Dining out at… Platform Two at Chapple and Wakes Colne Station
PUBLISHED: 11:51 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:51 25 June 2013
I'VE BEEN following the progress of Writtle's Charlie Stocker since he reached the quarter finals of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2012. Charlie has set up a series of pop up restaurants and I was very keen to give one a try. Choosing a date, Charlie sets up his restaurant just for one night and recently served up a treat on Platform Two of the Chappel and Wakes Colne station, still a working station, but also home to the East Anglian Railway Museum. Platform Two already has its popular Café in a Carriage run by Denise Smith and Clare Cracknell, so the venue had its own purpose-built kitchen for Charlie to work in.
We parked at the station car park and crossed the footbridge, admiring the views of the Colne Valley all around us. Greeted on the platform we were shown inside the delightfully restored 1950s carriage. The line is still used with trains running from Sudbury and Colchester so some of our fellow diners arrived via rail and the slight movement when a train did go by added to the ambiance. To complement the meal, a wine flight was offered, five individually selected, generous tasting glasses for each diner at £15 per head. We were driving, so opted to try the farm-pressed apple juice from Assington while we enjoyed home-baked bread and freshly-churned butter.
Since 2012, Charlie’s been busy with his cookery and foraging courses, as well as his pop up restaurants and it was a treat to enjoy some of his latest dishes. After bread came an amuse bouche – savoury shortbread with a basil clotted cream and Lawford cherry tomatoes. Next it was time to try Charlie’s nettle soup with confit egg yolk and crispy leeks. We felt sorry for our waitress having to walk along the platform and into the carriage carefully carrying two bowls of steaming soup but upon arrival the contrasting deep green soup with a bright yellow egg yolk looked and tasted excellent. Topped with caramelised slivers of leek it was a good combination of flavours.
Next came a delicate dish of tempura of local oyster, compressed beef cheek with daikon and seaweed dressing, served on an original GER plate with an oyster and lime puree. This course was particularly flavoursome although I thought the lime could have been more apparent.
We moved onto smoked belly of local rare breed pork served with a slice of slow-cooked fillet supplied by a local farm, it was served with broad beans, peas, hogweed shoots and wild garlic which Charlie collected from his foraging. Great flavours again, but personally I would have liked more of the fresh vegetables.
To round off our meal we enjoyed birch sap cheesecake with coffee cake sponge, sprinkled with pecans. It was my first taste of birch sap, which is rather like maple syrup with more smokiness, while the sponge was as light as a feather with an oh so creamy cheesecake – all served with a cafetiere of coffee as we watched the sun set behind the trees from our carriage window – a fabulous start to a long weekend.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £89.10 for five courses four two people, with soft drinks and coffee. 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.
Table Talk with diners Brigid McMullen with her partner Alan Colville and friends Angus Forest and Katrine Bonner
What do you do? I run a creative agency in London.
Why were you at Charlie Stocker’s pop up restaurant? Our friends suggested it as they know a friend of one of the waitresses, so they had tried out the café before and visited for a murder mystery night here too in the past. They were looking for other foodies to appreciate this style of cooking and presentation.
Describe your dining experience in a sentence
A charming, mellow, and intriguing evening with lots of new tastes.
How would you rate their value for money?
I think, given the amount of preparation in creating those delicate courses, it was pretty good really.
Is it worth visiting a pop up or Platform 2 again? Yes, both I think. According to the information on the night, Charlie is doing a foraging day with light lunch and then he teaches you how to forage and what to do with your findings by making a meal in the evening, so I’m keen to do that.
What was the best part of your visit? The combination of a unique experience in a lovely setting, with a great ambiance and unusual courses served by friendly staff.
Book a table
Platform 2 Catering Ltd
East Anglian Railway Museum
Chappel and Wakes Colne Station
For more information about Charlie Stocker’s next pop up restaurants go to www.charliestocker.com or follow @charliejay77 on Twitter
Other more unusual dining destinations
The Simply Blues Café
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Tiptree Tea Room & Jam Museum
Wilkin & Sons Ltd
We say: With waitress service and home-cooked foods, this is a great place to digest delicious food and a bit of history too.