Dining Out at The County Kitchen Restaurant, County Hotel, Chelmsford

Stephanie Mackentyre gets a taste of Essex

OFTEN it’s the case that restaurants within hotels get overlooked when you’re searching for that perfect place to eat. So this month I’ve shaken the dust covers off one of the county’s best hotel restaurants. The County Hotel is in the heart of Chelmsford with its own car park, a real plus for such a busy and prominent location. The restaurant itself has a mellow, Mediterranean feel and there’s plenty going on with a new Sunday lunch carvery now launched at only �14.95 a head for two courses. There’s also wine and food appreciation nights and regular dinner dances too, the next is on Saturday, April 17.

A new menu has recently become available wherever you decide to dine throughout the hotel. The first thing which struck me was the sheer choice and imaginative selection of dishes, a full list of interesting salads and pastas, plus steak, catch of the day and plenty of locally-produced meats with all dishes promising to be fresh, seasonal and locally sourced and available all day from 11am through to 10pm.

Finally, I chose to start with duck and ham hock terrine with celeriac r�moulade and walnut bread. Easily one of the best I’ve tasted, the terrine was full of flavours and served with fresh dressed, crisp rocket and the bread was lightly toasted and drizzled with olive oil.For main course I’d gone for the lamb cutlets with potato dauphinoise and celeriac puree. The lamb arrived piping hot, pink and tender with plenty of meat around each of the three cutlets. Surrounded by a rich jus, the potato and celeriac set the dish off a treat. I could have ordered an extra panache of vegetables, but I was already feeling rather well fed due to the generous portions.

I perused the dessert menu for research purposes only, noting the five choices of dessert, a separate selection of ice creams and sorbets and then was seduced by the inspired selection of cheeses – I was glad I did.      Useful to knowThe total bill came to �32.25 for three courses and a glass of 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. 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.

Table talkers

Table Talk with diners Nigel Papalie, Chris Knowles, Kerry Stephens and Rachel Harvey

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Nigel, what do you do? I’m an insurance broker.

What did you choose from the menu? Lamb cutlets.

How did you discover The County Kitchen Restaurant? Our clients, Kerry and Rachel, recommended it.

Describe your dining experience in three words:Contemporary, attentive, presentation.

Rate their value for money: Very good. 

Would you come again? Yes, definitely.

What was the best part of your meal? Definitely the lamb cutlets.

Side orders

Three more hotel restaurants worth taking a fresh look at

The Manor Hotel & RestaurantBerwick Pond RoadRainhamRM13 9EL01708 555586

We say: It’s within easy reach of Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster with the A13 just minutes away yet its surrounded by rolling fields and provides a welcome oasis.

The White Lion HotelMarket Cross PlaceAldeburgh, SuffolkIP15 5BJ01728 452 720

We say: With the beach front just across the road, there’s plenty of prom to pound in order to work up an appetite.

Radisson SAS HotelLondonStanstedWaltham CloseCM24 1PP01279 66 1012

We say: Your holiday can start before you leave the tarmac with a super meal here in Stansted.

Book a table

The County Kitchen RestaurantThe County Hotel29 Rainsford RoadChelmsfordCM1 2PZ01245 455 700

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