(Elton John) – La Benaix, Rettendon Common
Val and I enjoyed an excellent meal last summer at La Bouchon near Maldon.
Since then the people behind La Bouchon have opened La Benaix at ‘The Wheatsheaf Centre’ on the old A130 near Rettendon. The Wheatsheaf was distinctive for having a brightly coloured Westland Helicopter in its gardens. I never visited The Wheatsheaf and it lay derelict for many years before being transformed into La Benaix.
Anyway, an opportunity for Sunday lunch with a friend presented itself, so what better excuse to try La Benaix?
We arrived 12:45, on schedule’ there were a couple of tables occupied, and one clearly preparing for the a 1pm 40th birthday party, there were balloons in evidence.
The Sunday lunch menu (two courses for £19.95 and three courses for £24.95) is broad, but not excessively so.
I ordered the Mussels starter, which was served with chilli, lemongrass and coconut milk. It was tasty and delicately spiced, with a pleasing bite of chilli.
For the main, I chose the ‘Rôti de bœuf’ which the menu described as “30 day aged roast rib of beef, duck fat potatoes, Yorkshire pudding & seasonal vegetables” – it was pleasant enough, a few slices of nicely roasted beef. The duck fat potatoes erred on the crunchy – rather than crispy – side, but there was nothing to complain about.
For dessert – and I don’t normally do desserts – I had the Millionaire’s shortbread, with salted caramel ice cream, orange gel and orange sable crumb. I know it’s getting passe, but the salted caramel was the stand-out for me.
All in all a pleasant enough meal, I enjoyed everything, but nothing blew me away. I wouldn’t have a problem going back, but again I won’t be rushing.
That said, it was very busy, so maybe it was just me.
One tiny niggle, and both my host and I commented on this, was the waiter insisting on calling us ‘you guys’.
I’m sorry, this place aspires to be a little smarter than a ‘Frankie & Bennies’ so shape up.