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Dining out at Charnallies in Clacton on Sea

PUBLISHED: 11:44 11 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:47 11 July 2016

Exterior of Charnallies

Exterior of Charnallies

Archant

Stephanie Mackentyre reviews the American-Italian themed restaurant Charnallies in Clacton-on-Sea

Interiors at CharnalliesInteriors at Charnallies

Charnallies is an American Italian-themed restaurant just a short stroll from the promenade at Clacton. This seaside setting is frequented by both locals and holiday makers, but I’d spotted they were popular for parties too, so I went along to find out more.

Diners organising a party can enjoy free balloons, banners and decorations plus a special two-course and three-course set party menu. There’s also an interesting cocktail menu to thrust you straight into the party spirit.

We were immediately greeted with a smile and shown to our booth seating. There is a mixture of tables and booths and as we checked out the extensive menu we enjoyed melodies from Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook overhead – a real culture mix of Essex and the US.

Interiors at CharnalliesInteriors at Charnallies

As well as the menu, which had a range of pizza and pasta dishes, Mexican flavours, salads, steaks and homemade burgers, there were also specials on the blackboard. I began with the stuffed mushrooms, although the baked enchilada caught my eye. My partner chose garlic king prawns which arrived, chargrilled and skewered, glistening with garlickyness on a bed of salad leaves. My starter was two, fresh, field mushrooms, filled with chunky garlic crumb and served with a side of freshly-chopped salad and garlic mayonnaise. Both dishes tasted freshly prepared and looked appealing too.

While enjoying our first course we noted Charnallies offers a 20% discount on pre-theatre meals and also hosts a brunch buffet every Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am at a very reasonable £5 per head.

Main course for my dining partner was Luigi’s lamb shank. It was slow braised to make it succulent and served on a generous portion of creamed potato with carrots and broccoli, all surrounded by a thick, rich gravy. For me, I loved the sound of the homemade Italian meatballs, served with spaghetti in a rich tomato sauce. I wasn’t disappointed. I had thought with such a large menu, some dishes might have a feel of ‘fast food’. That wasn’t the case, my meatballs were deliciously authentic and the herby, tangy tomato sauce a worthy accompaniment. The portion size meant I had to leave some of mine to make room for dessert.

Charnallies signCharnallies sign

The dessert menu sports a large choice of traditional puddings and also ice cream sundaes. My guest chose American-style pancakes, drizzled with hot maple syrup and served with vanilla ice cream. Despite having almost no room left for dessert, I chose a cherry cookie sundae. Layers of ice cream, red cherries, coulis and homemade cherry cookies were all topped off with fresh cream. I intended to eat a couple of spoonfuls for the sake of the review, but I ended up consuming the lot – it was impossible to resist.

This is an all-round, authentic American-Italian experience and one which I’ll happily repeat next time I’m on the coast. w

Useful to know

The total bill came to £53.45 for three 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.

Book a table

Charnallies

1-5 Pier Avenue, Clacton-on-Sea CO15 1QB. 01255 688655

Side orders: Three more party places

The Chequers Pub and Restaurant

Matching Green, CM17 0PZ. 01279 731 276. www.thechequersmatchinggreen.co.uk

We say: Offers party packages and you can hire the venue privately for up to 70 people.

Kings Oak Hotel

Paul’s Nursery Road, High Beach, IG10 4AE. 0208 508 5000. www.kingsoakhotel.com

We say: With four very different function suites, the team can cater for 30 to 450 guests, and you might recognise them as they’ve been on TOWIE too!

Layer Marney Tower

Layer Marney, Nr. Colchester, C05 9U. 01206 330 784. www.layermarneytower.co.uk

We say: The Great Tower is ideal for summer parties with guests spilling out onto the gardens and courtyard while enjoying their canapes and Champagne.

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