Reviewed by Stephanie Mackentyre

Great British Life: The Creek interiorsThe Creek interiors (Image: Archant)

While out exploring Essex, I came across the former Flag pub, which has been transformed into a cosy bar and restaurant by new owners Terence and Caroline Howard. Terence has plenty of experience in the London scene working with well-known TV chefs, so I was keen to sample his menu. As you approach The Creek, warm, exterior lighting guides you to the frontage with parking right outside. Inside it’s a modern mix of olive green and chocolate brown which is instantly relaxing. The wine menu states a choice of wines available and you won’t find any from wholesalers or local stores, which is great for the wine buffs.

The Creek is open Wednesday through to Sunday, although just for lunch on Sundays. There is a set menu for £14.95 for two courses and £18.95 for three courses, but we chose from the a la carte menu on the night. Choosing to begin with a pre starter of home-marinated Greek olives along with warm Brightlingsea bakery bread slices served with garlic butter, oil and balsamic vinegar while we checked out the rest of the menu. For the celiac diners there were five starters you could choose from out of a total of seven and two were vegetarian. If two want to share, there was a whole baked camembert with a red onion and grape marmalade. However we began with smoked salmon, caviar, cream cheese, spring onion and oat biscuits for me while my dining partner chose lobster bisque from the specials board. Mine had good presentation and was plentiful too and his bisque was rather delicious.

For main course I was tempted by the pan-roasted sea trout served with shell-on king prawns, crushed new potatoes, asparagus and tomato veloute, but after much deliberation it was the roast lamb rump which won me over — served with pressed dauphinoise, buttered root vegetables and a cranberry jus.

My guest stayed with the specials board and enjoyed a sirloin steak with all the trimmings. The steak, he confirmed, was succulent and packed a meaty punch. My lamb was melt-on-the-tongue perfection and the thin layers of garlicky, creamy potatoes were a great accompaniment to the dish. We moved through to the bar to round off our evening, although we’d have preferred some softer seating perhaps and a warming focal point. However, their rather splendid sticky toffee pudding with a salted caramel ice cream soon refocused my mind, while my partner enjoyed a fine cappuccino to finish off our meal.

Useful to know

The total bill came to £81.50 for three courses for me and two courses for my guest, drinks and coffee. 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.

The Creek

Flag Hill, Great Bentley, Colchester, CO7 8RE, 01255 317950,

Three more places which have changed their spots

The Booking Hall Cafe

Station House, Station Road, Rayne, CM77 6RX, 01376 801029,

We say: This former station ticket office is sat right next to the Flitch Way. Popular with hikers, cyclists and ramblers, it’s a great platform for cake!

The Boathouse Restaurant

Mill Lane, Dedham, CO7 6DH, 01206 323 153,

We say: As the name suggests, plenty of messing about on the water has happened here – now it’s a popular restaurant with boats for hire.


High Street, Colchester, C01 1UG, 01206 575913,

We say: This former Georgian home has also been a private college in the past, now it’s educating our palates with fine dining in superb surroundings.