This is the first of a number of blogs about eating and drinking in Colchester. It is a personal view and written by Don Quinn, one of the directors of the Colchester Food and Drink Festival and a food historian. Don is not afraid to speak his mind and give criticism as well as praise. He pays his way at each eating and drinking venue and is fiercely independent in his views. So it’s probably a good thing that the first restaurant he went to in the series met all his expectations. 

Is Grain the best restaurant in Colchester? Well that would depend on so many of things I have always thought it foolish to try and create some sort of list. It so depends on why you are going out to eat. A celebration, a love of really good cooking, a quick fill up, vegan, and so on.So there will be no silly messing about with score charts on this blog!

But in terms of cooking and food Grain is certainly at the top of the tree. So if you want a meal where you can concentrate simply on the food this is a great place to go. The chefs who run it are heading for some serious recognition by Michelin and others.

I went to Grain with the celebrated Malcolm Long. He is a chef’s chef and taught many of the very best. Grain at lunch time offers a series of small dishes We had some simply splendid dishes. Well presented and cooked to the highest standard even for the demanding Malcolm. You can mix fish dishes with meat dishes or go wholly vegetarian. One of the dishes I had was beef cheek with a mashed potato top. I often think the simplest dishes are the hardest and mashed spuds need tender loving care. The mash at Grain was excellent and it shows their attention to detail. I include in that the spot on cheese board. Great cheeses at peak condition and rich quince jelly.

Go to their website to see the menu. You can choose three or four set dishes. We had four and we both came away feeling pleasantly full.

Its not cheap but really worth the little bit extra. Without alcohol but with sparkling water lunch for two cost £49.