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Reviewing some of the Independent Restaurants in Billericay
We appointed our own mystery reviewer with a brief to tell us about places to eat which are not national and international chains. We want to support local businesses as local residents.

This month's restaurant is The Magic Mushroom

Where to take a friend who was visiting and who enjoys good food, was solved by ‘The Magic Mushroom’. Car parking, on the opposite side of the road, gives sight to the unappealing exterior of the converted modern barn and might put some people off. However, inside the tranquil décor of browns and cream and the friendly welcome put our minds at rest. The tables are well spaced and even though it was mid-week about half were taken. Throughout our visit the service was superb – friendly, attentive but never overbearing. Extensive Menus and Wine List took time to study but we ordered from the Set Menu and the ‘a la Carte’. Later we realised the Set Menu was much better value at £24.50, and that it was changed weekly, whilst the other was seasonal.

After the ‘bouche amuse’,  water melon with pineapple and a touch of apricot was a refreshing starter, but there should have been more than four sesame prawns and less salad to make the other starter good value. The main courses of beautifully cooked lamb with baby beetroot, celeriac and a tasty jus and monkfish thermidor with samphire on mashed potato were faultless and truly delicious. Go and try them but make sure you are hungry as the portions are very generous. We should have refused the gorgeous home-made breads although I doubt if I will be able to in the future having once tasted them! The Rioja was sliding down well, as any House wine should, and it was sensibly priced (which can add to its enjoyment!)
The Set Menu  offered a choice of seven starters, six mains and six puds but the apple tarte tatin proved an excellent choice. Sharp puree under well cooked slices of apple on thin pastry with just enough caramel sauce and  ice cream to accompany it. Unfortunately the raspberry cheesecake was bland and needed  some fresh raspberries to reinforce the flavour. Excellent coffee and home-made truffles finished the meal.
The cooking at this restaurant is superb, as is the service, so it is a pity about the slightly fussy presentation.   Rating 9/10.