Charming pub restaurant in a quiet village location of Essex serving simple and well done dishes
(Editor’s note: review written at time of former head chef to Tim Allen in residence). When Executive chef Daniel Clifford opened Flitch of Bacon, the original idea was to provide down to earth and good pub food in an attractive setting. Whilst this was achieved, the market has reportedly made Mr Clifford re-assess and adapt to a more up-market menu within a pub context. The 3 course a la carte dinner for £55 included pleasant extras and was essentially a scaled down and more accessible version of his 2 Michelin starred Midsummer House. Initially, I was actually a bit miffed to learn of this on entry as I was looking forward to something scaled down, like the chips with sauce béarnaise, but the new menu here, under head chef Martin Major, proved to be done with some passion and was not a disappointment. One dish in particular was knock out and I left with a content skip after the whole meal. In short, these were traditional flavours with modern twists and basically very pleasing in an alluring pub. There is an attractive counter dining table in the main restaurant area that overlooks the open kitchen and I thought this was a very nice touch for any couple. Comforting, stylish and with good food – is there much more you need? Yes, a bed…..thankfully it’s now a restaurant with rooms as well.
After being sat at the counter table, snacks came in the form of turbot croquette with taramaslate and dill that had a nice balance of herb, lemon and fish and a garlic cracker with olive gel. The latter was very light and had gentle handling of the garlic which was nicely done. Plain olives were fresh with good flavour. The amuse bouche was a butternut foam with bitter lemon, parsley oil, salt and vinegar pumpkin seeds and this was a lovely, autumnal and warming amuse bouche to have – good choice. Good sour dough came with very good butter.
My starter of local trout, cured with lapsing souchong gel came with creme fraiche sorbet (beautifully sweet), salt from Japanese bread crumb powder and gorgeous green cucumber ketchup with crunch from thinly sliced sour dough. This was utterly refreshing that had absolutely everything going in its favour – textures, freshness, originality, flavour and good quality ingredients and the cucumber ketchup was insanely good. This dish would have not have looked out of place in virtually any Michelin starred restaurant and more importantly, it was bang for buck on flavour.
The main of Partridge came with truffle, barbecued sweet corn, confit leg and onion. The sweet corn barbequed was one of the nicest parts and the Partridge itself was juicy and avoided being too dry. The sommelier paired this with a good Grenache Blanc that was fulsome, fruity & dry at the same time. One gripe for this dish was the size of the main which was quite small, but thankfully on the side was a rather good truffled macaroni cheese to help fill the tank up. Whilst it was not firework territory, the main was pleasing.
Pre-dessert came in the form of plum compote, almond foam and tonka meringue. The meringue was beautifully done but I felt the almond could have had its volume increased as it slightly struggled against the strength of the plum. However, a pleasant little pre-dessert to have. The actual dessert came in the form of black mission fig, grape, buttermilk and sparkling wine emulsion. I have say the buttermilk panna cotta was absolutely outstanding (so smooth and creamy) and this was complimented well with the olive crisp and fig sorbet. The only element that I didn’t need too much of was the sparkling wine foam as this slightly took over the panna cotta being at the acidity it was. Less of the latter would have been just the job for me here, but ultimately it was a superb panna cotta. The elderflower petit four was a nice touch with coffee as well.
The bill all in for 3 courses, glass of wine and coffee came to £73 which, by all accounts with all extras is good value for money, especially when considering it was a 6 course meal including coffee and petit fours. Service ranged from homely to needing a touch more finesse on occasion, but the main thing here was that it was a beautifully done interior of a pub with a perfectly decent enough menu, done by an energetic chef at the helm and a good atmosphere within the team that was obvious to see and hear. Flitch of bacon is an upmarket pub and I think it would be very hard not to be comfortable here and is the perfect venue for bringing a partner, especially if you wanted something of an uplift and personable but not over the top at the same time. I can imagine the rooms are equally well designed and overall the meal here was actually a good enough advert to want to come and stay over one night. It was the sort of visit where I asked myself on the way out, “Why haven’t I been here before?”.
Food Grade: 77%
Location (Click google logo for directions)