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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 9am-11pm
Friday-Saturday 9am-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 Sunday, 17 February 2019

Lovely food could not be faulted. Let down by slow service. We were not approached for a good 15 minutes after we were seated to ask what we wanted to drink. The waiter who served us was continually appologising for keeping us waiting at every stage of the meal. Not his fault I might add but appeared not enough staff.

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Visited On Friday, 08 February 2019

Very enjoyable experience as always

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Visited On Friday, 08 February 2019

The rosewater parfait dessert was literally the best dish i’ve eaten in ages! Everyone else had major food envy. Amazing. Duck egg starter was ok, as was the cod fillet main. Expensive for what you get though and not particularly memorable unlike the dessert. Also Pinot Grigio at £28 per bottle....I’ve tasted better for a fiver at Tesco. I don’t mind paying premium prices if the product is good quality. Service was hit and miss in that staff were busy and not that attentive (it took over 20 mins for us to be asked what we wanted to drink). We kept trying to grab someone’s attention to get the bill which took a while and ended up paying it as we went out for our taxis. That said, all staff were really lovely and friendly at all times.

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Visited On Friday, 08 February 2019

Great

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Visited On Thursday, 07 February 2019

I eat here regularly because I like the place. The food recently was disappointing for the price. The meat was ok but the veg poor. Service is good though. I think there needs to be a review of the menu in terms of their market. If the CST is aiming for the middle market the food has to meet the expectations.

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Visited On Thursday, 31 January 2019

This was a group event for a client of ours and they were very impressed, so much better than previous venues.

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Visited On Friday, 01 February 2019

The built in bench is incredibly uncomfortable, tilting at an awkward angle. The pillows help, but the slant just makes it awkward. And the purple fabric chair covers do not sit well with the other dining chairs. It makes for a disturbing aesthetic. The middle bathroom stall *still* has not had been repaired. There are holes in the wall and a tear in the wallpaper that have been there since at least September 2015, when I first visited the Church Street. Also, there was a really thick residue of build up around the soap in the loo. We waited over 15 minutes for our bill. The two servers were perfectly pleasant but were a bit out of sync. There was a long single brown hair in my mussels. It wasn't mine -- I'm blond. The music was a bit of a jumble -- ranging from uninspired but earwig easy listening to really good ambient jazz. The food was incredible, though, and not far off your sister restaurant in Dedham.

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Visited On Saturday, 26 January 2019

Thank you, fantastic food and excellent service. We will be back.

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Visited On Saturday, 12 January 2019

Group of teenage girls loved their party meal here. Everything was just fab!

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Visited On Sunday, 13 January 2019

Great Sunday roast, atmosphere and service

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Visited On Saturday, 12 January 2019

Had pre-theatre set meal - 2 courses for £15.50 - great value. Decent coffee & v.good service. I would come again.

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Visited On Saturday, 12 January 2019

Cocktails are served downstairs and therefore this impacts on speed of service at the bar. Did not feel there were quite enough waiting staff which caused some delay with food service.

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Visited On Saturday, 12 January 2019

Lovely menu, very good service. Great portion sizes. Looming forward to returning soon.

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Visited On Friday, 11 January 2019

We were very disappointed at the lack of choice and imagination on the menu, and the only salad available was swamped by dressing.

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Visited On Friday, 13 July 2018

We had a perfect evening. My partner is lactose intolerant & the chef had marked up a copy of the menu for her telling her what she would & wouldn’t be able to eat which was very much appreciated & above & beyond what we expected. Thank you .

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Visited On Thursday, 20 December 2018

Excellent Christmas meal, the food was amazing and the staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming.

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Visited On Thursday, 20 December 2018

We all had a lovely evening - thank you

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Visited On Monday, 24 December 2018

Food was good. The staff very friendly and helpful.

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Visited On Sunday, 23 December 2018

We have a tradition of having lunch at Church Street Tavern every Christmas. This year was a little disappointing, the service was very slow and erratic. We asked for two ginger beers, they were delivered to the wrong table, then bought to ours, but they were just the bottles, no glasses, no ice. We had a bottle of wine at the table, but no ice bucket to keep it chilled. We were there early for Sunday lunch, a 12.30 table, but the service was very slow and we had to go and find staff. The table was overcrowded with a festive decoration and the staff seemed unable to take away used items, leaving us having to put them on the shelf beside us or on the floor at one point. The food however, was very good, beautifully cooked and carved beef, fabulous yorkshire puddings, homemade proper horseradish and inventive vegetables. The rose parfait with Turkish Delight was particularly impressive. A fabulous place but this time the service really let it down which was a shame.

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Visited On Saturday, 22 December 2018

We visited the CST following a family trip to the Mercury Theatre's wonderful pantomine, our second year running. Food was delicious, as always. We were a party of 10, food was a little slow but all came out together, and they happily did half portions for the children that didn't want the childrens menu. Staff were very friendly and checked that we weren't in a hurry to get to the theatre when taking our order. Best place to eat in the town centre. Merry Xmas to you all!

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Visited On Saturday, 22 December 2018

I like this venue. My second visit in one week. Very busy and I think the waiters looked tired. Service was probably 3 out of 5. However, it is usually better. Busy season I guess. Would recomnend to all.

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Visited On Friday, 21 December 2018

Lovely meal and drinks ! Highly recommend

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Visited On Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Had a lunchtime Christmas meal with many guests The food was great. The service was great and everyone had a great time. Well done chef. Well done Matt and thank you Piers. The ChurchTavern is one of the best restaurants in Colchester.

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Visited On Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Great meal as always in fantastic surroundings!

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Visited On Saturday, 15 December 2018

A fabulous evening! I left feedback on your Facebook page also. Highly recommend. Matt was really organised and knew exactly what we had ordered. A brilliant credit and representative of the business name. The food was fabulous and nothing was too small/big. Fabulous experience. We will certainly be returning!

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