We were lucky enough to be invited to the Riverside Inn for the launch of Andi Walker’s taker over. Following the big success of his pop up, Andi has become a permanent fixture from January 2018, showcasing his new bistro inspired menu.
‘Who is Andi Walker?’
Andi first entered the public eye after appearing on MasterChef the Professionals back in 2015 and becoming a semi-finalist. Before MasterChef, Andi held the Head Chef position at The Woodford and at Kings College Cambridge. Andi has also had experience in a three-AA-rosette restaurant in Suffolk. Since MasterChef, Andi has hosted The Noise of Strangers Pop-up event in Leeds, as well as creating and serving an exclusive autumn menu at a fully-booked two-night event at Café Otto in central Paris. At the beginning of October, he also reached the finals in the Chef of the Year category at the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards.
‘The Big Launch’
Andi’s new set up sees the restaurant being split into three distinct areas, with three menus. There will be bar snacks and little bites in the bar area, a full gastro menu on the ground floor dining area and continuing the 7 course tasting menu upstairs. The tasting menu is set to run on Friday and Saturday nights whilst the Gastro and bar menu will run all week. For those of you that have been to the Riverside Inn before, you will notice a few decorative changes to the upstairs, but generally still keeping the same feel.
The evening started with some complimentary bubbles or cocktails which continued throughout the evening, and the bar area was full of family, friends and press. There was around 70 people there and unfortunately the canapés were a little light in the area that we were seated. That being said, what we did try was delicious. They showcased the bar snacks menu.
Ham Hock in a crisp breaded coating accompanied by a mustard mayo. Very tasty, and the first piece of meat I have eaten since Christmas! The meat was very soft and tender, still moist but maintained the crispy breadcrumb coating. I can see why this is on the bar snacks menu as they go down very easily, and could picture having a few drinks with them. Similarly, there was breaded monkfish with a tartar sauce. I have always been a big fan on monkfish anyway, but this did not disappoint. Monkfish has a real meaty texture to it, quite a robust fish, cooked really well so it was still soft and fell apart in the mouth. Perfect with the pot of tangy tartar sauce.
There were also samples of the ‘Essex sausage roll’. Now this is none of you Greggs mass produced stuff. This had to be one of the best sausage rolls I’ve had in a long time. The pastry was perfectly flaky and had a sweet honey coating, the meat was well seasoned, tasted fresh and homemade. Dipped in brown sauce? perfect! I did see some southern fried chicken and butternut squash bahji’s circling but unfortunately didn’t get to taste them! They flew off the trays. The bread and marmite butter, was also a hit. Well it was for me as I’m a marmite lover, soft fresh bread with some marmite butter slathered on; could have filled myself up on just that! I went and found Andi at the kitchen pass as he was plating up desserts. Raspberry cheesecake; topped the evening off nicely, not too rich, bursts of sharp raspberry and a really nice creamy undertone.
I would definitely recommend giving this place a go. It seems to be set for a drastic improvement on any of the previous food that has come from the Riverside Inn, and Andi will definitely bring the pub up to where it needs to be to compete with the ever-growing range of places to eat in Chelmsford.
‘A Few Words’
During the organised chaos of the evening, I was able to grab a few quick words with Andi. A truly genuine guy, He has worked his menus around fresh, seasonal, local produce. Therefore, the menus will be constantly changing depending on what is in season and what is available at the time. He said that he is “really looking forward to getting started and getting into service now. It has been really tough job and feels a little drained, but it’s all totally worth it. The area hasn’t really got much in the way of places to eat like this, so hopefully the locals really get behind it and help make it a success.”