This was a fabulous dining experience and a real credit to the Essex restaurant scene. We first heard about Grain when it was featured in the Essex Feast book a couple of years ago. Then when I’d seen that a couple of my chef friends had been and said it was good we certainly wanted to pay a visit ourselves. What also grabbed our attention was that it’s a small plates menu which changes regularly therefore making it very different to any where else in Essex. Unfortunately 2019 flew by before we realised we didn’t get a chance to go. So on a sunny saturday in January we decided to to take the train and make the forty five minute journey from Romford to Colchester. The restaurant itself is a leisurely fifteen minute and straight walk from the station but is not on the main road. You start to head up North Hill where you’ll come to an estate agent’s. This is where you find an alley that leads you to a small yard which is overlooked by a car park. In the far left corner is where you’ll find Grain. We entered and received a very friendly welcome before they took our coats and seated us at our table. It was then that we could have a good look around and where you could see that the main theme of the restaurant is wood as this is used for the rustic looking tables , bar panelling & floor. This all goes together to give the restaurant a nice modern feel. As you enter there is a small bar on your right then a bit further ahead is the pass of the open kitchen. The restaurant is set out in a U shape that surrounds a small courtyard of four tables and all areas have doors that can be opened which would be nice in the summer. We started with a cocktail while we looked at the menu which is set out into five categories ( vegetarian,fish,meat,cheese,desserts). On having a chat with the waiter who was very helpful we decided to order one dish from each section and create our own Tasting Menu which is something he said that a lot of people do for dinner.
The Entrance , Bar & Kitchen
Marmalade Old Fashioned
So now on to the food and we started in the Garden which is the vegetarian section. Here we ordered the Roasted Beetroot with treacle , horseradish , dill & walnut and the Tempura Cauliflower with green romesco & spring onions. These dishes were a delightful way to begin where the flavour combinations were amazing.
This is the fish section where we enjoyed two more fabulous dishes. The first was a Smoked Haddock with broccoli & jerusalem artichokes and the second was the Cured Mackerel with avocado , green chilli & cucumber. Both dishes were perfectly executed once once again the flavours were delicious.
So now on to the meat section and we thought the first two courses were amazing then the bar was about to be raised here. We chose the Lamb Rump with aubergine , black garlic , olive & new potato and the Beef Sirloin with truffle bread pudding & Roasted shallot which had my name written all over it and didn’t disappoint in the slightest. We then spoke to our waitress and asked if we could sneak in another dish to share. They gladly said yes so we also enjoyed the Pork Fillet with black pudding , red cabbage & salsify. On speaking to waitress Summer who it was a pleasure to chat to throughout our lunch we matched these courses with a carafe of Spatburgunder a German Pinot noir.
Next to come was the cheese course where there was only one choice so we decided to have one each. It was a Cave Aged Cheddar with a smoked cheddar mustard , pickled shallot , onion marmalade , oat bread & crackers.
Time now to finish with desserts and why just have one each when you can also share another one as well. So with this we chose the Dark Chocolate with caramel , marshmallow & pretzel ice cream and the Sticky Toffee Pudding with coffee & cardamom ice cream. Then to share we had the Glazed Pineapple with rum ginger cake & coconut sorbet. All desserts were simply heaven and a fantastic way to finish.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
We finished with a coffee and a chat first to waitress Summer who told us a lot about how the restaurant has grown in the four years it’s been open and then to chef/owner Jordan where we could personally tell him how much we’d enjoyed our lunch. I would highly recommend a visit here as the food is excellent and this is matched with excellent friendly service. I would like to say Thank You to Jordan , Paul and all the team and will definitely be returning sooner rather than later to enjoy more delicious food and especially knowing that the menu changes regularly.