The Rose & Crown, Wivenhoe | Riverside Pub Near Colchester With A Hearty Menu

Wivenhoe near Colchester is a lovely place to visit – quiet and quaint, it offers beautiful natural views of the river Colne and those lovely English streets that non-Brits always go on about. It’s the sort of place I go for a pint when I’m looking to get away from the seaside vibe of Walton and the busy atmosphere of Colchester, so getting to test out a new pub in the area was something I was really looking forward to.

The Rose And Crown pub, Wivenhoe, title image

The Vibe

Pint of ale at the Rose and Crown pub in Wivenhoe
A much-needed pint

The Rose And Crown is perfectly situated on the edge of the river Colne making it the ultimate Wivenhoe location for a relaxing drink – to the right you can see Rowhedge, and to the left the open space of the river with plenty of boats navigating the route. There’s actually more seating outside than in which I appreciated – although we ate inside due to the weather, it’s nice to know that getting a seat outdoors isn’t going to be a momentous task, which it can be in more crowded locations. Sitting out there I felt relaxed – the lapping on the river water against the nearby boats, the soft crunch of gravel under the feet of local dog walkers… It was a lovely experience.

Inside was also nice – some British pubs have an issue with being “too local” (if you’re not from the area you’ll get stared down as soon as you walk in the door) but it wasn’t like that here, and we felt welcome as soon as we walked in. I liked the cosy décor and appreciated the sign above the bar that read “Wivenhoe: A small drinking village with a fishing problem”.

The Food

Our visit was right before I was due to go live on Writer’s Block with Sarah Banham and Colne Radio so we went for the classic sandwich and a pint option, keen not to overrun. We were told at the time of order that we’d be waiting over an hour for food however this didn’t end up being the case, and we received our food within half an hour of ordering. The Rose and Crown have a special menu where you can get a sandwich, side, and a drink for £7.99 as a sort of meal deal, so we all went for that. The deal was quite flexible with the ability to add different things in and pay a little bit extra. I decided to go for the grilled halloumi with roasted vegetables and a side of chips with a pint of ale, with my partner Paul opting for the rump steak melt with chilli cheese fries (at an extra cost) and a cappuccino. Paul’s Mum went for the cod goujons sandwich with chips and a cider, and Paul’s Dad also went for the steak but with standard chips and a pint.

In general the food was very good quality – my halloumi sandwich was flavoursome and I couldn’t get over the chips which were that lovely, thick homecooked style. Paul’s chilli fries were thin cut instead, but the chilli gave them a real kick. Both the steak sandwich and cod goujon sandwich were very good quality as well, although Paul did say the steak sandwich ended up a bit messy due to the meat juices getting everywhere and the bread not quite holding it all in. Drinks were all great as well, with a good selection of lagers and ales on tap. It’s standard Greene King food, but it was cooked well and was as filling as a main meal.

Vegan apple pie and chocolate sundae at The Rose and Crown pub in Wivenhoe
Vegan apple pie served with ice cream, and chocolate sundae

After we’d eaten our sandwiches we realised we were doing well for time so decided to try out the dessert menu. Paul’s Mum went for the vegan apple pie and ice cream which she absolutely loved – apparently as good as the real thing! I shared a chocolate ice cream sundae with Paul which featured vanilla ice cream, brownie pieces, and chocolate sauce. It was sickly sweet but in a very good way and left me feeling full but not ill.

The service was generally positive throughout – there was a mix-up with our plates not being taken away but staff were apologetic about this and it didn’t affect our meal in anyway. Even though we’d gone in at a crazy busy time staff were still friendly (if a little flustered from all the business!) and I certainly don’t have any complaints. The place was very clean as you’d expect so no issues there.

The Extras

We didn’t get to experience anything extra that The Rose And Crown has to offer but I did notice that they host different themed nights each week, one of which being a vintage games night which sounded great! There was a whole shelf full of board games so I liked that they were there for those that want it. I forget what the other nights were but I remember there being a nice range of activities that suited the Wivenhoe vibe well.

We all agreed at the end of the evening that we’d had a good experience at The Rose And Crown in Wivenhoe and would consider going back if we were in the area and fancied a pint on the river. On a warm and sunny evening in the summer I bet it’s just wonderful.

If you enjoyed this review then please don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can read my other recent British restaurant reviews here:

Hare & Hounds, East Bergholt | Wagamama, Colchester

Pinterest image for the Rose And Crown pub in Wivenhoe

Afternoon Tea At Patisserie Valerie, Colchester | Lovingly Crafted Continental Delights

Patisserie Valerie, known for its afternoon tea, is a chain café across the UK which offers a lovely selection of sandwiches, cakes, coffees, and more. Although unfortunately a few of the cafés have shut down recently there’s still plenty of them around, and you’ll most likely have one close to you if you live in or near a large town or city.

Patisserie Valerie, Colchester - afternoon tea title image

I’ve visited Patisserie Valerie numerous times before with my partner for a lunchtime bite to eat, but this time I decided to take my Mum there for afternoon tea – a birthday gift I got her last year! As always it took us ages to actually settle on a date and get around to it but both of us were really glad that we did.

The Vibe

The premises of Patisserie Valerie will be slightly different depending on which one you visit, but the one in Colchester is of a reasonable size with plenty of space. It’s very popular so for this trip we made sure to get there at around 12pm so there would definitely be seats – I’ve been turned away more than once in the past because it’s been so busy! The place consists of lots of tables, mostly for 2-4 people, with the counter and kitchen at the back.

There’s always been a nice vibe when we’ve visited and this trip was no different, with positive chatter in the background that wasn’t too loud. I like the decor of the place which has a great theme of French posters and images, and it’s the right sort of setting where you can easily hold a conversation while you eat and also chill out a bit.

The Food

The whole spread of food from the afternoon tea in Patisserie Valerie in Colchester including sandwiches, quiches, scones, and cakes
The afternoon tea spread, including three ‘courses’ plus drinks

As this trip was for afternoon tea the menu was set, including sandwiches, cakes, scones, and tea or coffee for £25 between two. I felt this was very reasonable considering what we got – such a lovely range of food and so filling! I didn’t need to eat for hours afterwards so I’d recommend being quite hungry before you try it.

The three-tiered plate that came out was a lovely way to present the food, and we started at the bottom and worked our way up. The first plate had a selection of finger sandwiches – egg mayo, cucumber, ham, salmon with cream cheese, and chicken pesto with sunblazed tomatoes, alongside a mini quiche each. I remember thinking at first that that wasn’t enough between two but I was very wrong!

The second plate was the scones – we got two each (one fruit and one plain), with strawberry jam, raspberry jam, clotted cream, and butter to top them with. Scones are one of my favourite things about Britain so I absolutely loved this part. The third and final plate was my favourite though – a selection of beautifully crafted cake slices consisting of a Victoria sponge, two chocolate eclairs, carrot and walnut cake, double chocolate mousse slice, and mixed berry mousse slice. I liked all of them but both Mum and I agreed that the berry mousse slice was the best – so pretty to look at and a wonderfully vibrant flavour. I was so full by this point but determined to try every part! We had to cut some pieces in half so we were able to both try everything, but this was relatively easy to do without it going everywhere (as I’d invisaged).

The tea and coffee was also lovely – Mum went for a simple Americano which she enjoyed (and there was a lot of it), and I went for an Earl Grey, managing to get four small cups out of the teapot! It felt like a lot more tea than you’d usually get in a café so well worth the price, and helped to keep me awake after gorging on so much food!

The Extras

As well as afternoon tea and eating inside the café, Patisserie Valerie also sell a variety of their cakes and tarts to take home – these can be bought individually or they offer several giant slices at £11 for four, which can be chosen in store or ordered beforehand. You can also order whole cakes from them which you can design online using their Create A Cake option (which is actually quite fun). Their cakes are stunning and I’d definitely buy from them if I was looking to order a selection.

It’s safe to say that we were both really impressed with Patisserie Valerie, and would 100% go back there again either for afternoon tea or just a standard lunch. We loved how extravagant and refined we felt eating their food, and the overall experience was friendly and positive. If you have one near you then you’d be crazy not to try it out!

If you enjoyed this review then please don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can read my other recent British café reviews here:

Odell’s Coffee Shop, Rochford | Biddy’s Tea Room, Norwich

Pinterest image for afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie, Colchester

LEON | Budget-Friendly Airport Cuisine With A Twist

Extras soon rack up the price of a holiday, and having to spend all that extra cash can be frustrating. It’s easy to end up spending way more than you want to in the airport when it comes to food, but that’s where budget-friendly restaurant Leon at Stansted Airport comes in.

LEON Stansted Airport title image

Given that our holiday to Fuerteventura was a budget one, we wanted our airport breakfast to be budget too. I’d almost lost faith after seeing another certain restaurant at Stansted Airport serving club sandwiches for £12.99 each… Until we came across LEON, with its brightly-lit logo and decorative charm.

LEON promises fast-food with bold flavours and natural goodness. As we were eating at the wonderful time of 5am we went for products on the breakfast menu, however they also serve hot lunch boxes, wraps, salads, and burgers from 11am, all with a Mediterranean twist. The breakfast menu is fairly varied and you can choose between muffins, poached eggs, porridge, and Greek yoghurt, or simply a dose of caffeine if you’re not all that hungry.

LEON, Stansted Airport - breakfast pot with egg, sausage, bacon, and beans
The humble breakfast pot – small, but filling

I was completely swayed by the poached eggs so had to go for this option, opting for the English breakfast poached egg. It contained the egg at the bottom plus sausage, bacon, and haricot beans, which were much more like the homemade variety than what you might get in a can of Heinz. The breakfast was served in a cute little pot – it was a small serving but I was expecting that at just £3.95 – and it really blended the flavours together well.

My partner decided to try out one of the breakfast muffins, and was able to have a special request of bacon and sausage together (the menu allows for either one meat, or combined with an egg). Again the portion was small, but it was again only £3.95 which is very good value compared to other restaurants within Stansted Airport! Like the breakfast pot, the muffin was full of flavour, and contained a beautiful Mediterranean sauce that I would never have considered to mix with breakfast items, yet it worked even better than your standard ketchup and added a slight zing.

LEON breakfast tray with breakfast pot, bacon and sausage muffin, and flat white coffee
Our full order costing just £10.50 (complete with brightly coloured tray)

As well as the food I really appreciated the decor of LEON, which was warmly lit and featured lots of vintage photographs on the wall. It was colourful but tasteful – not too vibrant for 5.30am but enough to make you feel excited about eating there. Generally it was quite spacious and the seating was very suitable for a fast-food location. Ordering the food was easy and the whole process from ordering to sitting down and eating took minutes.

Flat white coffee with LEON restaurant decor in background
A well-lit and positive atmosphere, great for enjoying a coffee pre-flight

I was impressed by the focus on eco-friendly products with LEON – all of the packaging used within our food was recyclable which is rare in the food world. They claim that their food is all natural and, while I can’t confirm that, it tasted a lot healthier than other fast food I’ve had before and I didn’t come away feeling bloated and over-full like I might do at McDonald’s or KFC, for instance.

I’d be happy to eat at LEON next time I’m at Stansted Airport as it didn’t break the bank yet served food that tasted great and kept me full for my flight. While it might not be best-suited for those who want a full sit-down meal, LEON is perfect for travellers that need something fast, budget, and above all full of flavour.

If you liked this review then don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can also check out my other recent eatery reviews here:

Hare & Hounds | Wagamama | Odell’s Coffee Shop

LEON, Stansted Airport, Pinterest image

Hare And Hounds – East Bergholt

England is a great place for a variety of different food options, but one I’ll never get bored of is the traditional British pub. Pubs are ingrained into our culture, and there’s nothing quite like sitting in a beer garden on a sunny afternoon, eating cosy food and watching the world go by.

Hare And Hounds East Bergholt Title Image

After a busy morning at Hollow Trees Farm during half-term week I was treated to a pub lunch at Hare And Hounds in East Bergholt, a beautiful village over the county border but still not far from me. There are several pubs in the village but we were drawn to this one for its large open garden and traditional feel. Also we were starving, and that will always be fixed when you’re dining in a pub!

Pint of Woodford's Wherry amber ale at Hare And Hounds in East Bergholt
Woodforde’s Wherry ale

Hare And Hounds offers a good range of beers and ales and a rather large food menu – it took us so long to order because of the amount of choice! There was lots of traditional British pub food but also other cuisines such as Italian and Indian. Lighter meals are available such as sandwiches but also full meals and desserts,all at reasonable prices. I was initially stuck on which ale to go for so the woman serving gave me generous tasters of each so I could choose which was a great gesture, and one that I haven’t experienced in many places before. In the end I went for Woodforde’s Wherry, a zesty amber ale that turned out to be an excellent choice.

For the main meal there were six of us and we ordered a range of different things – three Hunter’s chicken burgers and chips, lasagne, sausage and chips for the child, and I went for the seafood platter. The children’s menu was good and incorporated several child-friendly dishes, each served with chips and onion rings in a basket and a good portion size. The food we received was great as well – the lasagne in particular was beautifully presented, and adult portion sizes were perfect for those wanting a hearty meal to devour.

The seafood platter I ordered consisted of four varieties of seafood – whitefish, squid, prawns, and scallops – each deep fried and served with chips, peas, and salad. I’d actually gone for the seafood platter thinking it was the lighter option but luckily I’d become hungrier by the time it arrived as it was huge! It was really good though – the seafood was full of flavour and the chips were beautifully made. I’d order it again if I went back, and I was also quite enticed by the Hunter’s chicken burgers that the rest of my family ordered, who all said they really enjoyed the meal.

Deep fried seafood platter at Hare And Hounds in East Bergholt
The seafood platter I was served – I’m surprised I ate it all as there was so much!

That day just happened to be the hottest day of the year so far so we decided to eat our meal in the garden, which was lovely. Inside looked like a nice space to dine as well but it was quite small and already fairly full. Sitting outside was wonderful though – the pub has seating both in the shade and in the sun and there’s plenty of benches which are nicely spread out to avoid overcrowding. There wasn’t a play area but the stepdaughter was entertained enough playing It with such a large space to run around in, and for the adults there was a pool table inside for entertainment. Facilities were generally very well-kept and I liked the bathroom décor in particular which was much more modern than I was expecting (if you’ve been to a lot of traditional British pubs then you’ll understand why).

I found dining at Hare And Hounds a really good visit overall and have no complaints – the staff were really friendly and there was a lovely atmosphere inside, with locals chipping into our conversation as well. I’d gladly go back, and I’d love to experience the pub as a drinking-focused location as well as eating as they had a good alcohol selection and I’d like to try a few more of their ales. If you’re in Suffolk and looking for somewhere to eat then I’d recommend you consider Hare And Hounds – there was no need to book and the experience was completely stress-free, making it the perfect bank holiday or summer afternoon treat.

If you liked this review then don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can also check out my other recent eatery reviews here:

Wagamama, Colchester

Odell’s Coffee Shop, Rochford

Biddy’s Tea Room, Norwich

Wagamama – Colchester

Most of us in the UK have probably either heard of Wagamama or visited, and Colchester has finally got on board and introduced a Wagamama to their ever-expanding range of restaurants and eateries. Situated at the top of the High Street, this is a great place to go for Asian cuisine.

(Image from Food Service Equipment Journal)

I’m usually more of a fan of small business local restaurants, however Wagamama is one chain restaurant I’m always happy to go back to. I’ve never had a bad experience so far, and Colchester’s new restaurant proved to be the best experience yet. Although I wouldn’t class their food as completely authentic Japanese (as many Westernised chain restaurants aren’t) they still have a wonderful variety of food and a signature style to the dishes they make.

I’m one of those awkward people who has an allergy – I’m allergic to real chillies (most likely the seeds). It’s not life-threatening but eating chillies causes me a lot of stomach pain and nausea and my throat starts to close up, so I try to avoid them where possible. I was really worried about this particular Wagamama visit as I actually haven’t been to the restaurant since my allergy developed, and being Japanese cuisine I imagined chillies would be quite a feature, which I certainly wasn’t wrong about.

Teriyaki soba noodles with salmon at Wagamama in Colchester
Teriyaki soba noodles with salmon and a variety of Asian vegetables

As soon as I’d announced my allergy I was put in the capable hands of the store manager, who took the time to go through the entire menu with me and tell me what I would be able to eat. She allowed adjustments to my food and I was able to eat exactly what I wanted, just without the chilli-based sauce added to it, which was the teriyaki soba with salmon. I try to eat as much fish as possible when out as the man isn’t into it, and this particular dish was lovely and quite an unusual way for me to eat fish. Even without the sauce it tasted great!

Before this of course we had starters, and I was recommended the chilli-free duck wraps in lettuce rather than pancake. I thought it wouldn’t be too filling but it really was, yet felt so healthy at the same time! The duck was cooked to perfection and the lettuce swap made them so fresh and easy to eat (for my stomach – not so much for my hands).

As for the types of food served there I found there was quite a variation of different dishes to be had. There are plenty of different types of noodle and rice dishes and you can also get curries, salands, and ramen with various ingredients and toppings. I was quite fascinated with the tea-stained egg which my partner had as part of his steak bulgogi, also featuring soba noodles and fried aubergine. Wagamama has menus for both vegetarians and vegans as well as children and are happy to accommodate all guests, as proven by my experience there.

Jinzu fever gin from Wagamama in Colchester
Such a pretty gin, but it didn’t last long

The drink selection is really good with a wide variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. They have a really good range of juices which you won’t find in many other restaurants so these are worth ordering. Being a gin lover I had to go for their signature Japanese-inspired gin known as Jinzu Fever, which is infused with cherry blossom, yuzu, and sake. It’s decorated with lemon and pink peppercorns and looks super pretty, but don’t accidentally drink them or you’ll be in for a mouthful of flavour you perhaps weren’t looking for!

We couldn’t fit in desserts afterwards because we were absolutely stuffed, but their dessert menu looks divine and I’ll certainly be going back again to try it out. Instead we finished off our meal with green tea to cleanse the palate, which came in a beautiful ceramic cup without a handle. This was a lovely way to end the meal and made me feel calm and balanced after such a gorge-fest!

As you can probably guess I wholeheartedly recommend Wagamama as a positive chain restaurant experience, and they are especially welcoming if you suffer from allergies. They have a quality range of food and it’s easy to find something for everyone, so certainly worth a visit to the new store if you’re in Colchester!

Have you visited Wagamama before? How was your experience? If you enjoyed my review then please click like and leave a comment!

Odell’s Coffee Shop, Rochford

Rochford is a quaint little town situated in Essex, not too far from Southend. During my first visit I noticed that, although there isn’t loads of stuff to do there, what Rochford does have it does very well. The town is compact, but filled with very British streets and loads of local businesses. One example of these is a wonderful little coffee shop I got to visit for lunch – Odell’s Coffee Shop.

Odell’s Coffee Shop is marked on Trip Advisor as one of the best coffee shops in the area so I just had to try it out. I decided to sit outside for my visit as it just so happened to be the warmest day of February – the outside tables are very close to the road, but it wasn’t massively busy so this wasn’t issue. The street is shady in the morning and in the sun for the afternoon so bear this in mind if you prefer to sit outside. I discovered quite quickly that Odell’s is very popular with the locals, so I’d advise getting there early. Once it got to around half 12 people were unable to eat there due to the volume of people (the coffee shop is quite cosy inside).

Photo of a panini, crisps, and side salad from Odell's Coffee Shop in Rochford
One of the tastiest flavour combinations I’ve had in a panini for a while

Odell’s menu isn’t available online so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they provide a good variety of different food from lunch items such as paninis and sandwiches to a rather hearty all day breakfast (which people have only said good things about online!). I decided to opt for the Odell’s Special panini for £4.90, which contained chicken, salami, mozzarella, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, rocket, and pesto. It came served with crisps and salad and was really enjoyable – the bread was good quality, the combination of flavours was lovely, and there was loads of mozzarella which is particularly important to me!

I had the panini alongside a small cappuccino which cost £1.90 and a large slice of chocolate cake for £2.95. I thought the cake was slightly expensive but this seems to be a common theme in England, with most cake slices costing around the same amount – the rest of the meal was very reasonable and the entire thing came to under a tenner which was great considering how full I was. I really enjoyed the coffee too, and it was the perfect strength.

A slice of chocolate cake in front of a cappuccino from Odell's Coffee Shop in Rochford
The chocolate cake I probably didn’t need (but gorged on anyway)

As well as the food I also really liked the general vibe of Odell’s Coffee Shop – it’s your typical British café, but somewhat more refined in its decor and ambience. Inside the café you can see exposed beams and brick wall features which looks great, and outside was quite cute as well with the tables set between brick pillars. The homely crockery was also a nice touch.

Photo of cappuccino from Odell's Coffee Shop
My cappuccino, complete with cute crockery pattern

I did find the waiting times to be quite long, but as mentioned before I probably chose one of the busiest times to visit so I forgive them for that! In a way it was nice to slow down for the day, and it gave me time to reflect and just enjoy the moment. There wasn’t any WiFi available either so this is something to take note of if you’re in the area and need to be connected, but for me it added to my relaxation as I was disconnected from the stresses around me.

I really enjoyed my visit to Odell’s Coffee Shop and if I visit the area again I think I’ll make a point of going back – I’ve got to try out that all day breakfast! As well as great food the staff were also really lovely and easy to talk to, which added to the overall experience. For anyone planning on visiting Rochford in the near future – definitely make this one of your stops.

Biddy’s Tea Room, Norwich | The Best Place For Afternoon Tea

Norwich is a wonderful city, full of quirky and original experiences. One such place is Biddy’s Tea Room on Lower Goat Lane, rated as the one of the best cafés in the city centre. It’s so popular, in fact, that when I went at lunchtime I ended up being turned away as it was completely full, however just walking inside told me that it would be worth the wait, and when I went back just after 2pm I managed to get a seat (one of only a couple available, mind).

Title image of Biddy's Tea Room

Biddy’s Tea Room is the type of café one might describe as quaint, with cosy decor including bookshelves and various artwork on the walls, and the cutest tables made out of chests. The premises consists of two floors – I didn’t see the top floor, but tables here can be booked out due to the café’s busy nature, and the ground floor consists of several rooms and the main food area. They have different menus for different times of day, with a wide range of options to please every visitor.

Tea served at Biddy's Tea Room

One of these menus is particularly special – their tea menu. Biddy’s Tea Room don’t just offer the regular coffees and teas, but also their own unique tea blends which sound just fantastic. Whilst there I tried out the Russian Caravan, a blend of Ceylon and Lapsang, which was as wonderful as it sounds. The tea arrived in a gorgeous dark green teapot alongside a porcelain teacup and saucer, and the menu was quite useful in that it explained what made up each tea and how long it should steep for. There were also plenty of caffeine-free options.

Lunch served at Biddy's Tea Room

Onto the food… All I can say is wow. Due to the time of day I decided to opt for something a bit lighter for my lunch with a dessert alongside it, yet I was still stuffed by the end of it! I had to eat it all though as the tastes were so beautiful. For my main lunch course I opted for a latticed pork sausage, apple, and sage sausage roll – an exquisite blend of flavours. It almost looked too good to ear, but I’m glad I did! The sausage roll slice was served with a side of coleslaw and dressed salad, and as well as filling it felt healthy.

Dessert served at Biddy's Tea Room

I went for a rather decadent dessert after a recommendation from staff – a banana, caramel, peanut, and chocolate truffle. I probably didn’t need it given how filling lunch was, but the richness and sweetness of the dessert was well worth it. It was also beautifully presented, and something I’d definitely order again.

I don’t have anything but positive words for Biddy’s Tea Room – the environment was cosy and relaxing, the staff were brilliant and more than helpful, and of course the food was gorgeous. The only downside is it’s not right next to my house! I know for sure that if I go back to Norwich I’ll just have to visit the café again, and I strongly recommend you do as well.

Have you had a great experience in Norwich before? Please let me know if you enjoyed my review by liking my post and leaving a comment!