Restaurant review: Alec’s Restaurant, Brentwood

Photo courtesy Alec's Restaurant

Photo courtesy Alec's Restaurant - Credit: Archant

It can be tricky to get a table at this Brentwood restaurant. Stephanie Mackentyre finds out why...

Photo courtesy of Alec's Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Alec's Restaurant - Credit: Archant

When I booked my table for two, I had to take a table at 2.30pm such was the popularity of Alec’s on a Thursday lunchtime. With our table on a glazed balcony enjoying views of farmland, it’s not difficult to see why.

We chose to dine at Alec’s as it offers both an a la carte menu as well as a very reasonably-priced set menu at £23.50 for two courses and £29.50 for three (Wednesday to Saturday 12.30pm through to 4.30pm).

With an amuse bouche courtesy of the chef and a glass of prosecco in hand, we began to look through the fine choice of eight starters and nine main courses.

I began with the soft-shell crab with a seaweed mayonnaise and lime dressing. It was wonderfully light despite being deep fried and the subtle flavours all melded into one superb starter. My dining guest chose crispy duck spring rolls with a plum sauce. Both were well presented and plentiful. Feeling rather peckish due to the slightly later booking, we also shared some freshly-baked French bread.

The drinks list features a wide range of cocktails including an exclusive Towie Star, plus a good range of non-alcoholic cocktails and an extensive list of liqueurs, spirits, beers, wines and Champagnes with at least two sparkling wines and Champagnes being sold by the glass.

Main course continued to please with slow-roasted pork belly with wonderfully crisp crackling for my guest, served with butternut squash and cider sauce plus two sides of caramelised green beans and dauphinoise potatoes.

Photo courtesy of Alec's Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Alec's Restaurant - Credit: Archant

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I pushed the boat out and, for a supplement of £7, chose an all-time favourite of half lobster thermidor with a side salad (the sides are charged for separately). The lobster was just as good as I’d hoped it would be and even the side salad was served with fresh tomatoes, red onion, cucumber and leaves with vinaigrette and topped with Parmesan.

We completed a most enjoyable experience with a trio of Alec’s desserts. Mini versions of raspberry pavlova, a rich chocolate mousse and a Bailey’s crème brûlée arrived (complete with a pleasing crack when the spoon hit the dark caramel topping). Just perfect.

Every aspect of our lunch was professionally executed, and our waiter made us feel like VIPs with friendly chat and helpful menu suggestions. This restaurant’s excellent reputation is hard earned and well deserved.

Petit fours & against

To be applauded: The vast range of cocktails. Another time I’ll bring a designated driver with me.

Could do with more: Space for all of the people clamouring to dine there, and rightly so.

Worthy of note: The combination of flavours for each dish. This is a very well structured and thought through menu.

Could have done without: There was a cress garnish on the side salad served with my half lobster thermidor. I might be being picky, but it was just not my cup of tea.

Who would enjoy this place? If you want to be seen in the right place then stylish dining at Alec’s is definitely for you.

I wish I’d also tried: Classic Provencal fish soup followed by Miso cod with soy and radish.

Worth returning for: The setting is stunning and I loved dining in the middle of a glass balcony overlooking a pretty farmland landscape. The service was also absolutely terrific.

Useful to know: The total bill came to £102.85 for two dishes each, a shared assiette of desserts, plus 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.

Navestock Side, Brentwood CM14 5SD;

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