The town of Dedham stands on the banks of the River Stour. Straddling the border between the counties of Essex and Suffolk, like the invisible line of the Equator. It is stemmed in history, including recognition in the Domesday book; and the inspiration behind one of England’s most loved artist Constable. The town has an abundance of Georgian and timber framed houses, it is like a portal to days gone by.
Crossing the bridge between the counties and passing over the Stour, leads visitors to the picturesque setting of the Dedham Boathouse Restaurant and boat hire.
The Boathouse Restaurant
The boathouse is owned and run by Cameron and Claire Marshall. In 2002 following a full season, they took upon the mammoth task of closing the existing cafe; and re-opening as a high-end fine dining establishment.
I am a great advocate for eating well, in my honest opinion The Boathouse steps outside these boundaries and is worthy of 5 stars. The menu is exceptional, catering for all dietry needs from vegetarian to the carnivores; like myself.
My wife and I began our food adventure with the mixed homemade breads, with an outstanding red pepper houmous.
Following the hearty starter, we began the main course. Julia opted for the pressed pork belly, accompanied with a white cabbage confit; burnt apple puree and what can only be described as a pork crackling sail.
I choose a favourite of mine, Moroccan lamb rump, sat on a bed of spiced cous cous; marinated feta and wilted spinach. Following my first mouthful, so began the culinary orgy of flavours; this can only be described as OMG!
Following this feast, I managed to strike up the courage to go for dessert as well. The thought of leaving without allowing my taste buds the pleasure; would have been a crime. Therefore, I opted for the calorie busting chocolate praline and hazelnut marquise. I can only correlate this to being a small child and the amazement of Christmas day! Not only was the dessert a delight to behold, but the flavours danced on my tongue like a scene from Michael Flatley’s River dance.
All in all, probably the best meal I have experienced outside of a Michelin star restaurant; which if you are reading this Mr Michelin is deserving. The menu as previous stated is extensive, without being overwhelming, and dare I say it is; possibly under-priced! The service was exceptional, with all staff members being attentive to our every need.
There is a stunning restaurant inside with tasteful decor, however we took full advantage of the incredible weather and chose to dine outside by the riverside.
Rowing boats at Dedham Boathouse Restaurant
To make the day even more memorable, we hired a row boat, the cost for calorie burning, laughter packed 90 minutes was a mere £24. Our boat was named Vic1 and performed well for myself, however for Julia it behaved like a Labrador puppy: badly.
We took a few cheeky beverages for the journey, and fully enjoyed the experience. Not only was the 90 minutes like a full body workout, it was packed with a wide variety of wildlife; from swarms of dragonflies to thirsty cows taking in their morning refreshment before milking; and adorable ducklings.
All in all I can recommend Dedham to the individual seeking a delightful stroll, the couple’s wanting romance and fine dining; to families accompanied by man’s best friend.
Journey time from Chelmsford was 40 minutes, with Colchester and Clacton within easy reach in under 15 minutes. Dedham is accessed via the A12, however when you arrive; this is easily forgotten due to the stunning scenery and the noises of nature and laughter, well at least in my boat anyway.
Guest blog written by Lee – my super talented driving instructor – who definitely needs to set up his own blog after this! Wouldn’t you agree?