SINCE the late great Peter Langan opened his little brasserie in Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, back in 1986, this little corner of Essex has been a centre for the very best in French cuisine.

After Peter died, it was taken over by one of the county's most exciting chef's Mark Baumann, and now Mark has gone on to culinary pastures new with Bourgee in Southend, it's the turn of head chef Johnboy Ranfield to continue that fine food tradition.

And I'm very pleased to say he's doing a very good job of it too.

Turning up on a mid-week lunch service, my wife and I were treated to an eating experience worthy of any fine dining establishment, great food, excellent service, and a lovely intimate atmosphere.

Inside not a lot has changed since the takeover, with Baumann's trademark eclectic art on the walls and plenty of pictures of the chef as well. I was told it's only a matter of time before Johnboy gets his portrait up on the walls and judging by the food he's serving up, he deserves it.

Our starters set the standard for our lunchtime treat.

My wife's light and tasty Parma ham, served with a cornucopia of items, including salad, olives and bread and butter, was a real refreshing appetiser.

But my pork belly bites were pretty hard to beat.

I always love a dish that makes me smile and served up in a Chinese bamboo steamer, the bites did just that. Succulent chunks of loveliness with a little bit of spice and big on flavour, plus little bamboo shoots and greens, almost made this a meal in itself.

What possessed me to then choose another rich meaty dish, I do not know. Oh yes, it's because I'm a massive glutton who cannot resist a confit of duck leg, especially with creamy dauphinoise and a jus to die for. Lord knows what my arteries thought of it all but my tastebuds loved it.

My wife, being the sensible kind of person she is chose far more wisely with the crumbly asparagus tart - yum!

We definitely didn't need the sides of more salad, baby potatoes or carrots and mangetout, although the veg was a very welcome mopping up aid for my delicious sauce.

Rather unsurprisingly we shared our dessert and steered clear of the cheesecake, brulee and crumble, opting for a parfait, a dish I would never normally pick.

Well I'm glad did because this classic French frozen desert was fresh, fruity and tart. An absolute delight. Not quite a sorbet and not quite ice cream but the perfect combination of the two.

With impeccable service throughout, as the waiter batted back our numerous culinary queries with swift and smart answers, Ranfield's is keeping up a glorious history that will keep diners coming back for years to come.


What we ate:

Lunch menu two courses for £18, three courses for £20.50

Pork belly chilli bites.

Poached pear and Parma ham, olives, wilted salad, bread and butter.

Confit of duck leg with dauphinoise pots plus pan juices.

Asparagus, red onion and blue cheese tart, with assorted leaves.

Raspberry and lime parfait with mojito sorbet.

Side of carrots and mangetout £2.50

Side salad £2.50

Side of baby potatoes £3

Our verdict:

Atmosphere 4

Decor 5

Value 4

Food 5

Service 5