REVIEW: The Dedham Boathouse

Dedham Boathouse

Dedham Boathouse - Credit: Archant

Stephanie Mackentyre heads to Constable Country for a delightful meal at the Dedham Boathouse

Dedham Boathouse

Dedham Boathouse - Credit: Archant

Spring is here, with hopefully a good dose of warmer weather, so it's an ideal time to enjoy some of our county's finest restaurants which offer an al fresco option.

Even if you dine inside on a dull day, the vista from the Boathouse is rather beautiful. Set just a stone's throw from the very spot which inspired John Constable to paint The Hay Wain, you can't help but fall in love with the surroundings.

The weeping willow gently swaying over the River Stour, Dedham church in the distance and the traditional rowing boats with their varnished hulls sparkling in the afternoon sun — it's picture perfect, but does the menu live up to the landscape?

With a chilled glass of Blanc de Blanc in hand, I was having trouble choosing just one of the starters on offer, until I spotted the smoked platter to share.

Dedham Boathouse

Dedham Boathouse - Credit: Archant

A selection of smoked meats, fish and cheese served with marinated olives and red pepper houmous, partnered with homemade basil butter and rustic bread, was very agreeable indeed.

For main course more fish for me; this time the pan-seared salmon on a bed of spiced puy lentils served with samphire and a cardamom-roasted carrot.

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I think I'd almost been spoilt by my starter, such were the stunning flavours of each element. The salmon had a pleasing crispiness to the skin and lovely moist pink flakes of fish were complemented by the rich green samphire.

For my dining partner the rosemary and garlic braised lamb shank was delicious and plentiful with a creamy sauté leek and bacon mash, plus a selection of seasonal vegetables all finished with a rich lamb jus.

Desserts were a little too traditional for my taste; they included baked citrus tart with lemon curd and Italian meringue or warm sticky toffee pudding served with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce.

However, the cheeseboard sounded very interesting indeed with a choice of Suffolk Gold, Cornish Yarg, Smoked Dapple and Binham Blue served with biscuits, chutney, celery and grapes.

Despite the temptation, on this occasion,I decided to decline, but we left vowing to return and take up the invitation to dine then row on the Stour before the summer is out.

Useful to know

The total bill came to £61.80 for two courses for two people 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.

Petit Fours & Against

To be applauded: The service, which was swift, courteous and professional.

Prefer less of: The slight chill in the conservatory, but only because there was still a bit of a nip in the air the day that we dined.

Worthy of note: The smoked platter - this was just inspired.

Who would enjoy this place: Anyone who appreciates good food in relaxed yet stylish surroundings.

I wish I'd also tried: The new brunch and also afternoon tea menus sounded delicious.

Worth returning for: A 'row and dine'. Explore the River Stour in one of the rowing boats before returning for dinner. It sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Book a table

Dedham Boathouse

Mill Lane, Dedham, Colchester, CO7 6DH

01206 323153

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