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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

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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, 18 April 2019

The food and service was excellent but the ambience of the dining room left a lot to be desire. It is due for a make-over with a much more welcoming and comfortable look

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Visited On Sunday, 14 April 2019

The actual meal was fine but I find the rather unfriendly email telling us that the booking was not confirmed until I visited a website with a very long series of letters and numbers etc. in order to give my debit card details very off-putting. I would much prefer to give those details over the phone at the time of booking.

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Visited On Friday, 12 April 2019

A great value excellent meal as a pre theatre experience. Welcome was a little wobbly, possibly because our reservation was literally at opening time, but the waiting staff were very good once they got into the swing. I would have liked somewhere to put my coat.... but other than that this was a very good dining experience. Thankyou

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Visited On Friday, 12 April 2019

Lovely evening, food was very nice. Service good. Very quiet in resturant overall.

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Visited On Thursday, 11 April 2019

Lovely food.

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Visited On Saturday, 06 April 2019

We had a really delightful evening and were particularly appreciative of the fabulous service.

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Visited On Friday, 05 April 2019

An excellent evening. Food and drink was of a high quality and the service was first rate

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Visited On Friday, 05 April 2019

Wonderful food, atmosphere and customer service. We are very lucky to have such a good restaurant nearby

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Visited On Wednesday, 03 April 2019

Our server was absolutely fantastic. Very friendly and helpful whilst also letting us enjoy our meal. Would highly recommend to anyone.

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Visited On Friday, 29 March 2019

Myself and three friends enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Church Street Tavern. Food and service were first class and good value for money. Both the upstairs restaurant and downstairs bar are comfortable and attractive. The atmosphere on our visit was slightly lacking but only because there were very few other diners. But it did mean there was plenty of room.

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Visited On Sunday, 31 March 2019

Thanks for A very enjoyable experience

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Visited On Friday, 29 March 2019

Always a good experience with friendly staff in the restaurant and delicious food. Jansens Temptation is a must as a side order!

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Visited On Thursday, 28 March 2019

Very good pre theatre supper. The duck starter was particularly good as was the cod main course. Very nice sangiovese red wine and the decaf coffee was served exactly as requested and was nice and hot despite the copious amount of milk that was added. Nice staff. Thank you.

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Visited On Friday, 22 March 2019

Great service and good food

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Visited On Saturday, 23 March 2019

Always a pleasure to eat there. Impeccable service : the staff and kitchen are always wiling to accommodate any requirements. Lovely place

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Visited On Saturday, 23 March 2019

Another great meal at Church Street Tavern. Food, service and atmosphere at the normal high standard.

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Visited On Friday, 22 March 2019

On of our favourite restaurants in the area

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Visited On Thursday, 21 March 2019

I enjoyed the early dinner with two friends. Tables not too close. Attentive waitress Both the sardine starter and the baked cod main with crab veloute were delicious. Unfortunately the leek was difficult to eat as it couldn't be cut into mouth sized pieces, but we managed to eat it in layers. The desert I had of poached pear was also delicious.

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Visited On Sunday, 17 March 2019

Lovely overall

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Visited On Saturday, 16 March 2019

Lovely meal served in time for us to get to the theatre-thank you!

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Visited On Saturday, 09 March 2019

My friend and I had 2 delicious courses each and shared a bottle of wine and were very happy with the surroundings, the service and the whole experience. Lovely to be able to have a cocktail in the bar afterwards too... Will definitely visit again.

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Visited On Saturday, 09 March 2019

Lovely food attentive staff tables not to close to each other.. really enjoyed our meal.

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Visited On Friday, 08 March 2019

Great visit as usual. More gluten free options like offering gluten free bread would be tge icing on the cake! See you soon and thanks

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Visited On Saturday, 02 March 2019

We had dinner here with our family and our friends who were visiting from Australia - 8 of us. We had a very nice evening but there were one or two criticisms which is a shame as the food was absolutely delicious. Although the staff were pleasant enough in the restaurant the service was very slow and we had to ask for our order to be taken an hour and a half after the time of our booking. Some dishes on the menu had by then run out - the prime rib-eye for 2. The wine we ordered also ran out (Roda) after we'd had one bottle and wanted to order more - this should have maybe been pointed out to us at the time of ordering. The barman downstairs was very rude when we were ordering drinks (as our table wasn't ready) and tried to tell us that soda water and sparkling mineral water were the same thing! When we told him they weren't he was very annoyed as he had to 'go upstairs' to get some!! It's a pity that the service lets you down as the food and the setting is great but sadly, I wasn't surprised by this as I'd already read similar reviews before we dined here. I was hoping I'd be proved wrong. Perhaps you should act upon these reviews?

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Visited On Friday, 01 March 2019

I love the Church St Tavern's decor and busy atmosphere but I am sorry that there is always something majorly amiss wih our experience. We arrived for the anniversary meal and for our own celebration. There was no champagne to sell us (missed revenue!!- lsat time there was no ice so we couldn't buy cocktails) and then when we reached the restaurant the booking was regular as the website hadn't been taking bookings properly. Such a shame!

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