Dining out at The Pipe of Port Wine Bar, Southend
Reviewed by Stephanie Mackentyre
When you think of Southend, it conjures up images of sunshine, sandy beaches and the longest pleasure pier in the world. The Pipe of Port takes you away from all of that for an hour or so and transports you to a Dickensian wine cellar, complete with sawdust floors and plenty of burning candles dripping their wax trails down bottle necks. There’s plenty to choose from. A pocket-saver menu is a very reasonable �11.50 for two courses or �14.50 for three. There’s also light lunches and snacks, a selection of specials, plus a comprehensive main menu, and a further seven dishes on the cold table menu. However, the homemade pies are legendary and I couldn’t wait to sample one.
Described as very generous, I decided not to have any side dishes just to see if I could finish one for my lunch, but which one? Before I could sample the phenomenon which has kept people talking about this wine bar for the past 15 or so years, my starter of homemade chicken and duck liver pate with a glass of the house wine arrived. The wine, Loron from France, is specially imported by The Pipe of Port’s owners. This dry yet luscious-tasting white wine suited the pate dish well and was an excellent start to my meal.
With swift service my plate was cleared and my mammoth seafood pie arrived – I’d picked the trawler pie. Plenty of crispy edged, creamy mash to dive into with freshly-grated cheese on top, while underneath, good, meaty chunks of salmon and white fish within a creamy, herby sauce. A third of the way through I was already full, but the moorish flavour kept tempting me, until eventually it was all gone. Alas there wasn’t an inch of space left within me to try the ice cream served with hot raspberries or spotted dick and custard.
Useful to knowThe total bill came to �15.50 for two courses, with a glass of house white. 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.
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Table Talk with diner William Boon, and his guests Jessie Brimson, Gaye Bright and Jan and Ross Urquhart
What brought you to The Pipe of Port? I’m celebrating my 80th birthday.
What did you choose from the menu? To be honest I only had a toasted sandwich as I’m out again tonight for another birthday meal. However, I’m one of their longest-standing customers and I particularly enjoy the pies.
What do you like about The Pipe of Port?I’ve been coming here since they opened and just love their range of dishes, you never get bored. Plus there’s a lovely atmosphere, you never feel out of place, even on busy Saturday nights.
Rate their value for money: 9/10, I would never give any restaurant a 10.
Would you recommend it to friends? Oh yes, and I do regularly.
What was the best part of your meal? It’s always the friendliness of the waiting staff and the welcome from the owner, Steve. He’s such a nice man.
Two more bistros with masses of charm
The Warehouse12 Chapel Street NorthColchesterC02 7AT01206 765656
We say: This former Methodist chapel still has its original pews and there is plenty to praise about the fabulous dishes on offer here.
Crofters Brasserie25 Maldon RoadWithamCM8 2AA01376 511068
We say: Enjoy the easy-flowing wine and bubbling conversation, helped along by the eclectic artwork on display and great food.
Book a table
The Pipe of Port84a High StreetSouthendSS1 1JN01702 614 606