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Dining out at Chop Bloc, Chelmsford

PUBLISHED: 10:27 13 July 2015 | UPDATED: 10:27 13 July 2015

Chop Bloc restaurant

Chop Bloc restaurant

Archant

Set in the very heart of Chelmsford, Chop Bloc is a new restaurant with a large terraced area and parasols at the front, writes Stephanie Mackentyre.

As you might expect with a hip city centre restaurant, parking isn’t available, but I emailed the restaurant the day before to ask directions and they very helpfully gave me good instructions to find them and where to park. Parking is only five minutes away and only £1 an hour.

Inside, the restaurant is split into three floors. A large room on the ground floor with a cocktail bar on the second floor and another 100-seater restaurant at the very top of this 18th century former brewer’s building. There was a lively hub bub as lunchtime diners, already enjoying their meals, gathered. The restaurant has bare brick walls with large light bulbs suspended from the steel girders above and it’s serious about its beef, which is all from Hereford cattle, the oldest UK breed, and matured in house for 28 days.

There is a great selection of steaks and burgers, plus chicken and seafood too. As time was of the essence, I chose the express lunch option — two courses for £15 and three for £19.50. I decided to go straight to mains and while I waited a short time I worked through lunch thanks to free WiFi. Although the restaurant has a youthful vibe, the diners were quite mixed including mums with babies, businessmen mid-meeting and a large group in celebration. The table next to mine I noticed enjoyed their starters — two goujons of pork with panko bread crumbs and a small side of rocket and a dark, sticky dipping sauce.

I’d chosen the Thai beef noodle salad, but I’d like to return to try out the steaks. I’ll need to have a large appetite though as the ‘Extras’ listed include a whole or half lobster, Josper tiger prawns as well as the traditional fried eggs.

My main course saw slim slices of succulent, tasty steak expertly cooked with just enough pink to keep the juices flowing. The noodles were served with slices of red and yellow pepper and red onion, and enough chilli and black pepper to give the plentiful dish a warming bite.

I noticed my next door diners, who had ordered steaks, were given steak knives that would have been useful for my steak strips as they were attractively served in a slanted bowl, but it did make it quite difficult to cut with an ordinary knife.

For dessert, the chocolate brownie or raspberry dessert included in the express lunch menu sounded tempting, but as I’d interviewed the supplier of the ice cream last month — the Saffron Cream Company — I thought I’d sample some for myself. They currently feature chocolate, vanilla or strawberry on the menu and my strawberry and vanilla scoops tasted creamy and deliciously homemade.

Useful to know

The total bill came to £20.30 for two courses and a glass of house pinot grigio. 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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