3 delicious delicatessens in Essex

PUBLISHED: 12:21 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:41 21 February 2017




A well-stocked larder is a thing of loveliness if you’re a foodie – bursting full of unusual ingredients poised ready to cut a dash in your dining room.


Millins of Tiptree

Darren Millins grew up with butchery. ‘We’re butchers by trade,’ he says. ‘Dad started the business in 1969 then my brother John, who also does the serving and prepping like me, and I took over from dad 12 years ago.’

Dad Gordon comes in these days on Monday mornings to keep an eye on his sons. Five years ago they took over a bigger shop next door and turned the former shop into a café. With the new larger premises, they added to the butchery with a deli. ‘We now sell our home-baked sausage rolls, Scotch eggs and make all of our own pies. We also have an olive bar and we make our own pork pâté. We are proud to supply all of the Wilkin & Sons tea rooms, too.’ There is also a choice of homemade take and bake meals. ‘Our range includes a great selection of marinated chicken for the grill and also traditional classics like cottage pie and lasagne. Our most popular item would be our traditional sausages, closely followed by our Millins classic sausages, which are used in all the Tiptree tea rooms.’


There’s an interesting range of cheeses too including Blacksticks Blue, Black Bomber Cheddar and Woolsery Goats Cheese, and they are all chosen by Colin Hurry the shop manager. Cold cuts include home-cooked gammon, roast beef and turkey along with homemade corned beef and home-cooked salt ox tongue.

‘We also use our own home-cooked meats in our sandwiches, which we sell next door in the café,’ adds Darren. There’s even a selection of fish from local fishmongers Ken Green from Clacton and this year Darren is also starting up a local delivery service for the deli and butchery. ‘People can phone through their orders – we’d prefer them to call rather than email us. Minimum order is £50. If you spend less we charge £5 for delivery, but then include a £5 voucher to spend in our shop. We believe when shoppers come in, its only then that they get to appreciate our whole range.’

Deliveries are made the next day.


Milly’s Deli and Café

Founder Ben Forrest and his partner Laura Bain had been in catering for a number of years before realising a dream. ‘Opening a deli was a long-held dream of ours. We put our money into the business and named it after our only daughter at the time. We’ve had tough times and points when things haven’t been as easy as we might have imagined. However, we’ve been established for nine years now with a pretty loyal customer base. If we were to do it again, we’d simplify things a bit and not try to please everybody, which is not always easy.’

The couple learnt the hard way about the importance of clever purchasing. ‘Just because we like a product doesn’t necessarily mean our customers are going to like it,’ explains Ben, who now has an extremely popular range of goods including home-baked hams and salads, which the couple prepare on the premises each day. ‘We also have cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairies, which is great to go with our chilli jam from the South Devon Chilli Farm. Brindisa is a Spanish wholesaler and you can find their delights at Milly’s, plus Monmouth coffee which is roasted in Bermonsey in London.

‘We’ve had that since we opened, plus chutney from the Isle of Bute in Scotland,’ adds Ben. Closer to home are Essex Larders pies from Pyes Farm. ‘They do some nice baked products which our customers really like. We are prepared to give anything a go. If it sells, it sells and if it doesn’t, we won’t get it in again. We try to be different and have a real sense of uniqueness.’

Polignano Deli and Coffee ShopPolignano Deli and Coffee Shop

You won’t find Milly’s online, however. ‘We don’t have a website, but we are on Facebook, so people can follow us there.’ If the sun’s shining when you visit, try the lovely south-facing garden and if not there’s a cosy restaurant for up to 30 covers.

Polignano Deli and Coffee Shop

Giammarino ‘Marino’ Polignano grew up in a little village called Casamassima, in southern Italy, in the region of Puglia. His parents’ own shop sold traditional Italian foods. ‘We sold wonderful hams, cheeses, pasta, wine, coffee, breads and olive oil, all of which are the local tradition.’ Marino worked alongside his father and helped with the yearly harvest of olives, cherries, almonds, capers, and other home-grown fruits, his father teaching him about the land at the same time. ‘He taught me how to find asparagus and wild growing onions, picking fennel and foraging for Cardoncelli mushrooms. They only grow on land that has been uncultivated for hundreds of years,’ explains Marino.

Polignano Deli and Coffee ShopPolignano Deli and Coffee Shop

Marino’s grandparents lived at an old farmhouse called a ‘masseria’, which was the hub of family gatherings for meals round a big table outside, surrounded by their olive trees and animals. All the food was home-grown and handmade. Now he makes his own focaccia bread here in Chelmsford at his own deli. ‘It’s the most popular item we sell,’ he says. Polignano Deli (pronounced pol in yarno) brings you producers that you can’t find elsewhere in the UK.

‘We have unusual products that we want to share with you, like cactus fruit jam and cime di rape (similar to turnip tops or broccoli). My father in Italy puts together a pallet of goodies for us to sell every couple of weeks. Italians base a lot of their meals on the seasonal fruit and vegetables and we aim to bring them all to you right here in Chelmsford.’

They also have a small café with recipes from Mamma Polignano – family recipes which have been enjoyed for generations. Now Marino is in talks with the county council about a possible second venue in Bond Street. ‘We need to iron out the situation regarding outdoor seating, but yes, we are talking about it.’ He also has plans to start a local delivery service from the deli beginning, hopefully, at the end of this month.

Get in touch

Millins of Tiptree

83 Church Road


C05 0HB

01621 815796


Milly’s Deli and Café

90 Leigh Road

Leigh on Sea


01702 474373

Polignano Deli and Coffee Shop

1 Can Bridge Way



01245 690920


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