Mersea Island Essex

Mersea Island Essex

Whilst visiting Essex recently I did a bit of a detour and visited Mersea Island. The purpose of my visit was really to try out The Company Shed. It has had so many rave reviews and reportedly its one of Jamie Oliver’s favourite places. Food this good justified the additional miles. I knew that it was rustic and you needed to take drink and bread: so I did go prepared. Well, I thought I had.

Beach near the Company Shed

Beach near the Company Shed

The shed is on the beach at West Mersea and there are notices outside warning you about the queues. They must be legendary has nearly all the reviews mention them. I visited mid-week and as predicted there was a queue. As we were just a group of two they put us on the end of a large table. A party of students shared the table and were very well prepared with salad, bread, sauces and drinks. I looked around and most other diners had brought large picnic baskets or cooler boxes. Our small portion of bread and bottle of mineral water looked meagre in comparison.

Most reviews had raved about the sea food platter. When Jay Rayner had reviewed it the cost was £8.50 it is now £11.50 still not badly priced for half a crab, smoked salmon, peeled and shell on prawns, one green lip mussel and a crevette. All the reviews waxed on about the freshness of the sea food. There was a filtration tank in the dining area holding crabs so they really must be fresh.

The seafood platter

The seafood platter


The picnic and sharing approach to dining certainly gives a great atmosphere. The people on the table next to us helpfully told us that we really must come early, they had been there since breakfast. The students on our table must have felt slightly sorry for us and our meagre accompaniments as they offered us some of their salad and potatoes. It is a unique place with absolutely no frills.

So how was the food? Well, I’m slightly embarrassed to say this but it was not that good. It certainly wasn’t that fresh. The wetness of the prawns made them tasteless as only frozen ones can be. The crab was fresh but most of the other ingredients were readily available from any supermarket and not local. Is it that my taste buds are so out of tune with renowned restaurant reviewers and chefs? Have standards slipped? Or is it just a case of emperor’s new clothes?

Advertisements