REVIEW: Riverside Inn, Chelmsford
PUBLISHED: 13:06 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:23 29 May 2018
Stephanie Mackentyre visits Andi Walker's restaurant in Chelmsford to see what this recently opened location has to offer
There’s a growing trend in restaurants to offer a tasting menu to their diners, and I’m all for that. What could be better than trusting your favourite chef to cook with all his heart and soul, offering up some of his favourite dishes?
This month I went to get a taste of what Andi Walker is offering at his recently opened Riverside Inn restaurant in Chelmsford.
There is a five-course menu on Friday and Saturday nights for £40 per head where you are presented with a set menu Andi has carefully crafted. If a taster menu isn’t your style then you can choose to dine downstairs and enjoy the gastro pub and bar atmosphere. Upstairs is for fine dining and each month there’s a new menu showcasing Andi’s culinary flare.
When we visited Andi had cleverly managed to pick all of my favourite flavours on that month’s menu – a great start. Before the meal began we were served with thick slices of homemade rustic bread with Marmite butter.
I defy anyone, even those who don’t like Marmite, to dislike this delicious combination of flavours. The tasting menu had three savoury courses and two desserts. You can take a wine flight and enjoy a different wine suggestion with each dish for an extra £25 per person.
Our first dish was simply titled potato with mushroom and bacon. It was a mini dauphinoise potato with delicate layers of creamy, garlic potatoes, the saltiness of smoked bacon crumb cutting a dash throughout. Decorated with fine slices of fresh mushroom and baby nasturtium, the dark green leaves added a peppery element to the whole dish.
Next came cod with cauliflower and curry. I worried that the curry spices would overpower the fish fillet, but it wasn’t so. Instead we enjoyed a gentle balancing act between the crispy-skinned cod (so fresh you could still taste the clean saltwater), the raw cauliflower florets and cauliflower puree – this course was my favourite.
I only wished for another slice of the delicious bread to mop the plate (and an empty restaurant, so no one could see me do it!)
Our third dish was a duck course flavoured with five spice and served two ways. A succulent duck breast was served with perhaps more of a blush than I personally enjoy (I prefer my duck fat rendered so I can’t see the white).
This was paired with a crispy bon bon of confit duck leg all served with celeriac and a rich jus.
As my dining partner and I were both enjoying the tasting menu, there was another form of plate envy on my mind, as each course was served beautifully framed on a tantalising selection of handmade, pottery plates.
After three delicious courses we were left to relish the savouriness a little longer (our decision) before the first of two dessert courses arrived. The first was rhubarb, cheesecake and ginger, which was subtle but still superb, and then, to finish, a triumph of a dessert both in look, texture and exquisite taste.
A rich, dark chocolate slice topped with salted peanuts and oozing with caramel sauce alongside a caramel wafer served with a side of real ale ice cream.
I was back to wishing I was alone in the restaurant so that I could continually scrape every last scrap of loveliness from my plate.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £94.10 for a five-course tasting menu 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.