Lunch with The Bear Bar & Restaurant, Stock
PUBLISHED: 12:01 16 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:20 20 February 2013
Reviewed by: Stephanie Mackentyre
ITS more than two-and-a-half years since Richard and Brenda Ellis first began their new life in Stock. Previously Richard was a chef consultant in London, overseeing 15 top restaurants in the West End, while wife Brenda worked as an interior designer. Together they have found a much more appealing lifestyle in the leafy suburbs.
Its a very pretty village and the locals warmed to us the moment we arrived. We literally feel like we fell on our feet when we found this place, Richard explains. But its a lot of hard work. In my previous job I was in charge of some major projects, but only one aspect. Here Im looking after every single part of the business.
The couple took over The Bear from the receivers, back in November 2007, and gave this historic building a much-needed facelift. Initially they drew the local people in, but now its a healthy mix of locals and regular customers who travel from Romford, Colchester, Braintree, Southend and even over the border from Suffolk. All come to enjoy the classic British menu on offer. Richard firmly believes in this type of menu. If you want to offer Thai food you need a proper Thai chef, no one does it better. So we stick to what we do best.
Richard is ably assisted in the kitchen by chefs Rob Lazar and Brandon Russell. The two of them work very much as a partnership which allows me time to concentrate on the rest of the business, says Richard. As the kitchen is so busy theyve recently been joined by Chris Stockwell too. Were still looking to recruit a good general manager for The Bear, it needs to be the right person though. I believe good staff are vital to the success of a place, so I wont recruit until Ive found someone suitable wholl look after The Bear like we do.
Lunch arrived and what a surprise. As its one of eight pubs within a mile, I wondered what made The Bear stand out. Presentation of food would certainly be a good contender. The starter arrived looking picture perfect on the dish. Seared scallops, resting on pea puree, topped with a wafer-thin slice of crispy bacon. Each were a good size, meaty, cooked perfectly and bursting with flavour.
As we ate, Richard explained his plans to add rooms to The Bear. A seafood mixed grill was next. Again phenomenal presentation showed off the red mullet, tuna steak, sea bass, a king prawn and another of those delicious scallops. I was amazed how the chefs managed to cook each piece of delicate fish perfectly and present it all together so flawlessly a masterpiece.
We finished off our extremely pleasant lunch with an individual banoffee pie. Its actually two desserts in one, as the pie is served with a scoop of vanilla pod ice cream in a brandy snap basket. The rich banoffee syrup was spectacular and again it appeared too good to eat. I left feeling content that Stock is definitely a gastronomic jewel, with so much great cuisine to choose from in one quaint Essex village.
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The Bear Bar & Restaurant