Restaurant review: The freshly renovated George Hotel, Colchester, Essex

The George is located on Colchester High Street

The George is located on Colchester High Street - Credit: Essex Life

After unveiling its exciting new look, we find out if this historic Colchester hotel and restaurant offers an experience to match, writes Stephanie Mackentyre.

The George Hotel is conveniently situated in the centre of the popular shopping town of Colchester, on the High Street.

The owners used the lockdown to undergo a massive refurbishment.

Although the exterior looks smarter, it’s not until you enter that you notice the myriad of colours that have brightened up the Grade II* listed interior, all while remaining sympathetic to the building’s rich heritage.

New interior at The George

New interior at The George, Colchester. - Credit: Essex Life

Moroccan-inspired colours and patterns complement the leafy-green walls, with brightly coloured rugs and seating giving the whole place a lighter, bolder vibe.

The restaurant is set on three separate levels, and the domed roof windows let in plenty of natural daylight. 

There’s a new menu to complement the new décor and we were offered a choice of tables to sit at, which I appreciated.

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No bread offered to begin our meal, which was a shame, but our drinks arrived swiftly.

Blush Pinot Grigio for me - you could taste the peach, raspberry and apple flavours, and a long cool lager for my guest, which we enjoyed whilst checking out the various dishes. 

The new courtyard at The George, Colchester

The new courtyard at The George, Colchester. - Credit: Essex Life

Although tempted by the oak-smoked Scottish salmon with a fennel and confit lemon and dill crème fraiche, I chose a vegetarian starter.

It was a wonderfully colourful plate of heritage tomato salad with pungent basil and mini balls of bocconcini cheese, rocket and a shallot and caper dressing.

My dining partner enjoyed their chicken terrine on a bed of baby gem leaves, with a parmesan mayo, anchovies and wonderfully crispy pancetta. 
For my main, I chose whole-roasted harissa-marinated bream. Not for the fish-bone-phobic as it comes whole (minus the head), it’s served with a watercress and pomegranate salad, with a mint-yogurt dressing.

Take your time to navigate the bones and you will be rewarded with buttery, white flakes of fresh fish.

For the vegetarian diner, there’s roasted flat mushroom and goat’s cheese burger with an onion relish, roasted garlic mayo, baby gem, red onion and tomato in a sesame toasted bun, finished off with skinny fries.

My guest, although almost swayed by the grill selection of pork, lamb or steak with a choice of sauces, instead chose roast rump of British lamb with roasted courgettes, peppers and aubergine, served with thyme-infused polenta chips. 
Although we had no room for more, we did take a look at the dessert menu for the purposes of the review.

However, the friendly waitress described the hot chocolate fondant pudding served with salted caramel ice cream with such enthusiasm that my partner was persuaded.

I decided to join him, sampling the fabulously creamy, milk panna cotta, served with poached peach, raspberries and toasted almonds. 

We took our coffees into the cosy courtyard, to the right-hand side of the restaurant.

It’s glass roof and original mini leaded windows give a Mediterranean feel, with comfy seating, scatter cushions and even lemon tree branches extending overhead.

The restaurant has plenty of comfortable corners for you to meet and relax over coffee or enjoy a full-blown meal.

With its fantastic new look and indulgent feel, I would book early. 

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The total bill came to £90.65 for a three-course dinner for two with drinks and coffees.

This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by Essex Life's food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

The George Hotel; 116 High Street, Colchester, CO1 1TD

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