Reviewing some of the Independent Restaurants in Billericay
We appointed our own mystery reviewer with the brief to tell us about the places to eat which are not national or international chains. We want to support local businesses as local residents.Featured this month is MANUEL'S RESTAURANT
This time I’ve gone a little farther afield to The Eagle and Child near the traffic lights on the Chelmsford Road at Shenfield, to a Portuguese restaurant owned and run by a Billericay resident, Joaquim Pereira. Go through the pub and a warm welcome is given by the proprietor who has tried to convey the atmosphere of his home country with the décor. Perhaps more importantly he has employed a good chef. I have eaten there twice and not been disappointed as was the case in Portugal a few months ago. Good, fresh ingredients carefully cooked take some beating.
The red and white house wines chosen from what must be one of the cheapest lists around were fine. For starters my friend and I both chose fish which came attractively garnished. Scallops were cooked to perfection as were the fishcakes made from the traditional salted cod called Bacalhau. The latter was also available as a ‘special’ main course as was a tempting fish stew, but we chose meat. The pork loin with clams in a cream sauce had a terrific flavour without being too rich, whilst the ‘Francesinhe’ consisting of steak, chorizo and ham between slices of bread, topped off with a fried egg and a delicious sauce was excellent and unusual. Described as indulgent it was very hearty, suitable for teenage lads or anyone who had done a hard day’s labour. Beautifully cooked vegetables were extra but one portion was sufficient for two, and each dish came with potatoes in one form or another. The baked custard for dessert although very good was superfluous as traditional Portuguese custard tarts came with coffee – a welcome change from mints!
Service was prompt, informative and friendly and my only disappointment was the bread ordered for the first course, not because it was necessary, but because Manuel’s make a point of stating that all their bread is home made. It came as four unexceptional, cold, tiny slices of a white ciabatta type.