Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Haywards Restaurant, Epping

Sundays should be a day for long and leisurely lunches with family and friends. I don't think we all get the opportunity to do so as much as we would like, which is sad. We should try to make that time, but life does get in the way.

I recently went back to Him Indoors' stomping ground of Essex to have Sunday lunch with my in-laws. My mother in law has two favourite restaurants local to her, but one closed and everyone has been to the other many times before. Time to try somewhere new; Haywards of Epping. 

A fairly new restaurant, it draws from both contemporary and older traditions in its decor and food. Wood beams, wood floors, bistro style chairs evoke tradition, but the clean lines, airy open space are up to date elements.

The food similarly, has classic influences, but given a contemporary and innovative twist.

We all ordered from the three course Sunday lunch menu. However, we discovered there were some lovely little extras which came our way. 

First up was the amuse bouche - a veloute of celeriac with puffed rice topping.

It was light and bubbly, with flavours of roasted celeriac. It certainly was velvety. The puffed rice was homemade, puffed in its skin. A small bowl of delight, I could have licked it clean.

Next were the canapes... Can you guess what they are? 

They look like biscuits. However, they were savoury and curiously so! The rolls, so reminiscent of Cannoli, are little pastry tubes filled with light chicken liver parfait. Indulgent and full of calories, they were delectable! We were impressed how a traditional Italian dessert was reimagined in such an effective way.

The cute little mini macarons were beetroot with horseradish cream. Thankfully, the horseradish was mild and toned down, or it would have overpowered my sinuses as well as blot out the gentle sweetness of the beetroot. The macarons were fluffy, soft, made with real skill. 

"Cauliflower, Scallop, Curry"
Cauliflower puree and cous cous, raisins and pine nuts.

Cauliflowers get a bad press. People seem to think that they are only good for cauliflower cheese, and their nutritious qualities are overlooked because people think only green vegetables are good for them. The cauliflower puree was subtle, complimenting the scallop, and the gentle spicing did not overpower. Gentle turmeric with a hint of cumin and coriander, this was balanced, attractive and enjoyable. A fine dish.

"Heirloom beetroot, Goats Cheese"
Oven and salt baked beetroot, goats cheese mousse

We loved the presentation of this dish, the colours and shapes making bold statements on the blank canvas of the plate. The beetroot came plain cooked, gently pickled, roasted and pureed, different textures being achieved in each preparation. The creamy mousse was rich and heavy, the amount served being enough to enjoy, but not overcome the diner.

"Mushroom risotto, parmesan foam"
Sour dough crumble, parmesan foam

Covered with a mushroom flavoured foam, the risotto was hiding beneath. Flavourful and cooked just to the bite, the risotto got the thumbs up. It's just a shame that the picture doesn't look too great.

"Stone Sea Bass, Mushroom, Artichoke"
Steamed sea bass, mushroom consomme, roasted artichoke and puree

In a lovely bit of theatre, the fish was brought to the table, with the broth poured over at the table.

The fish was moist, perfectly cooked and fresh tasting. The consomme, although rich with mushroom flavours was a good complement to the fish. It could have overpowered the delicate fish, but was well observed. The artichoke puree and roasted artichoke were a welcome contrast in flavour and texture. An innovative and carefully designed dish, it was a great main course. 

The pre-dessert was a cute tiny Kilner jar full of pear jelly with chunks of cooked pear and pear cream on top. A small portion of delight which helped create expectation for the puddings to arrive.

"Chocolate, Lemon, Salted hazlenut"
Chocolate pave, salted hazlenut ice cream, lemon curd

Indulgent, creamy chocolate is what you see in the picture and was exactly what was delivered in real life. The pave was rich and satisfying. I had been sceptical about the ice cream, but my worry about the seasoning was misplaced. I had feared there would be too much salt, taking the ice cream into savoury territory. The merest hint of salt brought out the nutty sweetness of the hazlenut, the ice cream and lemon curd balancing the richness of the chocolate.

"Green Tea, Pistachio, Yoghurt"
Green tea mousse, pistachio sponge, yoghurt sorbet

The green tea pudding was beautifully presented with delicate, lovely colouring. The macaron madness continued with more perfect textured little delights. This dessert was a fresh, light tasting symphony of contrasting textures. 

The petit fours were indulgent creamy little chocolates. However, my mother in law pinched one of mine, so I can't tell you how they compared. How cheeky!

For fans of something more savoury than sweet, here is the wonderful cheese board selection, making you pretty spoilt for choice!

We were all way too stuffed with our generous lunch to eat any of the cheeses, although we did drool over them when on our way out.

Haywards Restaurant 

111 Bell Common, Epping, Essex CM16 4DZ 

Dining times:

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 6pm – 9.30pm        

Thursday:  12pm – 2.30pm and 6pm – 9.30pm

Friday and Saturday: 12pm – 2.30pm and 6pm – 10pm            

Sunday: 12.30pm – 3pm

01992 577350 

Our party paid in full for our meal. None of us have received any payment or incentive to post this review. 

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