Following the huge success of Andi Walker’s pop-up in gastropub Riverside Inn in Chelmsford last year, Andi is set to take over the whole restaurant from January 2018 with a brand-new bistro-inspired menu.
I attended the launch night 25th January with my friend Grace, and we enjoyed an evening of canapes, bubbly and networking! The evening signified the launch of Andi’s takeover, with lighter refreshments in the bar area, a gastro-pub running downstairs and a fine dining seven-course tasting menu taking place in the upstairs restaurant using local and seasonal produce. Rumour has it the opening of an exciting brunch menu will be taking place in March, too!
Who is Andi Walker?
Andi was a Masterchef the Professionals semi-finalist in 2015, and his culinary talents have certainly not gone unnoticed since. Walker has held pop-up events in Leeds, and held an autumn-menu event at an exclusive cafe in Paris. In October, Walker reached the finals in Chef of the Year category at the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards, showing that his food has an incredible impact locally and world-wide.
The evening started with complimentary cocktails and prosecco, so Grace and I had a glass of prosecco each and found a table at the bar to sit, relax and catch up on before the launch night got into full swing!
The restaurant decor is beautiful; it’s classy, sophisticated and warming, and it feels like a great restaurant to visit with friends for a catch up meal, or date night with a partner. There’s also an outdoor beer garden with comfy lounge chairs and ambient lighting – so I can’t wait to take full advantage of this in the summer!
The canapes began with a butternut squash bhaji with a yoghurt dip – which tasted incredible. The batter was light, crunchy and not at all greasy, and the butternut squash filling inside was piping hot and soft, packed with intense flavour. They were really moreish and I could definitely have made my way through a few more… The cool minted yoghurt dip worked really with the bhaji too. This was definitely Grace and I’s favourite canape of the evening!
Next, I tried the ham hock. I’ve never tried ham hock before but after a quick Google, it seems ham hock is the ‘extreme shank end of leg bone.’ The meat was moist, tender and melt in the mouth, encased in a deliciously crispy breaded coating.
The third canape I tried was the Essex sausage roll. This was probably hands down the best sausage roll I’ve had in a long time. The sausage meat was tender and packed with lots of flavour, and the pastry was flaky and moreish. It also had a honey glaze coating which made the sausage roll deliciously sweet and sticky – I think I ate around 3 of this because I couldn’t resist going back for more!
The next canape on the menu was southern fried chicken served with a chunky BBQ salsa. The chicken breast was tender and piping hot, and the southern fried breaded coating was soft and authentic. I took a big dip of the BBQ salsa too, and that was sweet and smoky and worked really with the chicken. Again, super moreish to eat and it went down an absolute treat.
The final canape I tried was the breaded monkfish served with tartare sauce. I absolutely love fish so I stuck right into this one – Grace has an allergy to this one so I got stuck right in for her! The fish was tender, flaky and melt in the mouth, and again the breadcrumb coating was crunchy and complimentary to the fish. The tartare sauce had a lovely tangy kick to it, and it tasted fresh and well-flavoured.
I’m gutted I didn’t get a chance to sample any more canapes, or try the desserts, but it’s a good enough reason to head back to Riverside Inn to book the 7-course tasting menu to try them out!