I don’t need to explain to anyone who has ever ground the nine to five grind that there is something very special about a Friday. Magical things happen around this portal to the weekend. Things like swapping the suits and sensible shoes in favour of ‘dress down’, the sudden abandonment of weekday diet righteousness for Friday Cakes, a relaxing couple of closing hours of the business day playing candy crush after the boss inevitably buggers off home at three and the sudden total lack of restraint that speaks to your soul and says yes, yes I think we will go out for lunch. It’s Friday.
At my glorious establishment of employment this usually means a pannini and skinny fries at the pub a couple of doors away but this Friday just gone I was told I was going to the Clone Restaurant at the local college. It turns out that this was a comical typo and not some kind of Lucasfilm themed lunchery (I’m bagsing that idea for the future BTW) and we were headed to the Colne Bistro- one of three rather charming open to the public restaurants which form part of the catering college at Colchester Institute.
I hope to rack up enough eating experience to fully review all options here, but for now I can only reflect on one surprisingly pleasing lunch. For the Colne Bistro option, you arrive into a really sweet dining area with almost twee rattan furniture on the carpeted hall floor staffed by some immaculately turned out students from the college. Yes, students. They are not seasoned professionals but they are doing a pretty good job so cut them some slack. Water and bread come to your table free of charge and promptly after you are seated. And if you like scrummy, soft and generally perfect bread they will be bringing you a second serving pretty promptly too as there is no option but to devour the first offering, it is marvellous. Hats off to whoever knocked that up. You can also, if you choose to, watch all the action from the kitchen on a large live feed screen which does dampen the ambience of the room somewhat and may destroy your lunchtime conversations.
The menu isn’t extensive, it seemed to be a single meat, fish or veggie option for first and main courses plus a handful of desserts- you can see a sample menu here. Held in by the restraints of being on an hour break, we just went for mains and my friend and I both ordered a grilled salmon served with a watercress sauce, served in a typically ‘restauranty’ way with strategically placed shell-on cockles and a side of seasonal veg (great roasties). We both thoroughly enjoyed it too and left very clean plates. And the whole thing cost less than a tenner for us both, double bread rounds inclusive.
At the risk of coming over all Governator, I’ll be back. If you’re local to these parts you should definitely take some time to check out this little charmer of an eating spot, you’ll get a good lunch for a bargain price and be supporting local folks in their education to boot. That’s a win-win-win situation for you.
To book or learn more about eating at the CheFS project click here.