Finding somewhere to eat out on a Sunday evening is tricky, especially living in the coastal wilds of Essex – so our visit to the Crown Plaza "Brasserie 1" was something of a recce for future occasions. My review focuses upon the eating rather than the hotel experience.
One’s first impression of the hotel is of a rather cosmopolitan scene that could be found in any city of the world, rather than sleepy Tolleshunt D’Arcy – the next sensory experience as the reception door opened was the rather over powering swimming pool aroma, a function no doubt of the linked leisure club pool – and we were not there for a swim!
As we arrived were a bit concerned that we might be alone, but thankfully there were a few couples eating. We enjoyed a warm welcome, seated and handed a menu. It was an attractive selection if rather limited. Our starter of ham hock terrine was pleasant, though nothing to write home about. My main was a 12-hour braise of blade of beef, which was tasty, but I doubted had the quoted time in the cooking, because there were parts of it that required a sturdy knife to cut. My companion had the fillet of Seabass with a risotto, which he enjoyed. The thing that amused us, and by the end of the meal rather annoyed my architect friend was the design of the crockery and flatware, it was very big on design, but not ergonomics. Neil’s fork was from the Uri Gella house of design – it was fashioned to be a large S shape, which when pressure was applied capsized the implement, making it completely useless as an eating iron. And the bowl that our main course was served in was huge, and round, and very deep – it really did require specialised lifting equipment rather than our designer utensils to enjoy the food.
As we finished our main course another friend joined us for pudding – and we all had Bakewell tart, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
So overall: the food was fare, and the price quite high; service was friendly but a little lacking in good knowledge of what they were serving; the beer menu was poor – because knowing what range of beers and lagers were available in nearby pubs, made the drinking experience a bit dismal; the atmosphere was strong on design but very lacking in warmth and comfort. Would I come again: maybe in the summer when its warmer, and there are a few more people to lift the atmosphere.
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