Ask, Strada, Prezzo. Ask, Strada, Prezzo. Costa for a lunchtime Panini. Nandos. Nando’s. Pizza Express. Ask. Nandos.
Yep, I have just described about every restaurant choice you will get in any high street known to man in the UK. If you want any originality, you will have to go to the country pub on the outskirts of town (or for me – Chigwell).
I was intrigued to review Cleaver when I was invited, as I had never heard of it, and I used to work in Billericay. Next to Waitrose, it is so so convenient to get to, as anyone that knows Billericay knows it is a nightmare. If Waitrose ask we spent 2 hours in store and £60 on shopping. 2 Bananas and a bottle of lemonade.
Anyway, my first impressions of Cleaver were ‘Wow, its so modern’. The whole restaurant has a ‘New York Loft’ feel (alright you have caught me, I have never been in a New York Loft, but I’ve watched Made in Chelsea so I feel I am a perfectly good authority on the matter). It’s not only fashionable, but there’s something about the décor which just makes it look clean, a big tick in my books.
The menu, is made up of burgers, chicken and ribs, all cooked to perfection with a choice of sauce or marinade. The nice little surprise in the menu is the decent wines on offer (I had the Terri Forti Sangiovese – very nice), and the choice in sides. The spicy rice and sweet potato fries were a nice treat, as most meat places only offer mash, wedges and baked potatoes.
My Mum, the notoriously fussy eater had the chicken burger and spicy rice. The chicken burger was tender and moist, and she really enjoyed it. The spicy rice I tried myself, and it was so much nicer than batch made stuff you get in chain restaurants. it had a really ‘fresh’ taste to it, and was no where near as greasy as other stuff.
I myself had the chicken with hot ‘n’ spicy sauce, and Cleaver have actually managed to succeed in making the sauce get all the way into the chicken and not just the skin. As well as the sweet potato fries being the perfect balance of crispy and light, rather than heavy and too moist, the presentation of all of the food was impressive.
Dessert has never really been my forte, so luckily I invite my Mum, Trace along to test for me. She had the New York Cheesecake, and after being mildly horrified she couldn’t eat it until I had come back from the toilet to take a picture. Due to the fact she nearly ate the plate I guess she enjoyed it?
Aside from the food and the lovely wine, one of the things I adored about this place was the ambience. The booths offer a certain amount of privacy, but without making you feel cut off from the ‘buzz’ of the actual restaurant. the upstairs area, used for larger parties is to die for, and looks like a city roof top bar.
At prices that will only set you back £20 to £30 for a meal and drink for two, I would highly recommend trying them out. Of all the places to eat in Billericay (yes I have eaten at them all) this is by far my new favourite.
You can make a booking online, here: http://cleaverrestaurants.co.uk/book.php