It hasn’t escaped me that my posts relating to food are the most read. In 2018 I plan on giving the people what they want and focusing more on food and events around Essex and London. Kicking off 2018, I am going to tell you 5 of the places you simply must eat in Essex, and one of the places you should avoid at all costs. People may think Essex is all TOWIE and bling, but there really are some hidden gems when it comes to fantastic food.
Best places to eat in Essex
Andi Walker Pop Up at the Riverside Inn Chelmsford
A few months back I was invited to Masterchef finalist Andi Walker’s pop up at the Riverside Inn in Chelmsford. The Riverside Inn itself made a wonderful impression on me as despite always hearing good reviews I had never been before. Andi Walker had taken over the top floor with his pop up. I spent a lovely evening eating inventive, original and of course, tasty food. Andi uses locally sourced products that are in season at the time, so everything on your plate is as fresh as possible. One of the things I remember making a lasting impression were the leek haji’s – amazing idea! I’ve recently been invited to another evening hosted by Andi, so I am hoping this means he will be at the Riverside Inn for a lot of 2018.
Best for: catching up with friends over amazing food and wine.
The King William IV in Chigwell
No roundup of places to eat in Essex written by me would be complete without paying homage to The King William IV in Chigwell. Saying I like it is an understatement. I like it so much, I plan on getting a flat in Chigwell as one of my 2018 goals specifically so this is my local. I’ve visited loads of times but one of the main attractions here is the Sunday roast. You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Essex that does a roast as well as these guys. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start next year’s roundup with a lot more visits to this place. They refurbished last year and the atmosphere is incredible. in the winter you can take advantage of how warm and cosy it is, but in the summer they also have a stunning outdoor area for food and drinks.
Best for: Sunday roasts
The Dukes Head in Billericay
The Dukes Head, which is in the Little Burstead area of Billericay is one of my families favourites. It’s ten minutes up the road from Basildon which is great because let’s be honest there are absolutely no decent places to eat in Basildon. We recently went for a Boxing Day meal and it was perfect. They obviously put a lot of thought and effort into their seasonal menu and also what they can offer outside of the standard Christmas dinner. The produce isn’t just fresh, it’s also really good quality, and you can tell whoever is in charge of the kitchen has a hand in the process from start to finish.
Best for: special occasions
Sheesh in Chigwell
Another restaurant in Chigwell that has made it on the list. It really isn’t fair those guys get all of the good places is it? Can you not chuck a restaurant to Basildon so we have some decent places to eat please? Sheesh gets a lot of press for being a huge favourite of the TOWIE set, and I think that actually is a double edged sword to be honest. Because it is seen as trendy, I think people forget how good quality the food actually is. The Turkish themed menu has a huge amount of choice and unlike other similar restaurants you actually get quite a good portion size. There’s also a bar upstairs so you can certainly make an evening out of it. I recently tried to book while they were closed for some refurbishment, so I’m hoping I get to go back this year. Aside from the food, there is a reason it is a celebrity favourite. The luxurious interior and five star service will make you feel like a famous face from the moment you walk in.
Best for: glitz and glamour
Lifehouse Spa in Frinton
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “is she REALLY putting a spa as one of her best places to eat in Essex?”. I know it seems highly illogical but among my many visits to Lifehouse one of the times that really stands out is the time I ate there. The restaurant uses locally sourced food, and unlike other spa restaurant that take themselves far too seriously, it offers healthy food but also a choice of ‘treats’. If you can’t get down in time for dinner, I’d highly recommend having the breakfast the next day. If you are only visiting for a day then book the lunch. I had lunch there when I reviewed them for Spabreaks and the lunchtime buffet restaurant looks out on to the grounds which are an English Heritage site. Also, in case you need any further persuasion YOU ARE IN A SPA. I’m booking up to go back here in a few weeks and I’ll definitely be getting my hands on as much food there as possible.
Best for: relaxing
And the worst place to eat in Essex
Reids in Billericay
A few months ago, I visited Reids in Billericay for a friends surprise baby shower meal (yep, they are a thing now). We were to order off of the set menu but the lack of vegetarian options was astounding. Because there were no starters which catered for vegetarians I ended up with two pieces of dry bread which despite assuring me they wouldn’t, they tried to charge me extra for because they were not on the set menu and were a side.
I can’t have cream, so the main that was the ONLY vegetarian option was out of the question (side note guys, you have NO CHANCE of eating here if you are vegan). I ended up having to have fish which is not ideal but is my go to when restaurants are so poorly equipped to cater to vegetarians as Reids were. The lack of actual food was also astonishing. Our party were so hungry afterwards some of us actually went to Mcdonalds. They have the sheer audacity to charge more than most of the places I have listed above which is laughable. To top the evening off the waiter made a huge mistake with our bill and instead of just getting a manager like a normal person he argued and argued for around an hour before a manager did come over and ascertained it was actually their mistake. They had just started a new system so one would assume that common sense would have prevailed and he would have figured out this was the issue.
Common sense, evidently, does not prevail anywhere within Reids bar.
I wrote them a TripAdvisor review and they advised they were to have a new menu coming out which would be a lot more vegetarian friendly. My Mum went to her Christmas meal there and said it was still lacking in choice significantly (she is vegetarian too) and the food is awful.
Spend your money on Nando’s instead.