Located in Essex, Chelmsford is a lovely retreat, complete with outdoor activities, breathtaking architecture, shopping and, of course, food, including lots of tantalizing cuisine from British to Italian to Indian. To help make your culinary dining decision a bit easier, we’ve curated a list our ten favorite choices in the area.
Harbouring a warm environment and delectable cuisine for the past 20 years, Blue Strawberry Bistrot is the place to go for a relaxing meal. The building (complete with a Victorian-style conservatory housing the bar), creates an inviting, homely atmosphere perfect for sampling the hearty, comforting meals on offer. Serving lunch daily and dinner every day except for Sunday, the bistro offers something to suit every taste. Some of the recent highlights include the vegetarian tart with mixed greens and sweet potato fries and the seared salmon on a bed of new potatoes, watercress sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes.
Located between Ongar and Chelmsford, The Cuckoo is a delightful rustic haunt nestled in an idyllic locale, providing a relaxing atmosphere in which to feast upon incredible British cuisine imbued with international flavors. The interior is equally comfortable, with accents like a wood-burning stove that give a homely yet sophisticated feel to the environment, and there is also lovely outdoor seating for when the nights are warmer. The menu is seasonal, with dishes reflecting the freshest, high-quality ingredients. Serving lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday, the culinary team create dishes such as duck confit with savoy cabbage, mash potato, red wine and shallot jus and Brendon’s salmon fishcake with homemade tartare sauce and chips. For those with a sweet tooth, dessert options abound as well, with options like the deep-fried banana spring roll with toffee pecan sauce and caramel ice cream.
Situated on the corner of Market Square, Lek’s Thai Food is a restaurant that serves perfectly flavorful Thai cuisine. It’s a great dining option if you are in a rush, as the folks at Lek’s will have your dish made in no time at all. If you have some time, grab a seat outside on Market Square, relax, and watch the passersby while you enjoy your meal. The menu is brimming with amazing flavors and offers everything from starters to main dishes featuring meat, poultry and seafood plus plenty of veggie dishes. Start with an order of vegetable sesame toast followed by the gang dang ped (duck curry with coconut milk and green beans) or the Massaman kai (chicken Massaman curry with coconut milk and potatoes) for a satisfying meal.
If you have a craving for Indian cuisine, then Live Dosa should definitely be at the top of your dining list. Specializing in southern Indian cuisine, more specifically Keralan fare, the folks at Live Dosa take pride in this fact and serve nothing but traditional dishes to its diners. When visiting Live Dosa, start with the sambharvada, which is lentil soup with a bit of spice, followed by the Kerala fish curry cooked with cocum and spicy fish sauce or the egg roast, which is a hard boiled egg sautéed with onions, tomatoes and spices. This budget-friendly option is open for lunch and dinner every day except for Monday.
The New London Restaurant & Lounge is a fine-dining gem that opened in late 2013. A beautiful, stylish restaurant nestled inside a Victorian Grade two building, The New London offers discerning diners a first-class experience from the service straight through to the contemporary fare. Open Tuesday to Sunday, the restaurant presents a menu that will appeal to everyone, whether they’re meat eaters, seafood lovers or vegetarians – everything is seasonal, so you know it’s only the best. Delectable highlights include the pan-seared cod with winter ratatouille, olive crumb and basil oil and the yeasted cauliflower with crispy capers, potato fondant and pickled grapes. They also offer a menu for guests with allergies.
Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, American, $$$
Olio Restaurant is a family-owned and operated establishment specializing in delicious Italian fare. Within a warm, inviting space, guests can savor a host of dishes made in the ‘traditional Italian way’ using only the best ingredients available. No matter your dietary needs, the culinary team is more than happy to help you. You can’t go wrong with recipes like primavera risotto with peas, asparagus and mushrooms, or linguine with crab meat, chili, lemon, garlic and parsley. Visit Olio Tuesday to Sunday for lunch or dinner, and don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of wine.
Situated in the countryside in Chelmsford, Pig & Whistle offers gastronomes a lovely, cosy atmosphere where they can relax while dining and not feel rushed. Serving lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday, along with a Sunday carvery that features a choice of meat (gammon, beef, pork or turkey) plus potatoes and vegetables, Pig & Whistle’s main menu offers a host of comforting dishes to tuck into. These include the suet steak and kidney pudding with red wine jus plus peas and chips, or the salt and pepper calamari atop crispy salad with sweet chili sauce and chips. Pig & Whistle is a popular place, so it’s best to make a reservation.
A family-run establishment, Polignano Deli & Coffee Shop is a wonderful, friendly Italian deli and cafe. Headed by Marino Polignano, a native of Casamassima, Italy, this deli offers a warm, family-friendly environment, complete with family photos adorning the walls, in which to try flavourful items many of which you usually can’t find outside of Italy. Marino’s father packs up items from Italy every couple of weeks and sends them to the cafe so that diners can try unique items such as cime di rape. The menu features recipes handed down from generation to generation like parmagiana – thinly sliced and battered aubergine topped with scamorza cheese and Napolitan sauce, and polpette – meatballs in tomato and pea sauce with potato purée. Be sure to leave room for something sweet like the Italian baked cheesecake with barley and fruit.
Another incredible Italian restaurant located in the Chelmsford area, Vita Bella creates an array of authentic dishes that will keep you coming back for more. Opened in 2012, Vita Bella’s culinary crew procures the freshest ingredients available, which often includes produce from local sources. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant that can accommodate a larger group or an intimate gathering, Vita Bella fits the bill, and with a menu featuring a variety of hot and cold starters as well as entrées, it is guaranteed to suit many palates. Some recent delicacies include the gnocchi ai porcini – potato dumplings in a cream sauce with porcini mushrooms, basil and aubergine, and the vitello Milanese- breaded veal escalope with spaghetti Bolognese.
For a taste of Greece in the UK, be sure to add Zorba The Greek Taverna to your list of dining destinations. Serving up authentic Greek delicacies, this cosy restaurant will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to a warm, enchanting Greek island, as the atmosphere is friendly and the decor a classic blue and white. Using only the freshest ingredients available, the kitchen team at Zorba produces mouthwatering fare brimming with Mediterranean flavors. Start out with a dip like the tirokafteri (spicy Greek cheese dip with green peppers and chilies) followed by a comforting main like keftedes (meatballs which can be cooked with either meat or vegetables).