Location : Colchester Town, Essex
Cuisine : European
Cost : £££
Style : Smart Casual
Rating : 10/10
My colleagues and I went to Grain for lunch a while back to celebrate my manager’s birthday and my MSc results. Grain is tucked away behind North Hill, making it hard to find if you don’t already know where it is (or have a phone with Google Maps).
Grain serves seasonal small plates, so the menu changes regularly. The small plates are individually priced for the dinner menu but for lunch, you can get 2 plates for £15, 3 plates for £18 and 4 plates for £21.
I opted for 3 plates, the first plate was a Beetroot Risotto and Goats Cheese. I don’t really eat beetroot but because I love risotto so much, it was an easy choice. The dish was a beautiful red/purple colour, a distinct contrast to the off-white/brown dishes that I’m used to. The goats cheese added a creamy element and the garnishes, which I can only assume were a parmesan crisp and some kind of diced vegetable (I should’ve asked) gave a nice crunch element. I really enjoyed it and scraped the dish clean. I usually find the potions of risotto as a main too large, so this was the perfect size.
Next, I ordered the Roast Duck, Pecan, Carrot and Honey Glaze, which was really nice. I’ve had duck with honey glaze before so I knew the sweetness would be nice. I didn’t know what to expect with the pecans but I was pleasantly surprised.
Then I ordered the Grain Christmas Pudding, Pedro Ximenez and Golden Raisin (remember, I did say this was a while ago). This Christmas pudding was everything you’d expect, very rich and sweet and was paired well with the ice cream, which made sure the taste wasn’t too rich. I wasn’t a major fan of the golden raisins on top, but I don’t think it spoiled the dish.
One thing about Grain is that they emphasise that “this is not tapas”, which is fine but this also meant the next course would only be served after the previous course’s plates were cleared. This was kind of annoying for us as we were on our lunch break but understandable because the restaurant was very packed and the kitchen looked like it was quite small.
It is no surprise that Grain won the Essex Life Food & Drink ‘Chef of the Year’ award in 2017. When I finished my meal, I was already looking forward to the next time, it is truly one of Colchester’s hidden gems and I cannot wait to return.