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Muppets is an archetypal "Greasy Joe" cafe with its nice simple, mostly fried food, menu and formica topped tables. Service is friendly and brisk and the place is popular with shoppers and local businesses for breakfasts, snacks and lunches (closed in the evenings).
Favorite Dish: The standard breakfast at £3.95 includes a mug of tea or coffee and is just that - the usual sausage, bacon, egg, hash brown, fried bread and beans or tomato. Nothing clever just good value food for fuel.
Written Aug 2, 2010
Address: 286 High Street
I'm a great lover of Thai food. I like the simplicity, the cleanliness of the flavours and so when I noticed this little place, with the clever name, I reckoned I'd be in for a treat.
The restaurant itself, in an 18th century Grade II listed former pub called the Half Moon, is characterful and formally elegant with subtle Thai decorations and fittings. Service is friendly, although slightly amateurish, and the menu reads well featuring all the Thai classics.
Favorite Dish: The food however failed to impress me. The Tom Kha (Coconut Milk Soup) with mushrooms was a bland affair, lacking any depth of flavour and the late addition of the raw mushrooms, which were still uncooked when it was served, failed to infuse any flavour to the base. The addition of red cherry tomatoes added colour but not having been peeled made the eating of them as fraught as trying to bite into a miniature Molatov cocktail.
The classic Phad Thai, which I had with king prawns as a main course, was a gelatinous sticky mass of noodles with the predominant flavour being that of sugar and not a lot else happening. Missing was the expected fiery chilli kick which is usually balanced by the fresh flavours of lime, fish sauce and spring onion but apart from a vague peanut back taste this too was bland.
It wasn't that the food was inedible, just boring and with a bill of over £20 (including a couple of nicely chilled Chang beers) not very good value for money.
Nice building though.
Updated Aug 2, 2010
Address: 1 Eastgate Street
Phone: 01255 554532
In my experience small town Chinese restaurants in the UK can often be surprisingly good and this little one here in Harwich (actually it's in Dovercourt if you want to be pedantic) certainly confirms my already established viewpoint.
The "Peking" name is a bit unoriginal and the decor, with its couple of hanging lanterns and the bog-standard calligraphic wall motifs, does little to inspire. White tablecloths are a plus whilst greasyjoe cafe -style plastic topped salt and pepper pots are a bit of minus.
Ach, to hell with the decor!
This is a friendly little small town Chinese restaurant and me I was here to eat. Even though being the only diner on a Tuesday evening (although I did note that the take-away trade seemed brisk) I was made immediately welcome by both the boss and my server - "Sit anywhere sir, we have plenty of space tonight."
The menu reads kindof uninspiring too, covering the gamut of the familiar and lacking in anything that could set the Peking apart from any of the thousands of similarly named places around the country (England that is, not China).
Favorite Dish: Not having any great expectations I first asked for a beer - "Chinese beer sir?"
"Tsing Tao?" I enquired.
OK The menu is still looking very bland but the beer arrives, along with the obligatory basket of prawn crackers and so I stick to my own familiars as I order.
The "Hot and Sour Soup" Zinged! (purposefully-written with a capital "Z" and exclamation mark). It was hot, it was sour. It was laden with veggies and seafoody bits and somewhere behind the front was a superb stock base. Up-front it was finished pefectly with last-minute beaten egg and a good splash of quality soy sauce. The only reason why they would have had to put that empty bowl through the dishwash machine would be for hygiene purposes.
"King Prawns and Sweet Peppers in Black Bean Sauce" is something I've eaten hundreds of times and whilst it's usually a safe bet here it escaped the life-belt. Big prawns, just-cooked (and no more) with mouth-melting peppers and a lively black bean based liquor was further enlived by delicate chilli touches and a hint of honey.
The egg-fried rice it came with was exactly the simple foil required.
This is small town (UK) Chinese at its best and with a bill, including two beers, of about seventeen quid made the round-up to twenty an easy decision.
Written Jul 27, 2010
Address: 192 High Street
The Pier Hotel's main restaurant is decidedly geared for more formal eating but downstairs it does offer the Halfpenny Pier Bistro with more simple offerings for us mere proles. Personally I found the service on the wrong side of stuffiness but then maybe that's just me.
For a lunchtime spot overlooking the harbour this is the prime position to sit and watch the world go by and when the sun's out and you can sit outside then it's almost perfect.
Favorite Dish: The fish pie was pretty good, with luxurious chunks of expensive fish and an interestingly dressed mixed leaf salad almost justifying its price-tag.
Written Apr 13, 2008
Address: The Quay, Harwich
Phone: 01255 241212
In search of simple light lunch I noticed the short but interesting menu here at The Ship at Old Harwich and being a spit away from the harbour decided to drop in to have a crab salad. HA! "Sorry sir. crab salad is off today - no crabs" informed my bouncily upbeat server (who I think is probably one half of the ownership). I really had fancied a crab salad and thought about going elsewhere but the welcome had been so... well, welcoming as I entered, both from the chef (the other half of the ownership?) behind the counter of his open kitchen and my server that I had another look at the menu.
Hmmm...I just wanted something light but substantial and tempted though I was by the fish soup I did fancy something slightly more meaty and opted for the fish and chips. My server explained almost apologetically that today's fish was red mullet. I had been expecting it to be the normal cod or haddock and was more than happy to find something that little bit different. So that was that decided.
The restaurant itself is cosy yet bright with a slightly designer look offset by a few individual touches. Service was excellent, the food good and overall I enjoyed a pleasant and not particularly expensive lunch.
Favorite Dish: Well obviously the fish and chips! A couple of fillets of red mullet. proper home-made chunky chips, home-made tartare sauce, a dish of peas and a chunk of lemon. Washed down with a nice crisp glass of house white and a bill of less than a tenner set me up for the beers to follow!
Updated Apr 13, 2008
Address: Kings Quay Street
Phone: 01255 553727
I attended a company function at the Pier Hotel in November 2005 - lunch with the Mayor ! We had a set three-course menu, and it was really, really good. I always intended to go back and try it properly, and we finally made it one Sunday evening in June 2006.
The Pier Hotel is now owned by Milsom Hotels, who also own the world famous restaurant "Le Talbooth" near Dedham.It is situated right on the quay, at the furthest point in Harwich.
You have two choices for eating. You can go in the Half Penny Bistro on the ground floor (which is what we did this time) or there is the Harbourside Restaurant on the first floor (where my company lunch was held). The photo shows part of the Harbourside Restaurant.
Sample menus and prices are available on the website. By the way, the speciality is seafood - lobster, prawns, oysters, mussels, scallops, monkfish, mullet, seabass, salmon - they're all there and more. To give you an idea of the quality of the food I tool a picture of Liz’s lobster, mango and rocket tartlet. I was a little less adventurous, and had venison and mushroom pie ! All the food we saw heading to other tables looked very good as well, and the service was excellent. We paid just under £ 50 for two courses, including drinks and coffee (for two people).
Updated Jun 27, 2006
Address: The Quay, Harwich, Essex