When I visit a restaurant, I want more than just good food. And no, that isn’t an excuse for me to go all Simon Cowell and say “I want great food”, because I do want great food, but I also want something more. When I visit a restaurant like Boadicea, Colchester, I’m looking for something more. Pzazz. Atmosphere. The X Factor. Call it what you want to call it. If I wanted genuinely good food and that’s it, I’d stay in my pyjamas and cook myself Coq Au Vin. Going to a restaurant should be an excuse to get dressed up, have fun and overindulge. So Boadicea invited me to do a review and I was pretty excited to give them a try, as they looked pretty fancy on their website.
Dining there that Saturday evening was actually my second visit to the restaurant. The first was earlier that day when I gave my long-suffering best friend Laura the postcode to the restaurant rather than the actual hotel we were staying in (if the journey to the review is more than half an hour away you are fully entitled to “make a weekend of it”). At first impression, I was a bit like “ok we are just at some docks and I had no idea there was even sea in Colchester”. We also couldn’t find the door, which wasn’t made much easier by the cab driver repeatedly shouting “stairs” at us. It was pretty obvious we needed to go upstairs to access the restaurant, we could see approximately none. Finally finding our way in, we were greeted by a modern, spacious bar area with an already buzzing atmosphere at 8pm. I like places that are buzzing at 8pm. It means I can have a good night and still be home in my pyjamas by 12pm. The dining area is up some stairs, so you don’t have to worry about a hen party accidentally dipping a blow-up penis in your Eton Mess, which would be a travesty I’m sure you’ll all agree.
Usually, the thought or three courses doesn’t intimidate me. As long as I remember not to fill myself up on bread I can usually get three courses down no problem. As soon as we saw the menu I was thrilled that camembert was up for grabs as a starter. I know what you are thinking; “wait you always tweet about being lactose intolerant, how come you are eating an entire cheese?”. The answer is because cheese is life. I am willing to take the risk, and the camembert starter at Boadicea is WELL worth the risk. Funnily enough, cheese doesn’t tend to bother me, I recently purchased an entire cookbook on cheese and I haven’t made myself too unwell so far (Cheese: The essential guide to cooking with cheese, over 100 recipes – worth every penny).
Now that I had warmed up my palette with some cheese and exceptional onion chutney I was ready to try the mains. It’s really strange and I never know why but pork belly is always my “go to” dish in a restaurant like this. I always have it in La Sala when I go to Marbella , and I suppose it has just stuck from there. As the pork belly confit wasn’t available I was offered breaded pork which sounded just as delicious to me. Sometimes I find it hard to believe I was a vegetarian for nearly a year. The breaded pork was still served with the carrot puree, baby carrots, potato rissole and pork jus as described in the menu, and it was amazing. As much as I practice cooking, I can never seem to get pork or lamb to get that wonderful “melt in your mouth” texture that so many restaurants get right. The dish was also the perfect size, although I was starting to get full at this point. I filled myself up on so much bread, I was so full I actually felt a bit high. Not that I would know what being high felt like, obviously.
The waitress very kindly offered the information that the Eton Mess was fairly small and we could share, which was most welcome information. It was at this point that Laura decided to tell me a riveting story about how Eton Mess was invented which distracted me and made me eat a lot more than I wanted to (we also had a fiery debate about whether Rosie and Jim lived in a barge or a narrowboat in the cab, we’re nothing if not interesting). There is nothing like a bit of ice cream and meringue to end a perfect meal.
The great thing about Boadicea is that the meal is only half of the experience. The bar is open until 2am and they have a DJ that spins a mix of old and new tunes to get the dancefloor going. It’s a great place for an occasion, even if the occasion is that it’s Saturday and you’ve had a hard week
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