It’s strange as I sit to write my latest post that I have no journey to tell you about, no wanders through the streets of London and dealing with commuters. The reason? It just so happens that this post is about a local bistro and amazingly my first post about it. Amazing as I eat here more often than anywhere else. The place I’m talking about is called Mustard, a small bistro in Chelmsford town centre, just slightly away from the main row of bars, cafés and restaurants. Gladly well away from the younger end of town. So it was just a short bus ride this time rather than the usual trek into London.
As I said, I’ve eaten at Mustard many times now and have chosen now to tell you all about it as the latest night there was for their third birthday. Their third birthday, when did that happen? I find it hard to remember a time Mustard wasn’t there. That’s how this place makes you feel. It’s part of Chelmsford, part of our lives. The food is Great British fayre, local produce where possible, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. So friendly at times you can distract the staff and even other customers as you get carried away with conversation. It always makes for a good night out. I noticed since our first time at Mustard that there are a lot of regulars. That’s always a good sign as people don’t normally suffer bad food regularly. It’s something that, as a diner, puts you at ease, knowing people want to come back time and time again.
And so onto the actual birthday night. A special menu had been put together with a selection of old favourites and new dishes from the very new Chef, in fact he only started that week. This was another reason we had been wanting to get to Mustard again. It was a set menu allowing you to choose 2 or 3 courses for £18 and £23 and with generous portions, this is great value. We are greeted in the usual friendly manner, shown to our table and offered a free glass of prosecco to toast Mustard’s birthday. I should have got the name of that prosecco though as it was particularly good.
I nearly always go for one of the seafood starters as they’re so good so for once I actually bucked the trend and went for the Ham Hock Terrine with home made piccalilli, elderflower jelly, seasonal baby vegetables and toasted olive bread. It’s an old Mustard favourite and my wife has had it several times, each time commenting that she thought I would have it. So tonight was the night to find out what I’d been missing. I’d been missing a great tasting piece of pork goodness, a bit of mustard in there, seasoned well and a very light homemade piccalilli. Why have I not had this before? I hope it appears on the menu again.
We both went for the same main, lamb shanks with spiced red cabbage, champ, and lamb jus. I mean how could we not have this? Just the mention of lamb shanks and I start salivating. I don’t think I have actually ever had a bad lamb shank. Not to say they are easy to do, it’s more that it seems to be something everyone has their own recipe for and to be honest, if I’m not somewhere I know that does great food, I won’t order a lamb shank anyway. It doesn’t fail to please, it’s up there with one of the best lamb shank dishes, a mustard mash, lamb juice, fall off the bone lamb. Was so good I cooked lamb shanks on the following Sunday for dinner.
Stuffed now, we drink our wine, have a chat with the owner, Richard about the last three years, the jazz band starts up and a real party atmosphere starts up. The band is really good, I’m not much of a jazz fan and as they done their own versions of a few Sinatra classics my wife looks on as I start to sing quietly.
We eventually submit to ordering dessert as my wife had already chosen hers before we ordered starters and fear I may be presented with divorces paper on the basis of mental cruelty for depriving her of chocolate. So one mint chocolate cheesecake it is for my wife. I am told it is amazing and have been told that by others too. It is a mainstay of the Mustard menu and a firm favourite by the sounds of it. I have tried a bit before, risking having my hand broken as I tried to take a bit from my wife’s plate. I’m not enough of a dessert person to comment really, it just isn’t for me.
You are reading a blog written by a man who more often has cheese or orders another starter. I did order a dessert though as there was a Bailey’s Crème Brulee. We did have a slight issue here as I didn’t think it had been made well. The top wasn’t crispy and the custard hadn’t really set. Chef came out, the new Chef John Jacobs, and he completely agreed. I have to add here that it wasn’t inedible, just wasn’t quite right, tasted nice but me being fussy, added to the not being a dessert person thing, I couldn’t eat it. I noticed that others ordered this dish and were very happy with it. Oh no, have I become a fussy eater????
However, I have to say the slight issue with the Brulee should not put anyone off. It hasn’t put me off as it’s the whole package you have to look at. Everything else was brilliant, great lamb shanks, a blinding ham hock and very good wine. Now when you consider that not only was I charged for the just two courses, my wife was also only charged for two courses, it shows how well Mustard deal with any hiccups. We didn’t ask for that, it was just done. A lesson a lot of other restaurants could learn. It was a great night and made all the better that the owner, Richard Adams, was able to dine with the customers rather than serving for once. Mustard is more than a place to eat, it’s a good friend who always brings a smile to your face when you visit.
We will eat at Mustard again and again and actually are already booked up for Christmas Day and we really can’t wait So if you’re in Chelmsford, passing by or want to make a trip, look up Mustard, nice light meals for lunch and good hearty seasonal food if you want something more. Oh and I should mention the bar downstairs, serving a well chosen selection of wines & spirits, including our favourite Gin, Sipsmith’s (yes we requested that), and a good selection of beers including local beer from The Brentwood Brewing Co.
Mustard can be found at 37 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex
Twitter: Follow the Bistro @mustardbistro or follow their new chef, John Jacobs @jjatmustard