A gastro delight in the heart of Constable country

We were on our way to dinner at Milsoms, a 15-bedroom country house hotel and restaurant on the Essex/Suffolk border, which is conveniently located just off the A12 in the Dedham Vale. This area is often described as Constable country, where you can find some of Essex’s most-famous views. Sadly, though, our evening dining slot in March meant we wouldn’t be seeing many of them! Still, when we pulled up to the stately ivy-clad hotel, we were not disappointed. Even in the darkness you could appreciate the abundant greenery of the glorious grounds.

We were keen to visit as the kitchen had just reopened after a £500,000 investment; since January, chefs and front-of-house teams have been working from a temporary kitchen in a marquee – so I’m sure they’re delighted to be in their sparkly new space.

Great British Life: Milsoms Hotel & Restaurant. (c) MilsomsMilsoms Hotel & Restaurant. (c) Milsoms

There was a friendly greeting on arrival, then we headed for a seat on the mezzanine. The restaurant takes walk-ins only, so you can’t book ahead. But in this large, busy restaurant there is always a table already on dessert! If you are after a bookable events space, there is Mr G’s and The Library, both private dining areas catering for larger parties.

As we moved through the restaurant, I noticed the contemporary feel and modern art on the walls, and I was impressed at how buzzy the atmosphere was for a Thursday evening in an out-of-town location.

I advised the waitress that my dining partner was gluten-free and she returned with an entire GF menu, which was an appreciated touch. We ordered in the informal way of jotting it down on a slip and handing it to a team member. I enjoyed the novelty of this process and it certainly adds to the relaxed feel.

Great British Life: Beetroot and goats cheese starter.Beetroot and goats cheese starter. (Image: Kimberley Hammond)

After a glass of crisp, dry Gavi, our starters arrived and I was dazzled at how pretty they looked. I ordered the salt-baked baby beetroot salad, which came with the softest, most creamy goat's cheese I have ever eaten, tasty pickled shallots, apples and sweet candied walnuts for crunch.

My partner’s starter was also a 10/10: Moroccan-spiced roasted purple carrot with whipped feta, smoked honey chickpeas and mint. Both starters were so well balanced and delicate.

We went full comfort food for our mains. I had the locally sourced 28-day dry-aged sirloin steak with all the trimmings and my friend had gluten-free fish and chips. Both of these classic dishes used the highest quality ingredients and were cooked to perfection. A silky and delectable vanilla and raspberry ripple cheesecake meant I ended my meal on a high.

Great British Life: Vanilla and raspberry ripple cheesecakeVanilla and raspberry ripple cheesecake (Image: Kimberley Hammond)

Dinner at Milsoms is a delight: an informal and relaxed affair run by a team who are clearly passionate about food and service. Tables of families, work colleagues, couples and friends all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves in the stylish and lively eatery.

I am already looking forward to returning to Milsoms in the summer – perhaps on a mini walking holiday to enjoy the delights of the area. We can dine al fresco in the idyllic gardens and even bring the pooch along to stay.

milsomhotels.com | 01206 322 795

Great British Life: The terrace at Milsoms. (c) MilsomsThe terrace at Milsoms. (c) Milsoms (Image: Milsoms)