Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Company Shed, West Mersea

As reviews go, this is a big one for me. Really big, as this is my favourite place to have lunch bar none, more so than anywhere I have ever eaten. You really need to like seafood as that is literally all they sell, other than a salad. If you want bread, wine or anything else you will have to stop off on the way and buy it yourself. The only accompaniments of any kind that they serve is lemon wedges and Tabasco for the oysters. The Company Shed is all the better for this, as this really lets the quality of the super-fresh seafood shine through.

I ordered four separate dishes…

Firstly, the ubiquitous seafood platted. Every element of this platter is excellent. The prawns are sweet and meaty, the salmon is perfectly smoked, the green lip mussel is big and chewy, the mackerel is subtle and smoky and the crevette is the biggest and juiciest you would ever want. And in the middle of the plate is the ½ crab, which is as good as any I have ever had. Every bit as good as the sweetest Cornish or Cromer crabs. What amazes me when I have this dish is the price, it is £11.50. Yes, £11.50… I honestly don’t think you can get a better plate of seafood for the price.

Oysters are my favourite thing in the world to eat. Those served at The Company Shed are native oysters (not the bigger rock oysters) which can be relatively difficult to find. Half a dozen fresh oysters are as good as it gets. No tabasco for me as I think this is sacrilege, adding so much flavour to something that is perfect as it is; sherry vinegar and chopped shallot is about the limit, anything eels just disguises the taste of perfection. 75p each, you can barely buy oysters in a supermarket for that!

At lunchtime today, I ordered a hot dish for the first time. Scallops with bacon, an absolute classic, and the best I have had in the UK. Big, super-sweet scallops, with the roe left on as it should be. These were so good, and the tried-and-tested combination with bacon was wonderful. A generous portion and good value at £6.95. I would definitely order a hot dish again, my friend had the tiger prawns and these looked delicious.

The final course was the roll-mops (£1.10 each). I absolutely love roll-mops and know how hard it is to find good ones. Put aside all those preconceptions you have and try those at The Company Shed, they are a long away from those that you get in a jar. Chalk and cheese. For me, these are the best thing on the menu, an absolute revelation. Who knew that roll-mops could be so damn good? I’m giving these a SUPER-DISH but they really deserve a category all to themselves.

Never doubted that this place would deliver once again and it did. Everything about the food was excellent and the 1980s interior just adds to the experience, and an experience is exactly what The Company Shed delivers. It’s worth noting that food like this deserves great bread so make sure you take something good with you, plus some butter and (if you want it) some mayonnaise. The fresh fish counter is worth a look too on your way out, all fresh off the boat that morning.

If you like seafood as much as I do then you simply have to go, I passionately believe that you’ll find no better at any price anywhere in the UK. As soon as I left after lunch I was thinking about planning my next visit, how many places can you say that? So highly recommended, it’s obscene!

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