Deciding on where to go for a meal can be difficult especially when the choices are limited. Good quality and value for money restaurants are few and far between especially it would seem in and around Chelmsford. That's not to say there aren't any good restaurants in Essex before anybody blows a blood vessel! Restaurants such as Barda, The Anchor of Hullbridge and The Contented Sole are three excellent restaurants that I've visited in the past. The challenge of where to go was even aired on Twitter but I'm afraid the response was fairly mute. In the end we decided to return to Graham's on the Green, a firm favourite.
Writtle, a small village on the outskirts of Chelmsford is blessed with two quality restaurants, Graham's on the Green and the Blue Bridge which was apparently frequented by Posh and Becks a year or two ago.
The restaurant was already in full swing when our small party arrived and we were greeted by the Maitre D and her team of willing helpers. The restaurant is fairly narrow with a long bar on the right side. Seating is also available at the front of the restaurant but as it was -6 degrees we passed on 'drinks on the terrace'. The restaurant is tastefully decorated and has a number of 'booths' that provide a bit of privacy. The kitchen is on full view to the customers which I for one really like as it's always good to see the guys in action.
Drinks are quickly ordered and brought to the table without too much fuss apart from the missing 'lemon' for a hot water. We chose from the a la carte menu which consists of eight starters, seven main courses and side order options. Many of which I'd had or seen before so it was a bit disappointing not to see a few new offerings.
Starters are priced from £5.00 for Leek and Potato soup finished with Roquefort cheese to Pan Fried Scallops on Rocket, Crème Fraiche and chilli jam for £9.50. I couldn't fault the soup which was delicious with flavours perfectly balanced even though there was no bread offered. Graham's House Salad was a hit with the other diners but for me the presentation was flat and boring only rescued by a good dressing.
A welcome lemon sorbet was brought to the table as a little surprise and to help clear our palettes.
Main courses is where the action is in my opinion and they didn't fail to please. Prime Fillet Steak on Chicken Liver stuffed flat mushroom with vine cherry tomatoes and rich beef jus was stunning.
Yes, the cherry tomatoes look ridiculous in the picture but the flavours are magnificent, the steak is soft and the jus is unctuous and sticky. Where was that piece of bread for dunking?!
Halibut is a tremendous fish and it has to be the 'fit' fish of the sea as far as I'm concerned. It is such a beast! Pan fried fillet of Halibut with spinach, roasted new potatoes and a red wine and shallot sauce. Chunky, firm, white flesh served with a delicious sweet onion sauce. Divine!
While we're waiting for dessert I'll tell you a little about the great team. I think everybody took a turn to assist at our table and whilst that might be a bit odd for the traditionalist it was great. Service is speedy, helpful and always with a smile. Plus, they take criticism on the chin with style. We all like desserts especially if chocolate is involved. So, we were all looking forward to a delicious treat! Unfortunately, I've forgotten the name of this dessert but the picture will help. A rather firm milk chocolate ganache on a ginger biscuit base, a physalis and a thin line of coulis. We all agreed that it lacked sufficient flavour and more ginger was required, ideally mixed into the chocolate to really give it some flavour. I suggest you ask the boss to take you to Pollen Street Social to investigate what Jason Atherton does with his desserts!
Overall, we enjoyed the bubbly atmosphere, a great meal that was well presented and served by a team who obviously enjoyed pleasing their customers. The dessert may have been below par but the teams' 'can do' attitude was obvious to all concerned. The meal was reasonably priced at £38 per person including a delicious Petit Chablis, coffee and some very tasty dark chocolate ganache truffles. We'll be back!
Graham's on the Green.