A birthday treat for me was a visit to The Cricketers in Clavering. This is famous for being owned by Jamie Oliver’s parents. We had been looking forward to it for months and after several recommendations from colleagues I was anticipating a great night.
The hotel room was simplistically luxurious; a four poster bed draped with purple silk had me from the minute we walked into the room! Having watched too many Hotel Inspectors on the TV, I have become a hotel critic and feel myself doing the checks just like Ruth Watson or Alex Pollizi, but could not find anything to moan about!
Of course, the whole point of this visit was to sample the food. We had booked a table in the restaurant and ate off the set priced three course menu; you can also eat in the bar from the same menu and pay for dishes individually. The set price of just under £30 was good value.
Unfortunately, we were left a little underwhelmed. Or we could have just had very high expectations.
The service seemed almost haphazard; there did not seem to be one particular waitress assigned to our table, I think we counted at least 5 different people who approached the table. I am not saying there is something wrong with this but didn’t seem like a personal service. It was also a little on the rushed side at the beginning of the meal, something that worried us as we knew there was nowhere else to go after the meal and it was looking like we were going to be finished very early! However, it went to the other extreme after the main course and we were actually forgotten about for 40 minutes or so! We were finally remembered and the dessert menus brought over.
Anyway back to the food. A delicious basket of home made bread, including a sun dried tomato focaccia was left for us to nibble on during the 5 minutes we had to wait for our starters. Hubby enjoyed a minestrone soup while I tucked into the best part of the meal, a homemade spaghetti with crab and chilli. The pasta was cooked to perfection, al dente and was very obviously home made. The simple crab, chilli and tomato sauce was just enough to coat the pasta and made me want more!
Both of us went for something from the daily fish specials- I had turbot with prawns, chard and a ginger sauce, hubby had Baked Cod with Saute Potatoes and Red Onions. Mine had the option of new potatoes and homeade chips; I went for the potatoes which were tasty but I did covet the chips when I saw them on another table! I also chose a rocket and parmesan side salad while hubby went for the seasonal veg (according to the menu, these came from Jamie’s garden!); the sides were done well but were nothing fabulous. The fish was tasty and worked well with the chard and the prawns. I was a little wary of the ginger sauce; there was a lot of it and it had quite a custardy consistency. Hubby enjoyed his cod and saute potatoes- almost a posh and healthy fish and chips!
The dessert menu didn’t excite us too much, I had caramelised peaches with mascarpone which lacked flavour. Hubby had a pecan and pear pavlova. The pecans were yummy and worked well with my caramelised peaches! I ended up with them all as hubby doesn’t like them! The meringue was beautifully done.
We were left to sit on our table and finish our drinks and do my favourite thing-people watch! There were quite a few big parties in and I would definitely recommend for a special celebration.
After a good night’s sleep, we were looking forward to breakfast (again feeling like the hotel inspector!) The service picked up and was a definite improvement on the night before. Mr Oliver Senior served us, along with another friendly waiter. The usual tea, coffee and juice were served along with a fresh yoghurt and fruit compote which was virtuously healthy! Then we were offered a choice of a full English breakfast, smoked haddock, a variety of eggs or fruit salad. Hubby had the full English which comprised of poached egg and bacon served with a bowl which included a meaty sausage (0ne of the best hubby has ever had), tomato, mushroom and saute potatoes. Hubby enjoyed the quality of it but would have liked more! I went for the smoked haddock and poached egg which was simply done and enjoyed with lots of warm buttered toast.
Overall, it was a pleasant weekend break away and if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life I would recommend it for a quiet place to relax and enjoy some good home cooked style food.