Twice a year with work, we are treated to a team meal out and this time it was at The Chequers at Matching Green. One of the team is a vegan and previous meals out had been somewhat disappointing for her so, as she had previously eaten at The Chequers, this was signed off and the table booked.
For a Thursday, on a wet and stormy evening, the pub was packed. It doesn’t feel like a pub in all honesty, more of a bistro or relaxed restaurant but that is no bad thing. A real hum of people enjoying themselves and the bustle of waiting staff hit you as soon as you walked in the door. Opting for a pint of Woodforde’s Wherry on arrival we sat down and tried to choose what to have.
Now I love a prawn cocktail, however this is one of those dishes that more often than not, will be disappointing. It always sounds so simple and is such a cliché that most places don’t even focus on how to make it great. It wasn’t that long ago that I was actually served a prawn cocktail without any sauce! Just cold, wet prawns and some lettuce…
For the first time in ages, I wasn’t disappointed! The prawns were juicy and flavoursome without being ice cold which they so often are. The sauce was rich and tangy and there was enough to coat everything. I was sceptical of the mango, however it wasn’t too sweet and deliciously fragrant so added another dimension to the dish without taking away from the prawns. My only slight criticism was firstly, not having a slice of chunky wholemeal bread and butter. In my mind all the best prawn cocktails have that to mop up some of the sauce. I also hate the sound of metal on metal so the metal serving dish wasn’t to my taste, but that certainly wouldn’t stop me ordering it again!
As I had been trying to lose a bit of weight, I wanted to be able to enjoy 3 courses but without blowing the calorie count for the day, so opted for the Cajun Lemon Chicken with a tomato salad on the side. The chicken was grilled really well. Juicy and flavoursome whilst allowing the Cajun spice to come through. The mushroom was… a grilled mushroom and the tomato was a well cooked, grilled tomato. The salad was a bit disappointing. As I might have previously mentioned, I am a strong believer that a salad should be more than just assorted chopped vegetables. All it takes is a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and some seasoning to provide an enjoyable side dish, so why don’t more people do it!
A very nice touch for the dish was the lemon wedge which was covered in a muslin wrap. This let you squeeze to your hearts content without having to worry about pips. This was such a simple idea but really showed some attention to detail, which is always appreciated.
I do enjoy a good dessert, hence one of the reasons I will sacrifice extras on a main course to be able to enjoy a final course. A Dulce de Leche Caramel cake sounded too good to pass by. At the end of the day most things would taste good is you covered them in Dulce de Leche. the rich, fudgey sauce will always be a winner and on top a soft, moist cake and served with a good vanilla ice cream, it was always going to be good. There is no need for random pieces of fruit on a plate unless they are there on purpose, in which case there should always be enough to go with every spoonful. However, again this is a minor gripe and the cake disappeared all too quickly.
I would definitely visit The Chequers again. It had a great atmosphere and all the food was really good, perfect for a nice meal out with family or in this case, work colleagues. Every dish was enjoyed and delivered what had been promised. For me, they could take it to the next level by just a few more thoughtful touches on the dishes, the lemon shows they have what it takes.
Phone number: 01279 731 276
Address: Matching Green, Essex, CM17 0PZ, England