REVIEW: Channels Bar & Brasserie near Little Waltham
PUBLISHED: 15:16 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 08 February 2019
For her latest review of Essex’s top dining pubs Stephanie Mackentyre drops into Channels Bar & Brasserie near Little Waltham
Recently refurbished and finalists in the Essex Life Food & Drink Awards for 2017 and 2018 for both the Destination Dining and Customer Service categories, I thought it high time I paid Channels Bar & Brasserie a personal visit.
Under the guidance of head chef Dan Pitts, Channels Bar & Brasserie promises the very finest locally-sourced produce crafted into stunning rustic fine dining.
The interior too has a definite wow factor. With a grey, black and red décor, the 14th century farmhouse has been transformed into a smart, fine dining restaurant while being sympathetic to its heritage.
We were greeted warmly by the barman and he personally led us to our table. As it was near a speaker, he even asked if the sound level was OK with us. There were plenty of families dining there too, but they seemed to cleverly put the families together and the couples around a quieter corner which was also very much appreciated.
I chose a glass of the Chateau Haut Mayne Graves, Molleux 2016/17 – with its honeyed sweetness you could taste ripe peaches.
Warm rolls topped with poppy seeds arrived shortly after our drinks. When our starters arrived I had bowl envy – beautiful hand thrown and colourful – but as I was there to review the food rather than the crockery I concentrated on the truffled cauliflower soup with two slices of grilled sourdough bread for my guest, while I enjoyed their whipped chicken liver parfait with smoked duck, pistachio, red onion chutney and more of the sourdough which I can only assume had been griddled with truffle oil as it was absolutely delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the pale pink, silky parfait.
There’s plenty of interesting features to check out while dining – the inglenook fireplace, the attractive garden and also the flagstone floor in the bar area where we sat and which means that part of the restaurant also welcomes dogs.
On a Sunday, they offer a ‘plated’ carvery. For me, an extremely generous roast chicken breast served with sage and onion stuffing and a pig in blanket with a Yorkshire pudding which was about a third of the size of the plate! Roast potatoes and plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables and rich gravy completed my meal.
My guest chose treacle cured beef served with fresh hot horseradish sauce. Considering we booked a late lunch (2pm) the meat was a fresh and succulent as you might expect straight from the oven. Both portions were extremely generous and even the vegetables were carefully prepared including proper cauliflower cheese, broccoli, fine beans, baked carrots and parsnips – impossible to resist.
Dessert was impossible for us to contemplate after two sizeable portions. However, we both said the combination of décor, efficient service and sheer deliciousness of all elements of our meal would lead to another visit there very soon.
Petit Fours & Against
To be applauded: The flavour and presentation of each of our dishes.
Prefer less of: Confusing signage on the driveway.
Worthy of note: The staff, all offered a friendly face and extremely efficient service.
Who would enjoy this place: Couples, dog walkers and family gatherings.
I wish I’d also tried: Something from the dessert menu – maybe the salted dark chocolate delice?
Worth returning for: Another walk and perhaps Valentine’s Day?
Useful to know
The total bill came to £49.05 for two courses for two people, with drinks. 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.
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Channels , Pratts Farm Lane, Little Waltham, Chelmsford, CM3 3PT