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Church Street Tavern

3 Church Street, Colchester, United Kingdom, CO1 1NF
Critics Review 4/5
Restaurant info
Opening Information

Opening Hours:

Bar
Wednesday-Thursday 11am-11pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-12am
Sunday 11am-5pm

Kitchen
Lunch
Wednesday-Friday 12-2.30pm
Saturday-Sunday 12-3pm
Dinner
Wednesday-Thursday 5.30pm-9.30pm
Friday-Saturday 5.30pm-10pm

Facilities
  • Disabled Access
  • Private Dining
  • Families and Children Welcome
  • Gluten Free Available
  • Business Lunch
  • Outside Seating Area
  • Free WiFi

About Church Street Tavern

A great place to meet up, have fun and be well looked after. Ground floor bar serving craft beer, eclectic wine, cocktails, tea and coffee. First flour restaurant serving seasonal food from an ever changing menu. Quick light lunches, rare breed steak, private dining and events.

Cuisine: British, Afternoon Tea, Sunday Lunch
Dress Code: Casual,Smart Casual

Availability

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Critics Review
Review by Tracey Macleod for Independent
4/5
When is a pub not a pub? Last week, I had two very different lunch experiences, at opposite ends of the spectrum of modern pubbery. The first was in a new place in London's West End – I won't name it, because I'm a kind person. An ordinary little pub, stripped of any last vestige of comfort or conviviality, and now operating as a kushiyaki bar. You know, a kushiyaki bar? Like in Japan, where they serve skewers of grilled meat to salarymen on the lash. Only this was about as Japanese as pork scratchings; a dismal shell of a room combining the worst aspects of old-man's pub and chilly Japanese café, where I perched on a tall stool to eat nondescript bits of grilled and deep-fried flesh, and – God help me – tempura avocado. In its striving, on-trend way, it was every bit as grim and unforgiving as city-centre pubs used to be, before they invented the gastropub and we could all sit with a fish pie and a glass of merlot. So that's one direction a pub can go in, and good luck to them: A3 licences in the overheated London market are hard to come by, and there are shoals of ambitious young chefs eager to go it alone and do unforgivable things to avocados. Another new direction is to style yourself a 'tavern'; not in the old sense of a roadhouse serving foaming tankards and beef to trenchermen, but in the modern sense, which is basically 'restaurant'. That's how they've done it at the Church Street Tavern in Colchester, an Essex town which has yet to challenge Ludlow in the gastronomic stakes. Now this is a pub to spend some time in. A handsome, big-boned townhouse just off the main shopping drag which combines the warmth and hospitality of the traditional tavern with the serious cooking chops of the Tavern 2.0. Arriving late and discombobulated for a mid-week lunch, after an unfortunate misunderstanding about a disabled parking permit, my mother and I were welcomed, and – in a sun-filled, spacious upstairs dining room beautifully decorated with objets trouvé and groovy – very well fed. Tiny spoonfuls of chicken liver parfait arrived unannounced with springy herb bread. Then a shivery, irresistible pot of parmesan custard, to be scooped up with delicate wands of anchovy toast. Chickpea fritters appeared as a ladies-who-lunch take on falafel, with pomegranate-sprinkled whipped ricotta standing in for hummus, and some kind of grassy oil to be mopped up with the crisp, spinachy puffs. The menu is huge, and apart from the safe haven of various cuts of steak, ambitious. A brace of Norfolk quail get the dirty treatment, exuberantly spiced, spatchcocked and chargrilled, leaving the skin deeply flavoured with salt and smoke, the flesh sweetly pink. With them, nutty, veg-studded pearl barley and a sultry blast of black cabbage and hazelnut pesto. Partnering subtle skate with equally soft and pale gnocchi was brave, but the dish was hot-wired by purple sprouting broccoli humming with tarragon and punchy little brown shrimps. Only my starter of rabbit pie flopped; sweetly spiced like Moroccan pastilla, it was swaddled in an over-dense pastry which temporarily silenced my half of the debate about the missing parking permit. A side of Jansson's temptation, an anchovy-kissed swoon of potato, cream, cheese and garlic, reconciled my mother to a dish she had spurned since the early Sixties, when a Swedish friend's dinner party went horribly wrong. The short selection of puddings includes rhubarb and custard with orange and polenta shortcake, a dish which perfectly reflects the CST's brand of trad comfort with a twist. Bravo to whoever designed this dream of confident good taste, the sober scheme of wood floors, leather banquettes and foxed mirrors quirked up with sculptural driftwood and flurries of vintage china. The lounge bar downstairs, where every seat is a deep armchair or sofa, rather than a bony high stool, is equally beguiling. This is a place put together by someone who knows exactly what they're doing. That someone is Piers Baker, whose Sun Inn in the Essex village of Dedham I enthused about when it opened 11 years ago. "The instinct for hospitality behind the Sun is positively Continental," I wrote then. "Everything's just a little bit better than it needs to be." The same is true, in spades, of the Tavern, which Baker opened a year ago, installing a young team from the Sun, including head chef Ewan Naylon. Despite appearances, the building was converted from an estate agents rather than an existing hostelry. Which goes to show that while it's all too easy to convert a pub into something dreary, it takes time, good taste and talent to make a dreary building into a wonderful pub.
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Visited On Thursday, 09 August 2018

My new favourite place to either just have a drink or have dinner in Colchester. Such a lovely friendly atmosphere, coupled with great food, drink and service.

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Visited On Saturday, 04 August 2018

The decor doesn’t seem as if it has a theme, quite a mixture of styles - I preferred it’s former more modern but restrained style. My trout was a huge portion therefore not surprisingly undercooked in the thickest part, and I think the courgette soup would have been better without the additional pieces of courgette. The others really enjoyed their choices, a very pleasant evening.

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Visited On Friday, 03 August 2018

Our first visit and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. What fab food, ambience, surroundings and service. We will definitely be back. Colchester has been a culinary desert for years, but not anymore. Thank you..

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Visited On Saturday, 28 July 2018

Staff very friendly and helpful! We will definitely come back again!

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Visited On Saturday, 28 July 2018

Hands down the best restaurant in the area. Never anything but exceptional food, friendly and prompt service and a unique, relaxing atmosphere.

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Visited On Saturday, 28 July 2018

We felt very welcome and the level of attention was high. We were pleased to be there early as it was getting very busy by the time we left. Food was lovely and the home made ice cream was superb! We will be back!

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Visited On Thursday, 26 July 2018

Fantastic food in a really lovely restaurant. Would highly recommend

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Visited On Thursday, 26 July 2018

Great evening. Food was fabulous and absolutely loved the cocktails. The post dinner Manhattan was great!

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Visited On Friday, 20 July 2018

Absolutely amazing food and great service from staff. Would highly recommend to friends. Matt was really helpful with the reservation.

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Visited On Friday, 20 July 2018

Great steak. Great wine

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Visited On Friday, 20 July 2018

Perfect spot just away from the main road. Came early and had a gin and tonic before being seated. Barman was a bit abrupt however didn’t let it offend us. Dining area is lovely, great atmosphere and staff very attentive. I had the cuttlefish starter which was incredible. I need the crab mayonnaise recipe! My partner is vegan so had corvette soup which was lovely. For mains the sea trout was cooked to perfection and samphire was to die for. Vegan main wasn’t too great though. Aubergine was really tasty and flatbread was good however no almonds found and pickled onion/cabbage on top was too much and overpowering taking away flavours from the rest of the dish. Overall food was of a very high quality though. Little hidden gem of Colchester

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Visited On Thursday, 19 July 2018

Already recommended to a friend! Staff were incredibly accommodating and kind.

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Visited On Thursday, 21 June 2018

Really accommodating. Great food and no waiting around. Perfect! Thank you.

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Visited On Sunday, 17 June 2018

Great food & service as always.

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Visited On Thursday, 14 June 2018

Good service. Even bothered to contact me about a change in facilities. Care about their customers. Excellent. Try the Jansons Temptation! What a find on the menu

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Visited On Saturday, 16 June 2018

Great early evening family get-together. Food was delicious - clean plates by all! Jannsons Temptation was a clear favourite side. Coffee with petit fours also went down well :)

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Visited On Saturday, 16 June 2018

great food on the first floor, exceptional value for the quality.

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Visited On Friday, 08 June 2018

really helpful staff - helped me out with making my meal special

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Visited On Saturday, 09 June 2018

Pleasant environment, knowledgeable, friendly and efficient staff and well cooked and presented light food before a trip to The Mercury Theatre. Second visit and would gladly go again.

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Visited On Saturday, 09 June 2018

We went for a celebration dinner and as always were not disappointed. Relaxed atmosphere and great food

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Visited On Saturday, 09 June 2018

Very nice evening service good yet a little slow.

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Visited On Thursday, 31 May 2018

Love everything about this place - the décor, the staff, the food - always spot on.

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Visited On Saturday, 02 June 2018

Pleasant surroundings & food

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Visited On Friday, 01 June 2018

Lovely place, great food, service and atmosphere

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Visited On Friday, 01 June 2018

Had a lovely meal upstairs - steak as per usual and it was lovely. The place is full of chatter yet never seems loud which is great for when eating dinner.

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