Advantages Modern, excellent food, great service
Disadvantages They don't take bookings and it can get busy
|Value for Money|
|Standard of Menu|
|Standard of Service|
I enjoy going out for business lunches now and again and I am very fortunate because working close to the Essex/Suffolk border there are some very good restaurants in the area which are nicely rural but easily accessed from the office. One of my favourite haunts is Milsom's Restaurant at Dedham.Milsoms Restaturant is within the Milsom's Hotel which is a Victorian country house built in 1850 and bought by Dorothy and Arthur Milsom in 1959. In 1981 their son Gerald Milsom transformed it into the Dedham Vale Hotel and Terrace restaurant. Twenty years later, Geraldine Milsom transformed the building into a stylish bar and brasserie which is very well known in the area for its fine food and informal atmosphere.
It is run by the same people who have The Pier Hotel in Harwich and The Talbooth and the Maison Talbooth also in Dedham. All these venues are renowned for their fine cuisine and Milsoms is no exception.The atmosphere is Milsoms is very relaxed but don't be taken in by this appearance - the staff are well trained and efficient and work hard to ensure that your dining experience is managed well.
Unfortunately you are unable to book tables in Milsoms so you have to take the chance that you can get in. Generally I like to try to arrive as early as I can to ensure we get a place but earlier this week on a wet and rainy Tuesday in February I reasoned that it probably wasn't going to be packed out for a change. I was right, although my companion and I arrived after 1.00pm there were still a few places left so we seated ourselves and looked through the menu provided.Menu choices in Milsoms are wide and varied. The style of cooking at milsoms is described by them as 'global' and their Head Chef, Stas Anastasiades, takes his influences from all around the world. Shortly after the restaurant opened it was awarded an AA rosette for its cooking and I am sure it was well deserved.
The main restaurant decor is modern with stylish wooden furniture simply dressed on natural wooden flooring, the seating is arranged on two levels. The terrace is an extension of the dining area with a huge sail canopy and heaters which gets well used in the Summer months but which no one was braving on this particular February lunchtime! There are also beautiful gardens beyond making for a very pleasant dining experience in wonderful surroundings.They offer an a la carte menu at lunch and dinner times. There are always daily specials available with the chefs taking advantage of local and seasonal produce. Starters included Artisan breads, House made Houmous and taramosalata with warm pitta, shredded duck tacos with hoi sin, cold poached foie gras with cracked pepper and sour cherries and 70s prawn cocktail at prices from £4.25 to £9.25.
There were 22 different options for Main courses including 8 which could be either mains or starters and without listing them all there are traditional English dishes like Mr G's Shepherd's pie or fish and chips, Grilled Aubergine, goat's cheese and sunblushed tomato burger, Gressingham Duck breast with yam crumble and peppercorn sauce, whole roast sea bass with crispy shallots, garlic and chilli - these range from £8.75 to £18.50 giving something to suit all pockets. If you want to see the full list they helpfully have a menu available for download from their website to give a general indication although this does change based on the food available on the day.The nine desserts on offer were tempting and although we had no space for these this week I have tried them before I can vouch for their excellence, my own personal favourite being their banana and passion fruit pavlova.
As I said at the beginning the feel of the restaurant is very relaxed. Each table is provided with a little notepad and pencil and you are invited to either order your food at the bar or to write the details on the notepad and hand it to one of the waiting staff. This works remarkably well, the staff are helpful and efficient and the food is well presented.I have eaten at this restaurant numerous times and never been disappointed. Their menu is available from 12 noon to 9.30pm from Sunday to Thursday and until 10.00pm on Friday and Saturday. In the Summer months it is extremely busy but because they are efficient they generally managed to turn around tables without you feeling too hurried.
For special occasions they have a private dining room which you can book for parties of more than eight people. The library is available for parties of between eight and fourteen people which is ideal for a family get together, celebration or business function. The library is at the front of the house overlooking the gardens. There you will be offered a restricted menu offering a choice of four or five dishes for each course at a set price. I am a member of a local dining club and we booked this for one of our meals and we had an excellent evening with three course meal costing £25 per person (excluding wine).Additionally they have a further room, Mr G's, which has the back drop of Milsoms famous gardens with French doors opening onto a private terrace. This is available for larger parties of between fourteen and twenty four. Here a chef will cook your meal in an independent kitchen adjoining the suite and a dedicated member of staff will be on hand to serve your meal and drinks.
In the main restaurant the younger members of the family haven't been left out at Milsoms as there is a specially designed menu to suit smaller appetites!Overall this is an excellent restaurant in a beautiful area. Within a couple of miles if the main A12 linking Essex and Suffolk it is easily accessible but incredibly tranquil. The food is excellent, the service efficient and the pricing reasonable. I can highly recommend it if you are ever in the area and will happily give it five stars!
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