FROM escargots to good old sticky toffee pudding, Le Bouchon Brasserie and Hotel is a mish-mash of Gallic flair, quintessential Britishness and a peppering of the Mediterranean.

The restaurant is housed in a grade II listed, 300-year-old Georgian building, adjacent to the Chelmer and Blackwater canal, in the pretty village of Heybridge.

The food on the menu is mainly French with the likes of onion soup with a gruyere cheese crouton and mussels (Maldon natives, of course) with a white wine, cream, shallot and parsley sauce.

The brasserie was completely renovated a couple of years ago and now there is a swanky restaurant and plush hotel suites.

On a mild October evening, my husband Pat and I ventured out to the restaurant mid-week on the recommendation of a friend.

A friendly waiter seated us in the restaurant, complete with bright white ironed tablecloths and comfy, padded, dining chairs, where there were just a few other couples eating.

Letting our appetites dictate our dinner, we unintentionally opted for probably the least French dishes on the menu.

I went for the calamari rings to start which arrived in huge crispy circles on the plate. There were flecks of chilli in the breadcrumbs that gave it some punch and there was a good ratio of rings to sauce for dipping.

Pat liked the sound of the crab and crayfish tian.


He let me have a quick taste and the fresh seafood was complemented by the creamy avocado and horseradish and mascarpone and the peppery rocket.

My main dish of pan-fried sea bass with potato was beautifully cooked and the fish was soft but firm. It was steeped in a spring onion ragout and sauce vierge which was decadently rich.

Over on the other side of the table, Pat was confronted with the incredible Le Bouchon Gourmet Burger. This monstrously big feast of a burger consists of a toasted ciabatta with melted Stilton cheese, avocado, pancetta served with French fries.

He said that it was the best burger he had ever eaten and it was worth the zillion or so calories it contained.

To finish our lovely meal, we decided to share a fig and walnut tart. It arrived with a big scoop of fig ice-cream which gave an injection of sugary sweetness to the earthy flavours in the tart.



Calamari  £5.95
Crab avocado  £7.45
Le Bouchon burger  £12.55
Pan fired seabass  £15.05
Black fig tart with fig ice-cream  £7.50

THE VERDICT (Out of Five)

Atmosphere  3
Food 5
Decor 5
Value 4
Service 5

Disabled access? Yes