The Wooden Fender, Colchester Road, Ardleigh

The Wooden Fender, Colchester Road, Ardleigh.

The Wooden Fender, Colchester Road, Ardleigh.

First published in Eating Out

The morning after the night before I couldn’t stomach a single morsel. Fortunately, it wasn’t due to an outbreak of food poisoning and, yes, it was entirely my fault.

I’d overindulged on a three-course dinner and red wine at the Wooden Fender and, unlike other morning-afters, when I looked at the bank balance, the damage wasn’t too bad.

The pub-style venue hidden away on the outskirts of Colchester gives it a rustic, cosy, atmosphere.

However, one observation my boyfriend and I both made as we sat down to our table was the average age of the customers.

This wasn’t the sort of trendy restaurant we were used to and the dated table mats and menu, spread over several pages, in a folder didn’t do the place any favours in attracting 20-somethings.

But an extensive menu means lots of choice and after ordering the wine – note to waitress: We liked it poured for us please! – I opted for the breaded mushrooms, while my boyfriend had the mulligatawny soup of the day.

Both were piping hot. The mushrooms did seem a tad greasy, but the dish was well presented with salad, and the portion was ample.

My boyfriend’s soup was enjoyable, but having both scoffed our way through the bread basket earlier on, he would have preferred some more, warm bread with it.

For our main meals, I had the tomato, mozzarella and basil wellington served with chips, while my boyfriend had the Somerset fillet of pork, served with chef’s potatoes, and a cider, apple and wholegrain mustard.

Other dishes on offer included chargrilled 16oz rib eye steak, pan seared pork cutlet or lemon risotto.

I definitely made a good choice. The cheese melted in the mouth and before long I’d wolfed the lot down. My boyfriend described his pork as average, but it all went down the hatch.

At this point I should have given in and not chosen to ignore my full belly. However, in the interests of a thorough review, I had to squeeze a dessert in.

The menu had a modest list of choices, but it wasn’t until we nearly placed our orders the waitress brought over an extensive list of choices on a white board.

I couldn’t help, but think the restaurant was missing a trick here by not showing off all the choices in the main menu. After deliberating over apple crumble, fudge cake and many more temptations, I went for the white chocolate cookie cheesecake and my boyfriend had the white chocolate cheesecake.

I was a bit surprised to be given something resembling a mousse, but all the same it was rich and delicious. My boyfriend’s portion was more than enough for him and again very tasty.

We had a good meal, the service was reasonable, but we couldn’t help feeling just a few small tweaks would make the Wooden Fender a place that we would bring our friends back to.

Andrea Collitt

What we ate Breaded mushrooms: £4.50 Soup of the day: £4.50 Tomato, mozzarella and basil wellington: £8.95 Somerset fillet of pork: £11.95 White chocolate cheesecake: £3.95 White chocolate cookie cheesecake: £3.95

Our verdict Atmosphere **** Service *** Value **** Decor **

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