I must admit I mourned a little when Hudson and Hudson closed its doors. It's understated smart dining, ever-changing seasonal menu and reasonable pricing made it a firm favourite of mine. Fast forward several months later though and I spied something that could refill that gap in Colchester's dining landscape. Grain, a crowdfunded project by a couple of local chefs started popping up over social media and I couldn't help get a spark of excitement for them.
Their ethos seemed to surround everything I love, local and seasonal produce, simple but beautiful dishes and the idea of serving more of a tasting menu rather than the usual three course format. I mainly love this idea of lots of little plates as it means I can be a total pig and try everything!
I finally found the time to try out the restaurant last month and it did not disappoint in the slightest. Our meal began with a lovely bottle of red ordered from an enthusiastic waiter who seemed to love wine as much as I love food and was incredibly helpful. Between ordering our dishes and them being served one of the chefs quietly popped out of the kitchen and presented us with 'something to start us of': a paper bag with two still warm homemade rolls inside accompanied by a hand churned butter made from creme fraiche. It was lovely and a really nice, unexpected touch to start the meal with. When it came to ordering, being a non meat eater I picked all of the 'garden' options -the menu is delightfully divided into 'garden','sea', 'land' and 'sweet'. My dining partner opted for more meat and fish options but both of us eyed each others meals in turn and routinely gave each other that quiet nod you do that signifies what you are eating is really beautiful. I don't think either of us were missing out.
Each dish seemed to be so carefully thought out and each item on the plate felt so special. There is a lot to be said for great ingredients being used skillfully. One of my courses had the most lovely tomatoes on it, just the two in fact, but the way the whole dish was set out meant that was enough. Another lovely thing which pudding enthusiasts may like is the option of having more that one dessert. That's definitely my strategy for our next visit. The plating made everything look picture perfect and while it felt like we were eating delicate morsels the meal was actually very substantial and we both left feeling pretty stuffed.
Overall this venture has lived up to everything I really hoped it would. Grain is somewhere reasonably priced which delivers well thought out meals with sympathetically chosen ingredients. It feels like somewhere really special to visit, which is just what Colchester needs.