We might not always get chance to eat out at fancy spots but we know someone who does. Our fancy mum-friend, Katie Underwood, reveals all on fine-dining with little ones in tow, starting with The Flitch of Bacon, Little Dunmow.
For anyone lucky enough to have eaten at Midsummer House, news that Daniel Clifford was opening a pub couldn’t have been more exciting. I’ve had some of the most memorable meals in my life at Midsummer House over the years; but two Michelin-starred food (and the bill that comes after) isn’t really conducive to life with two small kids!
Their aim at The Flitch is to be ‘special but not just for special occasions’ – where people can bring their kids and families, and feel ‘relaxed and welcomed’. We were certainly able to put The Flitch’s young, friendly staff to the extreme ‘family-friendly’ test as soon as we arrived – bless them. Within minutes of being seated, our 3-year-old was suddenly rather ill and created a rather catastrophic scene at the peak of their booked-out Sunday lunch service.
As someone who used to train restaurant staff (and clean up a fair share of mess) I was so grateful and impressed at how the young waiters dealt with the situation. A change of table – tucked out of the way from the main restaurant in the bar area – and a few outfit changes later, we were refreshed, recovered and ready to order! (*Mum note: The bathrooms have baby-changing and are so well decorated that frankly they deserve a visit in their own right).
The wine list for a start was really exciting. With a range and depth far greater than your average dining pub, The Flitch’s list is still easy to navigate with tasting notes dividing the wines into sections, and affordable gems such as Suffolk grown ‘Giffords Hall Bacchus’, and ‘Pechora Pecorino’ from Abruzzo by the glass. The Pecorino was a great example of an exciting a little-known Italian grape varietal; a crisp white, with peachy fruit, spice and minerals… and yet a long, creamy finish. A great alternative for Chardonnay haters, it was the perfect match for my fish.
For starter David and I had smoked salmon and crab Scotch egg with pickled cucumber, wholegrain mustard butter sauce. The egg at the centre was warm, soft and oozing – the salmon salty and ticking all the boxes of a traditional scotch egg. It was a really refined take on a classic with a creamy mustard sauce for dipping. The crab was a little lost however, subsumed by the big-hitting, salty flavors.
At the flitch they offer kids portions of the whole menu, so Felix (now fully recovered…) had beer battered pollock with triple cooked chips and mushy peas. My dad went for the same for main course. The Roast Beef meanwhile came out beautifully pink, with an enormous half-plate sized Yorkshire pudding and sharing sides of cauliflower cheese, mixed greens, and carrots in little copper pans. I was warned against ordering extra sides but the waiter clearly underestimated my enthusiasm for food! The sides were so delicious I’d really recommend a couple per head. My baked cod with parsley crust and mushroom, tomato and chive, tomato butter sauce was as good as it sounds; served with a quenelle of linguine, and cooked to perfection.
There is really nothing I can say about the deserts to truly explain our experience at The Flitch. Showing you a picture just will not do. Imagine caramelisation upon caramelization, at turns chewy and others crisp, layered, layer upon layer with sweet flaky pastry and hot apple and slathered in the melted remnants of vanilla pod ice-cream. The fact that I’ve been watching my calories in recent months may have contributed, but the perfection of the Tarte Tatin bought actual tears to my eyes. David’s pistachio soufflé with dark chocolate sorbet had risen perfectly and the tiny taste I managed to wrestle from him was sweet and intensely pistachio flavoured (which is often pretty illusive), and combined with the deep, bitter, sweet tones of the chocolate.
Go to the Flitch of Bacon. It ain’t cheap so maybe just go for desserts, and have two. With dessert wine. Then sleep off your caramelised sugar stupor in one of their bedrooms. This is already the plan for my birthday next month. Candle in the Tatin, who’s coming?
The Flitch of Bacon, The Street, Little Dunmow CM6 3HT. flitchofbacon.co.uk