The town of Colchester is teeming with top restaurants to choose from, but right up there with the most highly regarded in Essex is Grain, hidden away in a converted home on North Hill, little over a five-minute walk from our Colchester Town Centre (Castle) hotel. It graces the pages of the Good Food Guide, and has Essex’s Chef of the Year 2017 working away in the kitchen concocting the kind of food you’ll be craving long after you’ve aligned your cutlery. At Grain they serve small plates, so everything is starter size and starter price. The idea is that, this way, you can sample as much of their fresh and flavourful menu as you like, without burning a hole in your pocket.
If small plates aren’t up your street, then how about the biggest and best steaks in Colchester? Bellapais is your place. It’s a family-run restaurant on St. John’s Street, opposite the shopping centre, that’s built up a reputation for having the best steaks in the business. Their secret is they only source the highest quality British cattle, and they butcher it on-site. It means their menu ranges from delightfully dainty fillets to monstrous 30oz rumps. But it doesn’t really matter what you order, it’s all delicious. Be warned, though. Bellapais is only a small restaurant, so to avoid disappointment, be sure to book your table in advance.
Speaking of family-run restaurants, Bambu on The Hythe offers incredible authentic Vietnamese food in the most stylish of settings. The menu perfectly treads the line between experimental Saigon street food to traditional Vietnamese village recipes. Plus, the owners are passionate about sustainability and cutting down on waste; all of the tables and benches in the restaurant have been painstakingly made from reclaimed materials. And if the weather’s nice, there’s a fab al fresco seating area, too.
Alternatively, if you prefer Japanese cuisine then make your way to Aburi. It’s set up shop in the bustling streets of the town centre and serves up authentic sushi made fresh in front of you, as well as popular dishes like katsu curry, yakisoba and ramen. And if you want Chinese then try North Hill Noodle Bar. It’s simple, affordable, nutritious, everything’s made fresh to order, and it tastes absolutely sublime. You can enjoy a casual meal in the small restaurant, and they offer takeaway, too.
If you’re short on time, you can’t beat burgers for convenience. And they don’t get better than Love Thy Burger on the High Street. It’s a father and son business that started out in 2014 after they’d tasted the best burgers on the other side of the pond. In their mind, the UK simply wasn’t cutting the mustard compared to America, so they started perfecting their own patties. A lot of people rate them as the best burgers in Colchester. We say they’re dangerously delicious, so be warned if you try them for yourself; other burgers don’t compare.
And last but not least, there’s Il Padrino. Italians will know that Il Padrino translates to ‘The Godfather’, and Il Padrino is The Godfather of Italian restaurants in Colchester. It’s spread over three floors, including the brick wine cellar downstairs, the ground floor with its open-plan kitchen, where you can watch head chef Fausto at work, and the upstairs floor, which offers a more private dining experience. It’s stylish, the service is fantastic, and the food is simple and authentic, just how Italian should be.
Whether you're coming to Colchester for a trip to the zoo, a tour of the castle, a visit to Firstsite, or an evening at the Mercury Theatre, stay with us at any one of our three Colchester hotels. They're perfect for exploring this most historic of Roman towns and all of its fascinating attractions.
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