

DUSK’s executive head chef Steve Gomes is no stranger to winning top awards.  He received two AA Rosettes for his former restaurant, Moksh – the first Indian restaurant in Wales to achieve this. He was named ‘Ethnic Chef of the Year’ at the Craft Guild of Chef’s Awards and represented Wales on BBC2’s Great British Menu. He won ‘Curry Chef of the Year’ at both the Welsh Curry Awards and the English Curry Awards. He has held the title of ‘Best UK Indian Chef’ with the Cobra Good Curry Guide for a large part of a decade; and was crowned the ‘Outstanding Asian and Oriental Chef of the Year’ at the House of Lords.

“This latest award is a great achievement for the entire team in delivering a unique fusion of Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, using the finest produce sourced locally,” said Gomes, adding, “It’s also a great testament to the adventurous nature of the people of Essex, who have taken to our cooking style with such enthusiasm.”

LUXLife awards coordinator Edward Faulkner commented: “DUSK has demonstrated excellence and commitment to the hospital industry.  We showcase the individuals and enterprises who offer outstanding gastronomic delicacies.  The awards acknowledge the best establishments offering sumptuous cuisine from across the globe.” 

Published quarterly, LUXlife covers all aspects of highend lifestyle, including the finest, food and drink, hotels and resorts, health and beauty, automotive, jewellery, art and technology from around the world.  It is distributed globally to an affluent readership of 280,000, attracting over 1.8 million views in the past year. www.lux-review.com

With three discrete dining areas each with its own menu, the restaurant, which caters for up to 400 customers, has been transformed with an investment of almost £1million by restauranteurs Sharif Uddin and Shakil Islam.

Sourcing the finest produce from local farmers, butchers and fish mongers, Gomes has designed a menu which requires a second reading to appreciate fully. The ‘Fish and Chips’ is in fact John Dory in a premium batter, with rose infused ketchup, grape tartar sauce chips and a peas mouse.  Another signature fish dish is Black Cod, pan-fried and served on a bed of cherry tomatoes and garlic, topped with rhubarb aioli, infused with CO2 essence, served with steamed rice.  A unique Turf and Surf, pairs lamb shank with lobster. 

There is also a DUSK Till Dawn dish, featuring a prime marble 3-5 wagyu ribeye steak, with a stilton cheese sauce, quail’s egg, roasted potatoes, sautéed pakchoi and C02 tomato gazpacho.

For vegans, there is a Tofu Shashlik with almond milk roux, served with rice and chips – and special versions of the Momo, Ratatouille, Hakka Noodles, American Chop Suey, and on Sundays, a Toad in the Hole.

No alcohol is sold on the premises, but customers may bring their own.  There is no corkage charged – representing a considerable saving for connoisseurs of fine wines and premium spirits. The bar stocks the largest range of alcohol-free drinks in the UK and serves a vast array of mocktails, still and sparkling wines, and beers.

The extensive shisha menu features Savacco, Sarbuzz and Al Fakher flavours, priced from £25. The premium Shapes Shisha costs £130, with a £15 premium for the ice upgrade.

Inside DUSK there is space for around 130 diners to sit in the main restaurant, with an occasional pianist and an open kitchen barbeque area. Outside, there is another 150 seats in the alfresco dining area in pergola with detachable roof where people can smoke flavoured shisha and eat from the street food menu.

For weddings and private functions, there is a separate banqueting room overlooking the golf course, which can cater for parties of more than hundred dinners.

Business partners Sharif Uddin and Shakil Islam, own five other Essex venues. The portfolio comprises Aladdin’s shisha lounge in Ilford, Empire shisha lounge in Romford plus and three Kushi Indian restaurants in Lakeside, Canvey Island and Gidea Park.

With parking for over 500 cars, a short distance from junction on the M25 (J28) and served by a fast train service from London’s Liverpool Street Station.

Stephen Gomes is a Welsh executive chef and TV television personality, originally from Mumbai, he is renowned for his molecular gastronomic take on Indian recipes. He is a fourth-generation chef, His father, James Gomes, worked at India’s first five-star beach hotel there, before working in, USA and UK, as an executive chef in hotels and restaurants. Stephen’s grandfather served as a chef on board a battleship during World War II.  His great grandfather was Head Chef at the Eastern Shipping Company during the Raj.

In 2015, he was awarded two AA Rosettes for Moksh; the first Indian restaurant in Wales to do so. He was named Ethnic Chef of the Year at the Craft Guild of Chef’s Awards 2015.  In August 2015, Stephen was chosen to represent Wales on BBC2’s Great British Menu. Other accolades including the Ethnic Chef of the Year Award at the UK Craft Guild of Chef’s award 2015; Goldstar Welsh Curry Chef of the Year at the Welsh Curry Awards 2014; and Goldstar English Curry Chef of the Year at the English Curry Awards 2013. He has held the title of ‘Best UK Indian Chef’ with the Cobra Good Curry Guide for a large part of a decade. At a ceremony at the House of Commons, Stephen Gomes was crowned the Outstanding Asian and Oriental Chef of the Year 2017.

Lounge/Shisha Dining (last order 23:00)
CLOSED MONDAYS (excludes Bank Holidays)
16.00 – 23.55 Tuesday – Thursday
16.00 – 01.00 Friday – Saturday
13.00-00.00 Sunday

A la carte Restaurant
CLOSED MONDAYS (excludes Bank Holidays)
18:00 – 22:30 Sunday – Wednesday
18:00 – 23.00 Thursday – Saturday
13.00 – 22.00 Sunday

Restaurant: Over 12s Dining Only
Shisha Lounge: Strictly Over 18s
Bring Your Own Alcohol Venue no Corkage
Vegan/Gluten Free options
Smart/Casual Dress Code Restaurant
No hats, No tracksuits, No sportswear
No alcohol sold on premises

DUSK
Ongar Road
Brentwood
Essex
CM15 9SS
T: 01277 424 987
enquiries@duskbrentwood.co.uk
www.duskbrentwood
@duskbrentwood

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!

#AD #GIFTED

THE LEATHER BOTTLE // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Last Friday Essex Foodies made a trip to this wonderfully cosy pub set in the pretty & picturesque village of Blackmore. The pub is super easy to find, & took around 15 minutes to reach from from Chelmsford by car – so not too far out at all. Upon arrival & at first glance, the first thing we noticed was just how (with cars) busy it was – this was not a problem for us as we had a table booked, however with this in mind, if you plan on visiting (which you should do once you’ve finished reading this), I would strongly recommend booking just to make sure you are not left waiting.

So first off, we were shown to our table which was inside & looked out onto the gorgeous beer garden – the garden being in full swing all thanks to the wonderful sunshine we’ve seen recently. We ordered our drinks & had a glance over the menus – we were given the evening menu & the specials menu. The menus I would say offer typical pub dishes but with a modern & much more gourmet approach – simple but to an exquisite standard.

After glancing over both menus, we soon came to decide what we were going for – both my starter & main I chose from the specials menu, & Mum opted for both courses from the evening menu. Everything on the menu sounded fantastic but there was just something about the specials that just stood out for me, so on the menu for myself, there was to start – haddock & leek fishcakes followed by the chicken wellington, & for Mum there was the prawn & crayfish cocktail to start followed by a main of beer battered haddock & chips (definitely always a winner on a Friday evening!)

The kitchen wasted no time in getting our starters served up, both plates arrived within around 10-15 minutes which was perfect.

As you can see from the above photographs, the food was remarkable! Mum commented on the size of her prawn cocktail & said that it was huge – we tend to find that normally with prawn cocktails you get less of the fish & definitely more of the lettuce, however this was not the case at all here – there was more than enough, & the bread was also generous with 3 slices on the side. Another thing that Mum was really pleased with was, believe it or not, the butter! I can vouch for this also though – most places will normally serve you really hard butter that doesn’t spread at all, this was perfectly spreadable & didn’t contribute to any holes in the bread! It’s the little touches like this that really do make a difference & you do notice.

The fishcakes that I had were impeccable. They were light, fragrant & very more-ish. The haddock was a good choice as the main ingredient as it’s not overly (as silly as it sounds, a fishy-fish) but gives a nice subtle flavour which is very well complimented by the fresh taste of leek. If these were a main at the restaurant, I would definitely go for them.

On to the mains! As you know, I went for the chicken wellington & Mum the beer battered haddock & chips. I think the pictures below say it all really! The haddock & chips was a roaring success with Mum – she loved every bite. The fish made a welcome change to the usual cod, it was delicate & flaky, with a crisp & fresh batter. Chips were second to none! You cannot beat a good pub chip. The meal itself is available in either small or large, Mum went for the small & this was plentiful, especially after a starter. At first glance she did question whether it would be enough but this soon changed as she quickly became full.

The chicken wellington was tender, juicy & delicious. The chicken itself was wrapped in prosciutto ham & spinach enclosed in a perfect & glossy pastry casing. I would absolutely recommend trying this dish, it was slightly unusual & made a change from beef wellington but in a good way! The chicken was served on a bed of wild mushroom sauce which was lovely & rich, & with green beans & new potatoes. I personally find green beans can be a tough one to get right & they can often ‘squeak’ but these did not – they were perfect & not a single thing was left on my plate! Even the potatoes were cooked to perfection.

After finding a little more space in our tummies, & after eyeing up the menu we of course decided to go for desserts.

I was torn between desserts – sticky toffee pudding is my all time favourite (I love to try & have this everywhere so I can find the best) & my go to, but with the weather being as gorgeous as it was, I could not miss the opportunity to go for the summer-fitting mango cheesecake. Mum followed in my footsteps & went for the summery eton mess. We were both delighted with our choices. Both desserts were fruity & tangy, & in all honesty, the right amount after the other 2 dishes we’d had. The pair of us would definitely pick these desserts again & again.

Another fantastic little feature is that the pub also boasts an extensive gin menu which also gives guidance on which tonic to pair to each gin – perfect with or without dinner!

We unquestionably loved our evening here, so much so that Mum booked a table whilst we were there & was back over the same weekend – this doubtlessly shows just how favourable we found this place to be. Everything was spot on, even down to the tiniest detail such as the butter (as mentioned). The pub offered such a warming & cosy atmosphere, & this was on a hot summer’s day so I can only imagine just how lovely it would be in the winter – I’m certainly excited to make a visit over Christmas as I think this will be lovely, & I will certainly be back before then anyway!
To put it simply, The Leather Bottle offers good, honest food & exceptional service & this is really everything I look for when it comes to planning an evening out. Thank you so much to all at The Leather Bottle for welcoming & looking after us, everyone here is a real credit & should be proud of their work! We look forward to visiting again soon in the very near future.

#AD #GIFTED

GRAND TRUNK ROAD // RESTAURANT REVIEW

A while back, we were approached by a marketing agency who offered us the chance to dine at Grand Trunk Road, a restaurant located in the heart of South Woodford. Naturally, we were delighted with the request & soon found ourselves booked in. A couple of weeks passed & soon enough, the arranged date came round.

At first glance, the road where the restaurant is located seemed quiet & as if there wasn’t a lot going on, neither (from the outside) did the restaurant look very busy which put a little doubt in our minds, however this was all about to change. The door opened to reveal what is definitely a hidden gem.

The restaurant was at full capacity with not an empty table in sight, proving that it really is what’s on the inside that counts. The restaurant was dimly lit, giving the place a real chilled out feel and a really pleasant tone – perfect for an evening of cocktails & gorgeous modern Indian cuisine.

Upon arrival, we were kindly greeted & shown to our table, then presented with the drinks menu. I had already decided that I wanted to go for a cocktail – it was just a case of making the difficult decision of which one. I chose to go for Calcutta Night Rider, a vodka based cocktail, & lethal if I may say so! As with all cocktails, this was so easy to drink & I could’ve definitely drunk them all night long! My Dad played it a little safer than myself & went for a Cobra beer.

Once our drinks had arrived, we made our food order, & then indulged on a Poppadom Basket complete with chutneys. The poppadoms were light & crispy, just as they should be & the different chutneys were full of flavour & left a sweet taste in our mouths. We chose to share a starter from the Grill & Tandoor section of the menu & our starter of choice was the Bangali Basket – a medley of different fish dishes, comprising of a grilled King Prawn, salmon, seafood cake & seared scallop. Each sample of fish was fantastic, not a single bit went untouched. The component that stood out for both my Dad & I was the salmon, it was genuinely the nicest & probably best cooked salmon the pair of us have both ever tried. The fish itself was of good quality, very thick & meaty-almost, & the flavour was just spot-on. If I’d had known how good the salmon was going to be, I would’ve chosen this for main course. All of the other components making up the fish starter again were of very good quality & more than satisfied the tastebuds. This leads me onto the mains, where we each picked a separate main but shared rice & bread. For mains, I opted for Amritsari Butter Chicken & Dad the Kabul Ka Hiran Tikka (Venison), & we shared Zaffrani Pulao Rice & Missi Roti. One thing that we liked about the menu & the dishes was that it wasn’t your typical Indian with the usual suspects, but a much more modern & with a twist Indian cuisine.

My main of butter chicken was thick, rich, creamy & pleasantly mild. It didn’t look a lot size-wise but once I started to get through it, I quickly started to feel myself feeling full. I did however manage to finish the bowl! In hindsight, I think we would’ve been better off having a rice each as I found I had a lot of sauce left with nothing to accompany it. Overall for me, this is without fail something I would have again. To say that Dad enjoyed the venison would be the understatement of the century – I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone as thrilled as he was to see a venison dish at an Indian restaurant! To be fair, this is not something I’ve ever seen before, so I loved that Grand Trunk Road’s menu was slightly unusual. Dad described the dish as cooked to perfection & highly recommends it to anyone that visits the restaurant.

Following from our mains, we indulged in some delicious desserts. I went all out & even went for a dessert cocktail too, so I took pleasure in devouring a slice of almond & orange cake which was perfectly light & fluffy, & offered subtle citrus-y hints with a sweet crunch, washed down with a full-bodied & very potent espresso martini. Dad went for a classic slice of chocolate cake, which was luxuriously rich & fit for a king! As with the rest of the meal, not a single mouthful of either desserts were left. They were each very different from each other but both heavenly.

We both rated this restaurant very highly, & Dad went as far as to say that this was by far the best Indian restaurant he has had the pleasure of dining at, which is very bold statement. I certainly loved it here too, & would definitely recommend giving this place a visit – I think if you were to visit you would be captivated by what the restaurant has to offer.

Thank you very much to each & every member of the team at Grand Trunk Road who made our evening what it was, & a special thank you to Chef Sharma who took time out of his working day to come & speak with us, & give us an in-depth insight into his career of which he is so passionate about, & last but certainly not least, thank you to Plus 1 Communications for setting this opportunity up for us.



GIGGLING SQUID // NEW MENU PREVIEW

Early last week, we were given the fabulous opportunity of previewing Giggling Squid’s new menu. This was certainly an offer that we simply couldn’t say no to. I’d always heard great things about this restaurant but just had never got round to actually visiting, so when I received an email offering us a place at the preview, there was only ever going to be one answer, and that answer was YES!

The evening was one of the more formal evening’s Essex Foodies had been to, however it was very insightful & interesting to find out more behind the restaurant & business itself, as well as future plans & developments.

The purpose of the evening was for Giggling Squid to show off their new menu & what they had been working on – & it did not disappoint. Their menu is hugely extensive & really does spoil you for choice, although we were very lucky as we got to sample pretty much all of the starters. As you will see from the below photos, there was plenty on offer.

The menu itself was extensive & left nothing to be desired – you’ve got dishes for those that prefer something slighty more plain, & you’ve certainly got dishes for those that are a little more adventurous! Giggling Squid also offer a fantastic & very fairly priced lunch menu which comes in at around a tenner (per person) for a Thai tapas lunch – perfect if you want to get to try dishes.

When it came to mains, each guest could choose a main dish plus a side – I opted for crying beef with a side of noodle & bean sprouts. I was very pleased with my choice – the food was simply fantastic! It was cooked to perfection & certainly satisfied my tastbuds. All of the other mains looked amazing too & I think I would be right in saying that there was definitely a little food envy in the air!

The food was beyond expectation – both in flavour & presentation. Not only was each dish was powerful & bursting with flavour but also looked fantastic too (personally I think noodle-y type dishes are not always photogenic & can be difficult to get decent pictures of). Because the food was so tasty, I would most definitely recommend & would 100% return.

Desserts were also exceptional – we shared a few between the table & everyone enjoyed what they tried.

There was also one other thing that really stood out on the evening which deserves a mention & that was how busy the restaurant was & stayed. We visited on a Tuesday evening & the restaurant was bustling & didn’t die down at all. Even by the time we left (around 9.30pm), the restaurant was still packed. To me, this is a huge achievement & proves that Giggling Squid isn’t lacking in demand. I feel that nowadays restaurants during the week tend to depend heavily on set menus to bring in custom – Giggling Squid is a whole different kettle of fish.

Thank you to all at Giggling Squid for inviting us along & allowing us to sample the new menu – we loved it! We will definitely be back again in the near future, make sure you check them out too!

STREET EATS’N’BEATS

Street Eats’n’Beats takes place in Chelmsford on 24th August & promises fun for the whole family. With a variety of delicious street foods on offer along with cocktails, & live entertainment, what better way to spend your bank holiday weekend?

Tickets for the festival are available here – https://www.streeteatsnbeats.com/events/street-eats-n-beats-2019

& for more information, please see below the official press release

PETTY 4S // RESTAURANT REVIEW

A couple of weeks ago, Essex Foodies very politely received a message on Instagram inviting us to come along & visit this brand new restaurant in Canvey. With the restaurant being so new, there was very little to go by (no website, nothing on Tripadvisor), so we were pretty much going in blind, other than what we had seen on Petty 4s Instagram page (all of which looked incredible). Our visit did not disappoint, & our review will show you exactly why.

We visited Petty 4s on Friday evening, so a nice little treat at the beginning of the bank holiday weekend. Upon arrival, manager Leah showed us to our table & advised that we would not be choosing from the menu, but rather sampling a few dishes from the menu so that we could get a feel for it all.

To begin, we enjoyed some homemade sourdough bread with butter. The bread was exceptionally good, & extremely more-ish, we tried to resist asking for more as we didn’t want to get too full before we had even started but we soon gave in!

For our starter(s), we enjoyed crab ravioli followed by garlic chicken. In all honesty, I was a bit nervous with the crab as when I have tried it before, I’ve not liked it. I’ve found it to be, as silly as it sounds, too fishy. I still gave it a go, & was very pleasantly surprised! Everything at Petty 4s is made from scratch, so the pasta had been freshly made & the crab had been brought it fresh from Billingsate Market (alive!) & prepared by Chef Alfie in the kitchen. The ravioli was absolutely lovely & would definitely be something I’d order in future.

Next up was the garlic chicken. A simple dish very well presented, as you can see.

The chicken was nice, & I did enjoy it, however it wouldn’t be something I would necessarily order (just personal preference). I did really enjoy the bed of spinach & sweetcorn which it came on – an unusual combination of flavours that worked.

Next up on the menu was steak… (woohoo!) I absolutely love steak & will quite often order one if I go out for dinner, so I was very excited to try it Petty 4s-style.

The steak was cooked medium-rare & was served with fondant potatoes, caramelised onion & parsnip puree, all of which were fantastic. The steak itself was melt-in-the-mouth & left nothing to be desired. I would certainly order this for myself, & would definitely recommend it.

Following on from our steak main, we enjoyed two different desserts – lemon posset & chocolate cake.

The lemon posset was lovely, light & refreshing, almost a palette cleanser after our main meal. The portion size was just right, & I especially loved the modern/trendy bowls that the dessert was served in. If you ever happen to be in Canvey along the seafront, I would definitely recommend popping in & getting yourself this over an ice cream!

And finally.. The chocolate cake!

The chocolate cake was delightful! It was rich, sticky & the right taste to finish off our meal. I generally find chocolate cakes a bit too rich, however this was just right, thanks to its small portion size & serving of ice cream.

My Mum & I were delighted with everything that we tried, & both agree that we would definitely visit again (especially after their Sunday roast was mentioned). The service was fantastic, & the staff couldn’t do enough for us.

Thank you to all at Petty 4s, especially Leah & Alfie, for inviting us & looking after us, we had a fantastic evening, & left with very content tummies!

#AD #GIFTED

JODHPUR INDIAN KITCHEN // BLOG EVENT

Last week, Essex Foodies attended their first ever blog event! So this itself was a milestone for us, to be recognised & invited along. We attended this Indian restaurant located in Basildon alongside various other bloggers, & enjoyed an array of delightful Indian dishes.

The first dishes on offer were a small tray of poppadoms per pair which were accompanied by a variety of dips, also on offer was a small dish consisting of chickpeas & lentils, however I did not try this as I’m not a fan of chickpeas.

Next up we had a variety of starters. The food was served family-style (so picky bits), & was shared between 8 people per table, meaning everyone got to sample everything. There were onion bhajis, chicken tikka (herb), as well as a couple of other bits which I didn’t catch the name of but were a chicken-styel kebab & a deep fried dish. I tried each starter & I really liked them all, in particular I liked the fish. What stood out to me the most with the starters was infact the presentation, & how beautifully bright all of the dips were. There really was something for everyone!

Next up were mains, & again these were served family-style. Honestly, I didn’t find this ideal because it was a bit of a scramble having to share the dishes out around the table, I think it would’ve made more sense to have maybe done a few more dishes but smaller portions, this would’ve meant everyone could’ve sorted their dinner sorted a bit more efficiently & also a bit less awkwardly! Nonetheless, it was still very pleasant, & I enjoyed all of the dishes I tried.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch the names of each of the curries, but they were very nice! I only braved three of them, as the dry dish we were advised was a hot one. On offer was also a potato curry dish, which I was actually really surprised at – I didn’t think I would like it, but it was really nice! I was expecting it to be very heavy, & it was the complete opposite. There was also a good selection of rices, I went for the mushroom & pilau rices to accompany my meal.

Apologies for how unphotogenic this picture is, but it’s curry, once it’s on your plate, it never looks appetising! As you can see, I also had a bit of naan bread, I wouldn’t normally go for this as I find it way too filling & it ends up ruining the meal for me as I will be too stuffed but, this particular naan was pink peppercorn! A must try!

The food at Jodhpur Indian Kitchen was all lovely, & I couldn’t say a bad word about any of it. Each dish was extremely tasty, & very filling.

One thing that we did also notice on the menu, was that the curries do actually come with sides, meaning you don’t have to buy each dish separately (unless of course you do want additional bits), which essentially is fantastic value.

Thank you to Jodhpur Indian Kitchen for hosting a wonderful evening, & for their outstanding service – each member of staff we spoke to were very passionate, which was really lovely to see, & thank you to Verri Berri for inviting us along.

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YAYA SHAKES // WAFFLE BAR REVIEW

Last Friday evening, I visited Yaya Shakes in Brentwood, after being invited down on Instagram. Anyone who knows me will know how much I love a waffle, so this was a treat! I visited Yaya along with my Mum, we both enjoyed a waffle & a milkshake each (& yes, it was definitely too much!)

Our waffles of choice were Cream Indulgence for myself & Choccy Woccy for Mum. Waffles are freshly made while you wait, so when they’re served, they are lovely, warm & fresh. To say we enjoyed our waffles is an understatement – they were literally inhaled by us both! What I liked most is that the toppings are not limited, in the sense that you haven’t only got, say the choice of only one type/brand of chocolate on your waffle, & I also like that not all of the waffles are heavily doused in chocolate/sauces, but there are alternatives that include fruit (f you’re slightly healthier than I am!)

Both waffles were incredibly full of flavour & chocolatey-ness, albeit a bit too heavy for my liking (this is nothing to do with Yaya however, just eyes bigger than my belly).

Milkshakes! With the milkshakes, we did not choose but were given a couple of different flavours – & there certainly weren’t any complaints! We were presented with an Oreo milkshake & a Lotus Biscoff & Twix milkshake. Mum really fancied Biscoff anyway so she had that, & I had the Oreo. Both milkshakes were thick & rich, & absolutely jam-packed full of sweet flavour. Neither of us ended up finishing our milkshakes, purely because waffles & milkshakes together is just far too sickly – although, we did give it our best shot.

Both of us absolutely loved our sweet treats here & would definitely visit again. Thank you to Yaya Shakes for the invite & for allowing us to sample their delights, we look forward to popping by in the near future (& making our way through the menu!)

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BACK INN TIME // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Another old one! (Apologies that these are all so old). Back Inn Time is probably one of Chelmsford’s most loved restaurants – it has been around for YEARS. The restaurant is very reasonable, & probably 10 out of 12 months, you’ll find vouchers offering 50% off your food bill – what more could you want?! Below is a write up from when we visited back in June 2018.

Located conveniently in Chelmsford City Centre is this hidden treasure!
The first thing on arrival we noticed was how friendly & happy the staff were, all were extremely accommodating & more than happy to help. We felt more than welcome! 
The food was sublime, and we thoroughly enjoyed each & every mouthful! Our choices included nachos & chicken quesadillas (specials board) to start, followed by burgers 🍔 & desserts both from the specials board, Oreo cheesecake & cookies n cream sundae. We highly recommend the burgers as there is such a variety & we would also recommend that you check out the specials board if you’re looking for something a little different! Overall this is a personal favourite of ours and we recommend paying them a visit! Thank you so much@backinntimechelmsford for your hospitality!

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ZUMBURA // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Earlier on in the year (January), I had the privilege of trying out this tiny restaurant nestled in Clapham Old Town. What a delight! The food here is made without using any cream or butter, which have to say, makes such a difference to how you feel after the meal. For the first time ever after a curry, I wasn’t bloated or uncomfortable – this is definitely the way forward!

There was a lovely menu to choose from, some things recognisable but made with a twist. The various dishes my Dad & I enjoyed included the cod fillet & calamari to start, lamb chops, lamb curry & tiger prawn curry for mains with sides of paneer masala & khatte bhaigan (baby aubergines). All of the food was superb, and thanks to it being so nice & light, you could fully enjoy it! Following from our food, we were brought a selection of ice creams – all of these were so lovely! In particular I really enjoyed the berry flavour. I would highly recommend giving this restaurant a visit, especially if you are a fan of more natural, healthier meals. Definitely a hidden gem! Thank you to Raju, @binodbaral_ & the team @zumburaclapham for the invite & for their hospitality.

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NEW PAVILION // RESTAURANT REVIEW

Back in February I was lucky enough to be invited along to this lovely restaurant in Maldon, which has recently been taken under new management. On arrival, the building looks like a pub & is very large, however inside is a cosy little restaurant with an extra seating area to the rear – so definitely not what I was expecting (not a bad thing! I was pleasantly surprised).

Onto the absolutely gorgeous food! Personally I thought the menu was quite limited, however sometimes I do prefer this as you can be a bit spoilt for choice. Regardless, there were plenty of dishes on the menu that I would pick. For our starters, my mum & I enjoyed the beef carpaccio (one of my absolute favourite dishes – so glad to see this on the menu as not a lot of places offer this) & the anti-pasti board which included your typical bread, balsamic vinegar, olives, sundried tomatoes, meats & cheese. Both starters were very tasty & generous in size. As mentioned before, I love beef carpaccio so this was a roaring success! I wish that more places offered this dish, actually. For our mains we enjoyed a dish from the specials board which was a chicken & bacon linguine – this was lovely, albeit a little bit rich. Again, this was plentiful & generous in size. For my main, I enjoyed the cod which was served with spring onion mash & spinach in a tomato sauce – beautiful! The dish was nice & light & didn’t leave me feeling stuffed. Both mains were more than enough so you could probably get away with not having a starter)… Which leads me on to dessert (of course we had 3 courses!!) We indulged in the lemon tart & eton mess – both desserts were lovely & light, & very fresh in flavour thanks to the fresh fruit. Everything we ate here was lovely, & was really well presented as you can see from the photos.

This is not somewhere I would’ve visited as I’d never heard it of until recently – however I am glad to have found this restaurant! I’ve also heard they do a fantastic Sunday roast – watch this space! Thank you to the team New Pavilion for having us & for looking after us, we look forward to seeing you again soon!

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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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