Lunch with The Harbourside Restaurant, Harwich

Nick Chambers has been general manager at The Harbourside Restaurant at Harwich's Pier Hotel for more than nine years working alongside head chef Chris Oakley.

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Harbourside at The PierThe QuayHarwichCO12 3HH 01255 241212

Nick Chambers has been general manager at The Harbourside Restaurant at Harwich’s Pier Hotel for more than nine years now, working alongside head chef Chris Oakley. A fantastic new pewter bar has been recently added, serving an intriguing assortment of spirits, beers and wines, and the watery vista of the restaurant still takes your breath away. A choice of 14 beautiful bedrooms, some with estuary views, offer the perfect excuse to make more of your dining experience and some delightful individual touches include Ren products in the bathrooms (normally only found in Harrods or Selfridges), and jelly beans and cookies in the mini bars. Some of the doubles are also large enough to convert to family rooms, suiting a child friendly, family-orientated vibe.

Family friendlyChildren at the Harbourside Restaurant can pick their selections from their own mini menu, serving some great fresh foods children will actually eat. Generations of families visit this favourite stop on the water’s edge in Harwich and Chris is very good about remembering them all. The cuisine has moved on as people’s tastes have changed, however you’ll always find lobsters (which are caught in pots just off the quay each morning), Dover sole, smoked salmon, oysters and scallops. However, classic steaks now feature, very highly too, with the meat coming from the Dedham Vale. ‘It’s almost like a steakhouse at times. We use only the very highest quality meat. We believe in keeping the dishes simple. It is all about local produce, cooked well,’ Chris explains.

Monday to Friday lunchtimes there’s both a set lunch menu which changes weekly at a very reasonable �19.50 per head for two courses, plus the a la carte menu. Sunday lunches are still incredibly popular with the Harbourside serving a traditional set lunch menu, which changes weekly. Part of the Milsom Group, its proximity to the quay allows The Pier Hotel to combine sailing trips and dinner or you can try your hand at sea bass fishing and have what you catch cooked in the restaurant.

Our starter of seared scallops with crispy pancetta with a watercress salad and grain mustard and a cider vinaigrette arrived. Chris uses American scallops which are roe-less and sweeter, enabling you to eat a little more. Main course was an enormous platter of surf and turf, whole lobster and Dedham Vale fillet steak with garlic herb butter hand-cut chips and b�arnaise sauce – a magnificent feast for the eye and palate. Each of the Milsom restaurants have their individual characteristics so you’ll find wines at the Harbourside you wouldn’t find at any of the others. ‘We work with the wine merchants to choose individual wines to complement our dishes,’ added Chris.

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For dessert, Chris served us with chocolate fondant pudding with a chocolate and raspberry centre and homemade honeycomb ice cream, both just heavenly. Some might be hesitant about visiting Harwich for a day out, though one visit to the Harbourside will make you change your mind.

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