ed 30.05.16 more recent review here pls see if planning to eat here
ed 30.03.16- note originally written prior to ground-floor expansion, very different feel now
If you’re local to Colchester and you’ve not been to Three Wise Monkeys yet you are probably really sick of everyone going on about how you should go there. The short version of this blog is that yes, you really should go there. But it’s Saturday morning, the coffee pot is full and I don’t feel like getting out of my pjs just yet so I shall expand.
You really should go and check out Three Wise Monkeys.
Based at the castle end of Colchester High Street they have taken on a large old building previously reserved for night club ventures of varying success or, if you’re as old as me you might remember US style ice cream diner Sad Sacks. It’s a great building to start with, conveniently chunked up into separate areas over three floors. Ground level is the comfortingly stark Tap Room- big windows, sensible seating, steel and tiles. This is where the serious beer drinker comes to drink proper beer in a very serious fashion. Of course you can get a glass of wine of one of your flittery cocktail things but with a massive range of draft, keg and bottled beers available it is time to test my theory that yes, you do like beer. Even you over there who swears you don’t like beer- there is one for you. The Tap Room is a great place to stroll up, chat to the knowledgeable bar staff then take a seat and contemplate your choice in a serious looking seat. No fear for the indecisive (or designated drivers) as all drafts are available in third pint glasses as well as halves and full pints. I am unable to sit in here without thinking of my Grandfather who would have fit so perfectly in the corner on a school day afternoon, enjoying his prescribed pint and a half (no more, no less) before all the bloody kids came in.
Moving up to the first floor the space opens up somewhat to a larger bar and seated area. They could have easily fallen into the current trend of bare boards and prison metal tables up here which, well, they did but it is quite nicely offset with some low sofas and wonderful greenery which takes the edge off the faux industrial feel. More gloriously high ceilings and it’s a airy, comfy space to indulge in the extensive beer list. I have been thrilled on all my visits to discover something new to drink (Yakima Red where have you been all my life?) as well as the general expected bar fare and an impressive range of spirits. Extra points for a number of British breweries on showcase including Meantime and the ever popular Brewdog and in recent weeks my very favourite cider ever Old Rosie. Brills balls.
On to the food. TWM boasts an ever expanding menu mostly falling under the generic BBQ label. I can hear you groaning already. Oh, great, more pulled pork. I am the first to admit that the massive trend of southern UN cuisine and Soul Food is potentially boring however when done well, slow cooks and home smokes don’t have to be tiresome. They are indeed entirely awesome when executed correctly- by which I mean in no way involved with a chain sub sandwich or supermarket ready meal. TWM are progressing well with gradual menu additions as they continue to provide the expected classics.
So what are you eating here? Stacked burgers, brisket, ribs, imaginative subs, home smoked sausage and yes, yes pulled pork. Limited veggie options available and some decent looking salads. I say decent looking as I have never tried one as I am incapable of tearing myself away from the smoked chicken thighs with cajun sauce which are as good as anything I have tried in the more established London BBQ joints making the foodie headlines these days. It is a great place to eat with friends (as you can nick little bits off their plates) and I can also recommend by proxy anything involving brisket, the chicken chorizo bun and in the words of my beloved ‘It has to be a combo’. The onion rings are perfect. Desserts and new brunch menu also available and you can take a nosy at everything on offer by clicking here.
Food is on the menu (ha!) until 8pm daily when they revert to being a friendly bar, lively at the weekends, with occasional live music and other events always well plugged on their twitter feed @TWM_Colchester
I said three floors didn’t I? There’s a club/private hire space further up which I can’t tell you much about but based on everything else, I’m sure they are also good offerings should you be in need of them.
Colchester really needed Three Wise Monkeys and it’s great to see their apparent and increasing success. Town centre is in danger of becoming an unending line of sterile chain Italians and unfriendly chain pubs rammed with angry binge drinkers listening to crap music and it’s great to see somewhere a little different making it when so many independent shops and traders are quietly shutting shop.
So yes, if you haven’t been to Three Wise Monkeys yet then your friends and their friends and that bloke at work who’s name you forget are all correct- you should go. I might see you there.