The Braintree eating house providing fresh, local food
- Credit: Archant
What makes a local, independent restaurant preferable to a generic chain restaurant? We spoke to Rob Ely of The Chophouse, Braintree to find out what makes his eating house different and why local food is better…
Locally sourced food
Although some see sourcing food locally as a fad that has been superficially adopted as practice by many restaurants, it’s still a great way to support small, local businesses and boost the economy of the area.
Around Ninety percent of farms, producers & businesses who supply The Chophouse are based within 30 miles away from the restaurant. Far from being a fad, the ethos is food and drink sourced locally for its freshness, with a focus on high quality ingredients. “Customers say ‘this is one of the best steaks I’ve ever had’, so it’s worth spending more on better quality,” says Rob.
Sourcing local doesn’t limit a restaurant’s options; there’s an abundance of fresh produce and quality producers in Essex. Keeping close ties with local suppliers means restaurants can ensure standards are kept. When visiting an independent restaurant that uses local suppliers, you are supporting a whole chain of companies and local people.
The Chophouse keeps a very strong relationship with its local Essex suppliers. For example, all beers and ales are sourced from Bishop Nick, based less than a mile away and where they are brewed and bottled. “We have great local suppliers like Blixes farm for our meat and family-run Peter Watts for our wine. We have a close relationship with all our producers,” explains Rob. When taking over the restaurant in 2015, he meticulously sought the finest suppliers around, visited many sites to find out about the production processes and chose the perfect options which happened to be right on the doorstep.
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Local food varies by season meaning menus can be augmented with the freshest ingredients. There are also added benefits including optimal flavour and not relying on pesticides as they grow naturally depending on the season and are harvested at just the right time.
All food at The Chophouse, including sauces and stocks, is made on site from scratch. Rob says: “When ordering a plate of sausage and mash, absolutely everything is made in house, from the sausages to the red onion jam.” Menu staples are complemented with exciting seasonal dishes (with new additions frequently made by head chef Richard), which can all be made to suit the dietary needs of diners.
Eating houses are a community for many people, so businesses should reflect this in their service. Rather than the impersonal interactions of chain restaurants, a more homely approach can be taken at local eateries, with regulars and returning customers coming back to try something new.
Service at The Chophouse is relaxed and unpretentious, while remaining attentive and making sure that each customer is fully looked after throughout their visit. All this while still providing a high quality gourmet dining experience. “We don’t always put emphasis on fancy presentation, it’s all about flavour! This ethos is carried through in our customer service. We want to get the balance right so we’re not alienating them like some pretentious restaurants can,” says Rob.
Make sure to try the unique experience of Sunday lunch at The Chophouse; three meats come out on platters with bowls of trimmings and hefty Yorkshire puddings. Perfect for sharing, this is a truly social experience.
The Chophouse in Braintree is the award-winning Essex gastro pub whose menu is comprised of uncomplicated, hearty dishes made with fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients with a full focus on flavour.
Book a table at The Chophouse to see for yourself.
34 New Street, Braintree CM7 1ES