REVIEW: Back-Inn Time in Chelmsford
PUBLISHED: 10:30 27 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:20 27 November 2018
Stephanie Mackentyre continues her tour of Essex's finest eateries and this time drops into the Back-Inn Time American diner in Chelmsford
Whether its rockabilly dresses, rock and roll melodies or pastel shades of formica, memorabilia from the 1950s has never been so popular, so it seemed fitting to check out one of the old-style American diners which are popping up around Essex.
The owners of Back-Inn Time were actually ahead of their time when they opened their diner, neatly tucked away on Victoria Road in Chelmsford, over 18 years ago.
As you enter you could be forgiven for thinking you are on the set of Cheers, with its authentic American fashioned bar and red and white chequered tablecloth tables. Having arrived on a rather chilly day with no parking on site, we walked from the nearest car park – about five minutes away.
We began with a cup of filter coffee. Delivered in seconds with unlimited free refills, it was a good start to our lunch. The coffee, like the atmosphere, was warm and welcoming. I began with two quarters of deep-fried, breaded brie in a red currant and orange sticky, sweet sauce.
For my guest, breaded mushrooms stuffed with pate and also deep fried, both were served with a green salad garnish.
The service was super swift and the portion sizes generous for both. As we waited for our mains we were amused to see a miniature train track above our heads, where a locomotive chuffed its way around the restaurant, entertaining both children and adults alike.
Chicken fajitas was next on the menu for me, served in a hot skillet. Strips of marinated chicken arrived, chargrilled with bell peppers and onions, accompanied by guacamole, sour cream, cheese and fresh salsa with four warm, fluffy flour tortillas.
My guest chose the chick-inn time, a very tender chicken breast topped with mushrooms and a special blend of barbecue sauce and melted cheeses. It was served with either jacket potato, skinny fries, or curly fries and a choice of either coleslaw or sweet corn cob.
There is not a huge wine list, just five white, five red, three rose and three fizzy wines to choose from, but the cocktail menu was remarkable, with tantalising choices spread across two pages including some bartender specials. Too Drunk to Funk (whisky, cherry brandy and lime) and American Dry or an Apple Pie Mojito (Bacardi, cinnamon, sugar, lime, apple juice and mint) particularly caught our eye.
With impressively-sized plates, Back-Inn Time also offers a doggy bag service so if you prefer to leave room for dessert, you can take part of your meal home with you for later. Talking of which, the menu included plenty of sumptuous sundaes, New York style baked cheesecake and good ole American pancake stacks with maple syrup.
The idea of a huge ice cream sundae was hugely tempting, but we were both too full. Rather helpfully they offer a Not-so Sundae – a smaller version of the traditional with the option to build your own. We were given a choice of toppings and flavours of ice cream.
So after polishing off a strawberry and cream smaller sundae topped with strawberry sauce, whipped cream and nuts, I left smiling both inside and out.
Table Talk with Cherise Stuart and Rhea Foulsham
Where do you live and what do you do? We both live in Broomfield and I work at St Pius X Primary School as a dinner lady.
What did you choose from the menu? A Mexican chilli starter and a half rack of ribs, I couldn’t fit in a dessert unfortunately.
Why were you dining at Back-Inn Time? Because we wanted to catch up and Rhea had a voucher to spend.
Describe your dining experience: The children got a goodie bag which kept them amused between courses with colouring in and crayons. The food is really nice, the service is quick and the staff are always cheerful and happy to help. We think its good value as well, and it’s so filling.
What could they do better? The children’s ribs used to come without bones, but now they don’t. Personally I’d prefer them still to be served boneless.
Worth visiting again? Yes, we go there regularly, often for birthdays and anniversaries.
What was the best part of your visit? Just spending time with my friend and enjoying the food. Because we both work, it’s hard to find time to catch up normally, so it was nice to enjoy a cocktail together. I can highly recommend the Apple Pie Mojitos!
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Victoria Road Chelmsford CM1 1NY | 01245 269 983
Useful to know
The total bill came to £44.95 for two courses for two people, one dessert and coffees. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.