Review: Dining out at The Pier, Harwich

PUBLISHED: 11:29 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:29 05 September 2016

EXG SEP 16 Dining Out

EXG SEP 16 Dining Out


The Pier in Harwich closed in January and reopened again in May after an extensive £1.5m reinvestment and refurbishment.

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The 1860 listed building now offers a bright, shiny new interior with balcony dining, offering extensive views over the estuary of the rivers Stour and Orwell and the Ha’Penny Pier.

You also have a great view of the nautical comings and goings from the quay across the road. The new interior, designed by Geraldine Milsom, has plenty of nods to its industrial neighbour, Harwich Port, with its stripped back lighting and copper-topped tables.

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The restaurant is open from 12noon and operates a 40% booking system, leaving 60% of the tables for walk-in trade. The menu features plenty of fresh fish, although there are some meat and vegetarian options. Burrata and cuor di bue tomato with purple basil, capers and cracked coriander seeds is the current vegetarian starter.

I chose to start with san Daniele ham served with handmade mozzarella, Cavolo nero pesto and bruschetta. I was also swiftly served with a homemade granary roll and butter.

EXG SEP 16 Dining OutEXG SEP 16 Dining Out

My table, as most do, overlooked the watery vista and patchwork of countryside beyond, which I found fascinating as I enjoyed the mix of flavoursome ham and creamy pure white cheese. The staff, of which there seemed plenty, were courteous and knowledgeable about the dishes on the menu.

The wine list is predominantly European with some Prosecco-based cocktails and there are also craft beers and cask ales on tap too.

EXG SEP 16 Dining OutEXG SEP 16 Dining Out

Main course at The Pier for me was fish pie-luxe. Prettily topped off with piped mash, beneath lay lobster, hake, scallops, prawns and salmon. The fish was complemented by a creamy light dill sauce with chopped leeks, much less weighty than the traditional cheese sauce and allowing the individual sea food flavours to come to the fore. It was presented with its own white card, ‘choirboy’ ruff surrounding an earthenware dish.

Although I’d read the sides on the menu, which included a broccoli hollandaise, I forgot to order any extra vegetables, which I think would have only increased my enjoyment of this super fish dish.

EXG SEP 16 Dining OutEXG SEP 16 Dining Out

The call of the sea I could ignore no longer, so I decided to take dessert on the balcony – enjoying the walnut ice cream with caramelised French walnuts. Described as ‘seriously good’ I couldn’t disagree. There were plenty of crunchy, caramel undertones and textures.

With a cup of particularly smooth filter coffee finished, I had to reluctantly drag myself away from the sunny balcony and its spectacular sea views.

Useful to know:

The total bill came to £37.75 for three courses with a glass of house wine and a 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:

Table Talk with diner Scarlett Coughlin, her mother and father and also her grandmother.

Where do you live and what do you do?

I live on the other side of Colchester and I’m studying Equine Management at Writtle College.

What did you choose from the menu?

Salt and pepper squid starter and hake for my main course.

Why were you at The pier?

We’ve dined there before it was done up, so we thought we’d go back to see the changes. I thought it looks really smart and nice now.

Describe your dining experience in a phrase.

Smart but still very relaxed; it’s a light, fresh-looking restaurant with some excellent views over the water.

How would you rate the value for money?

I think it’s good as its really nice food.

Worth visiting again?

Yes, we will return again.

What was the best part of your visit?

The service was really good and the views are superb.

Book a table

The Pier

The Quay


CO12 3HH

01255 241212

Side Orders:

Three more restaurants with a fresh face

The Willows Inn

The Street



CM77 8DQ

01376 741436

We say: You’ll find plenty of modern twists to the interior and the men here, but despite an extensive renovation, the heart of this country pub still remains.

The Griffin Danbury

64 Main Road




01245 699024

We say: This renovated, rustic-chic pub serves unpretentious seasonal food and changes its guest beers weekly.

Royal Hotel in Southend

1 High Street

Southend on Sea


01702 899 222

We say: This listed property built in 1791 was once a popular haunt of royalty and aristocracy. A sympathetic restoration of this jewel in the crown of Southend now boasts a ground floor cocktail bar and lounge, with a restaurant in the first floor ballroom.

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