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Pulling Mussels (from the shell)

(Squeeze) – Loch Fyne – Chelmsford

I should, perhaps, start this review with a caveat, I’m not a lover of fish and so Loch Fyne has not featured heavily on my dining radar.

As Will Smith’s character observes in ‘Enemy of the State’ – “it all tastes of fish“.

That said, Val enjoys fish, it was our wedding anniversary and, while we’d agreed to keep things low-key, I’d seen an Amazon Local deal – three courses and a glass of wine for twenty quid a head.

Having gotten that lot out of the way, on to Loch Fyne, which for some time has been stranded near Bond Street, an unfashionable part of central Chelmsford. Their patience is soon to be rewarded because, while they’re currently neighbours to a building site ( the terrace ‘looks out’ onto hoardings), the area will soon be home to a new shopping complex with a John Lewis store, cinemas and restaurants. As the saying goes, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats‘ and the future for Loch Fyne should be rosy.

We arrived a little early for our dinner, there were a few other diners but were greeted warmly – identified as an Amazon pre-paid customer – shown to a table overlooking the patio and the aforementioned hoardings, and presented with the prix fixe menu. There was no attempt to up-sell.

Val ordered the duck pate starter with toast. The pate was served in a tiny, trendy ‘Kilmer’ style jar. She reported it to be delicious, with an orange and lemon topping. I had a ‘starter’ portion of juicy, rope-grown mussels, cooked ‘mariniere’ style. The sauce was slightly salty, but I devoured it using the accompanying slices of  crusty bread.

For main our main courses,Val  ordered fish & chips, with ‘mushy peas’. The fish (a choice of cod or haddock) wasn’t the largest portion, but my wife enjoyed it, along with the generous portion of chips. The ‘mushy peas’ were actually a trendy minted pea purée, I suspect that a Yorkshireman would have sent them back.

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Having said that I don’t do fish, I ordered the burger and – rather cheekily – requested that it be cooked as rare as the chef is allowed. To his credit, and I hope this review doesn’t cause him any problems, it was deliciously juicy. Served medium-rare, and topped with cheese, bacon, dill pickle, lettuce and tomato – with a side order of skinny French-fries. Frankly this was as good a burger as I’ve enjoyed for a very long time.

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For dessert I enjoyed a subtle crème brûlée with a crispy topping that gave a satisfying crack when whacked with a tea-spoon.

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Val had the espresso pannacotta, which had several layers of sweet coffee deliciousness.

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I rarely drink wine, so my wife had both the glasses of wine that came with the package deal, I ordered a bottle of the ‘Highlander’ IPA which hails from Loch Fyne itself. It was very tasty, belying the ‘there can be only one’ line from the Highlander movie; I simply had to order a second.

Highlander IPA at Loch Fyne, Chelmsford @ tolfalas.com

As we left, at about 8pm after an unhurried meal, there were about nine tables occupied by diners, and a glance at the bookings sheet suggested that fewer than half were on pre-paid deals. When Chelmsford’s new ‘Bond Street’ development opens they should, despite increased competition, get busier.

For me, the quality of the burger has opened the Loch Fyne to me as a place to visit again.

 

Rating: ★★★★½

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