This month marks six, yes SIX whole months since Mike and I have been into London and to be honest, we’ve really enjoyed it; no commuting, no getting up early to hop on crowded trains, no silly late nights from events the other side of town, no fast-paced, filled diary kinda living. We’ve taken to a slower pace; eating and drinking locally; staycations via car and making the most of what we’ve got.
This means we’ve found our new locals, came across hidden gems and have really immersed ourselves in what we have on our doorstep. I’m going to take you on a little culinary trip around Essex, starting local and moving further out, to places we really recommend you visit.
Note; We’ve not found all of these during the lockdown, others were visited before, but they deserve to be on the local list!
When we found out that Raymond Blanc was moving into a dingy pub in Upminster and giving it a new lease of life, we were so happy! The change was amazing and it’s become a bit of an institution since opening back in 2017! We’ve been so many times and never been disappointed. The food is really high quality, service always second to none and the decor is a darn site better than it used to be sure!
St. Marys Ln, Upminster RM14 3LT
If you’ve been a Squibb Vicious reader for a while, then you will know I follow Nino everywhere he goes and I was gutted when his last restaurant closed. He is now back up and running with a menu that does not disappoint. Pizza’s that cost no more than £10, pasta dishes that fill you to the brim with flavour, antipasti platters to dine in with and take home and a family-friendly atmosphere.
177 High St, Hornchurch RM11 3XS
If you’re one of those, like me, that has been missing out on Bottomless Brunches in London then you need to book up to have one at Sortie. With an extremely vegetarian-friendly menu, this is a great place for people with all tastes! The Bottomless Prosecco Brunch is available Wednesday 12pm to 8pm and Saturday 12pm to 2pm at a cost of £37.95 per person. Within the price, you get a three-course meal and unlimited Prosecco for 2 hours which they are far from stingy with! Great fun for a girlie afternoon!
40-44 Station Ln, Hornchurch RM12 6NB
If you’re looking for something that isn’t a Chinese or Indian, which Hornchurch has in abundance, then Olympus should be on your radar! It’s a Greek-style restaurant, with a really broad menu from Souvlaki to Kleftiko, then some more ‘normal’ options such as steak, pasta and salad. There is something on the menu for everyone, you just have to ask what the veggie dish of the day is; I got stuffed peppers which were really good!
3-7 Billet Ln, Hornchurch RM11 1TS
This one had been on our own list to visit for quite some time and it was most certainly worth the wait! Husband and wife team, Helen and Scott are behind the helm at Parkside Brasserie and they are smashing it. With a weekly changing menu based upon what’s seasonal, there’s always something new to try! The veggie mushroom bourguignon was bloody divine; rich, flavoursome and something really different from my usual meals! The fish menu is fresh and my other diners loved every mouthful too!
194 Elm Park Ave, Hornchurch RM12 4SD
Gidea Park has a HUGE array of Indian restaurants as so far we’ve enjoyed Razza the most. Their menu features both traditional and unique contemporary dishes with a fair few that we have not seen in other local Indian restuanrants. We did notice that in particular that fish lovers, seafood lovers and vegetarians are particularly well catered for which is great for me. As they prep each dish to order it’s also really easy to ask if they will make it a little spicier or less so should you need to.
248 Main Rd, Romford RM2 5HA
The Nag’s Head is a wonderfully traditional English pub with menus to suit every diet, an app called Glass Onion that means you can check the dietary requirements of every menu before you even step foot into the venue, staff that go above and beyond, oh, and pretty decent food too!
44 Brook St, Brentwood CM14 5ND
Mum and I went to The Black Horse for lunch on a Monday and we were shocked at just how busy it was at almost 2pm. They offer a set menu; 2 courses for £11.95 and 3 courses for just £14.95 which is available Monday to Friday until 5pm which is obviously a total hit! We had a really lovely lunch, with great service and have said we will certainly return for lunch to try the set menu and more from the vegan menu too!
420 Ongar Rd, Pilgrims Hatch, Brentwood CM15 9JN
I am all about a good Sunday Roast and I mean a really good Sunday Roast. I don’t want any bog-standard vegetables and my Yorkshire Pudding has got to be the size of my fist to make me be impressed, and I think locally we are really lacking that. I know Essex is a HUGE county with hundreds of pubs serving up a Roast option every Sunday but I was yet to find one that really got me excited! That was until we took a 15-minute drive to The Greyhound in Brentwood, we loved very mouthful, had great service and would certainly return.
Magpie Ln, Little Warley, Warley, Brentwood CM13 3DZ
We used to frequent the Masons for all sorts of occasions, but we hadn’t been in a while so we thought we’d best rectify that after hearing their Sunday Lunch was one of the best in the area! We were far from disappointed too. Both the meat and vegetarian options came with seasonal veg, roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Service was really high quality too.
155-157 Ingrave Rd, Brentwood CM13 2AA
Dante’s has been named after Charlotte and Mario’s, the owners, young son, and they’re on a mission to bring the highest quality fresh fish and seafood to Maldon. At Dante’s they want you to find a modern style of British cooking brought to you from the heart into a real homely restaurant. We had such a fantastic afternoon, when we visited, with top class service, impeccable food and a lovely glass of organic wine each, all served up in a really well-decorated room. The chefs do an outstanding job with the space they have, seriously, they have about as much space as my kitchen in the flat and they work flavour miracles in there!
38 High St, Maldon CM9 5PN
Middletons success has solely been built on serving high-quality food with stylish comfortable surroundings that suits all pockets. They like to ensure their service style is fun and energetic making each and every guest feel really welcome. Dad and I had a really good meal, when we visited, with such attentive service. We even noticed our lovely waitress take a mans meal away to keep it warm whilst he popped to the loo which we thought was really nice to do!
2 High St, Chelmsford CM1 1BE
When I visited The Riverside Inn, it was for Andi Walker’s pop up, but aside from that we have also visited for their launch party and the food was amazing. The pub has stunning decor, great service and you can sit right beside the water which is something we love to do as we have nowhere nearby where we can do so.
Victoria Rd, Chelmsford CM2 6LJ
Tom, Dick & Harry’s is a stylish new restaurant, that looks a lot like we’d chosen the decor ourselves, in the heart of Loughton High Street. The restaurant comes with oodles of quirky quips that really make it stand out from the rest such as their modern small plates known affectionately as Nibbleinis, quite simply the biggest selection of the palest Provence rosés I have ever witnessed outside a vineyard, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, live music of a weekend, and a Sunday Roast Club.
153 High Rd, Loughton IG10 4LF
The Giggling Squid is just a short walk from Billericay Station, and when I visited previously, we tried the lunchtime menu. As we perused over the menu deciding whether to get a Tapas Set, One Big Dish or the Two Dish Meal Combi we chowed down on some really great prawn crackers. I much prefer the slightly spiced ones than the white ones you get with you Chinese Take Away! I also love when they give you the hugest bowl of Sweet Chilli dip as it’s a weakness of mine! We had a really great meal and the lunchtime menu is great value for money.
20 High St, Billericay CM12 9BY
The Royal Hotel in Southend is one of the oldest buildings in the area, built in 1791 and was a former haunt of Royalty and Aristocracy, you’d be surprised to know that this was once a rather dingy nightclub that I visited once and never planned on returning to. That was until heard that the Royal Hotel was now in perfectly capable new hands and they really were doing the building justice. I was far from disappointed when I visited for afternoon tea and even took my dad back for the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea. The bar also has banging cocktails and a very cute menu for when you get a little peckish.
1 High St, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1JE
The King William IV has been around for quite some time, and some of you may recognise it from the likes of The Only Way Is Essex, but it’s had a lovely refurbishment complete with roaring log fires, a unique dining room and comfy armchairs to give it that country pub feel. The food was all super tasty and we loved the wine list as we were able to try a Sauvignon Blanc from Romania!
High Rd, Chigwell IG7 6PJ
With one of the warmest welcomes I’ve ever received at a restaurant, we took our table under a wall of clocks with no hands. Rob, the owner, told us there were no hands so you lose track of time and we certainly did! Our visit lasted almost three hours and we had no idea we were there that long! As we were there for Sunday Lunch, you get no choice and are getting what you’re given! I loved this idea and certainly was not prepared for what was about to appear on our table. We were presented with three meat varieties; beef, pork and chicken. All locally sourced and beyond words. The braised beef had been cooking for fourteen hours and melted in your mouth instantly and left you with such a stunning, rich aftertaste and we loved every bite!
34 New St, Braintree CM7 1ES