In March 2017, Andi Walker opened a pop-up restaurant upstairs in the Riverside Inn, Chelmsford. Due to the huge success of his restaurant, Andi has been invited to take over the entire Riverside and open three restaurants, which will open in January 2018. If the tasting menu is anything to go by, Andi Walker’s Riverside Inn will become the most desired restaurant in Chelmsford, and possibly one of the finest in Essex. The Riverside Inn is part of Steve Andrews’ The Blue Group.
About Andi Walker
Andi revealed in an interview with Amateur Chef that it was his grandmother, Nanny Pickles, who introduced him to the world of cooking, and he was always interested in food as a kid. He started cooking professionally when he was 18 years old.
Andi has worked in many high-profile kitchens – he has been Head Chef at The Woodford, and also King’s College Cambridge, and was part of the team at the triple-AA-rosette Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk.
Andi Walker reached the semi-finals of Masterchef The Professionals in 2015. Since then he went on to create and serve an exclusive autumn menu at the Cafe Otto in Paris, and host The Noise of Strangers in Leeds, among other achievements. In October 2017 he reached the finals of Chef of the Year at the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards.
Andi Walker’s Restaurant
The restaurant is split into three sections. The bar area will serve lighter refreshments, while the pub area will continue to be a gastro pub. Upstairs will be the fine dining restaurant, where customers can enjoy a seven-course tasting menu that will change with the seasons.
Andi described the pop-up restaurant as a trial for what is to come. The new restaurant will be more refined, with even more planning and preparation going into each course – the pop-up served outstanding food (see our review below) so we can only expect the new restaurant to offer some outstanding dishes.
The gastro pub will be open every day, and also run a special Sunday lunch menu. The fine dining restaurant will only be open in the evening at the weekend, with food served from 6.30pm Thursday to Saturday.
Review of Andi Walker’s Pop-Up Restaurant
The Pop-up restaurant ran a weekly tasting menu that consisted of seven courses. In November 2017 we were invited to experience the restaurant and sample a menu. The menu started with a snack, followed by a starter, a bread course, a fish/seafood course, a main course, a pre-dessert, and finally the dessert.
What struck us throughout the meal was the attention to detail in each dish. You can literally see how much effort is put into each serving before your taste buds even have a chance to marvel in the delights on the plate. And the plates themselves each complemented the dishes. The sourbread with Marmite-butter was presented on a rustic plate that would not looked out of place in an 18th Century farmhouse, while the dessert was served on a delicate China plate that would happily sit on the dining table at Kensington Palace.
An explosion of flavours!
But, what was most impressive was the food. Whereas many dishes today make use of a sauce to provide the depth of flavour to a meal, here you can see each individual ingredient presented on the dish. And each ingredient has been carefully chosen to ensure that it still works as a whole. This is where the real talent of a Masterchef lies – it really does take cooking to the next level. Several of the dishes included pansies, corn flowers, and fennel flowers, which were certainly not for decoration – in fact, Andi made it clear that everything was edible; just as it should be in any restaurant!
On our visit we experienced seven courses, which started with butternut squash bajis, followed by the starter, rare venison with hazelnuts, beetroot ketchup, burnt apple purée and red watercress. There was a bread course – sour bread served with a Marmite butter, something that really was impossible to hate! Next up was the crab and watermelon, a combination which left us wondering how on earth had we not experienced before. In fact, each of the first dishes provided totally new taste combinations for us, and each left us wanting more!
The main was lamb served with a trio of cauliflower, with cauliflower purée, raw cauliflower, and crisp cauliflower. The lamb was of course cooked to perfection, and was served with ring lamb fat that had been cooked to the texture of a pork scratching was certainly top-notch, and served with frozen goats cheese!
The first of the desserts was a chocolate delice served with raspberry jam, frozen raspberries and frozen white chocolate. The second dessert was a meringue with honey set cream, cream cheese, baked oats – a perfect finale to the evening.
We do not normally do food reviews (although after this evening, we might be open to some more!), so some of the detail in what we experienced may be lacking. However, what was crystal clear on the night was that the title Masterchef is certainly not used in vain – what Andi Walker put together was truly exceptional. Every minor detail provided a taste experience like nothing we had ever seen before in Chelmsford. We cannot wait to return to experience the more refined menu in the New Year!
Give your taste buds a treat in 2018 and head over to Andi Walker’s Riverside Inn in Chelmsford. To book a table call 01245 266881.