Restaurant Review: Flitch of Bacon, Dunmow

I came across the Flitch of Bacon, in Little Dunmow, Essex when looking for a gastropub in the country where I could celebrate my birthday. The Flitch of Bacon is owned by Daniel Clifford, who is most well known for owning Midsummer House, the 2 Michelin Star Restaurant in Cambridge. While the Flitch of Bacon doesn’t have any major awards as yet, its clear from the outset that this is certainly where it is heading (although, you’ll see from this review there is still some work to do!).

Location and Decor

The Flitch of Bacon is located in the tiny village of Little Dunmow in Essex, around 15 minutes drive from Stansted Airport and the M11. From the outside it is very much a traditional village pub, but once you step inside it has been beautifully renovated, keeping traditional features, but making a modern dining and bar area. You walk in directly from the road into a small bar area, the dining room winds round towards the back of the pub where the open kitchen (complete with kitchen table) is located. At the rear is a large beer garden, complete with BBQ’s and old van that has been converted into an outdoor kitchen. When we visited on a stormy October day, we didn’t really make use of the outdoor areas!

The tables are simple, bare wood and while the overall look is simple and unfussy the overall decor is very much high end. On a Saturday lunch we arrived to only three other tables being occupied and while things got a little busier as time went on it certainly wasn’t full. This was a little worrying about the on-going viability of the business — although perhaps this will change if (or when) Michelin stars are awarded.

Menu

For our Saturday lunchtime service three menus were offered, a simple 3 course set menu for a very reasonable £25 for 3-courses (it now looks like this is only available Thursday and Friday lunch). A full a-la-carte menu and finally a tasting menu. We weren’t actually presented with the tasting menu so decided to go for the a-la-carte, giving us around 4–6 choices per course.

Given the Flitch of Bacon is aiming for Michelin stars the 3-courses also came with snacks, olives, bread, amuse bouche and pre-dessert along with chocolates at the end of the meal. Everything we would expect from the high standards of cooking they were aiming for.

First things first — every dish that was presented looked stunning. This really is brilliantly photographic food. The good news was that the looks didn’t mean we had to miss out on flavour, with all of our dishes tasting brilliant. With my sweet tooth, my personal favourite was my dessert of “Lady Grey”, Valrhona chocolate and lime. The menu was certainly very seasonal as well with plenty of game on during October.

We certainly enjoyed every dish — all of which you can see below! Sorry we forgot to take pictures of the main courses without us!

Snacks and Olives
Fresh Sourdough Bread
Amuse Bouche of Butternut Squash Foam and Salted Seeds
Chalk Stream trout, cucumber, crème fraiche, Lapsang Souchong
Great Garnetts ham hock, reblochon, mustard, piccalilli
Roast Cod, broccoli, anchovy, tempura
Venison, celariac, cocoa, elderberry
Pre Dessert
“Lady Grey”, Valrhona Chocolate and Lime
Blackberry cheesecake, almond, verjus
Homemade Truffles and Jelly

Service

Service at The Flitch of Bacon was where things certainly could do with some improvement. Throughout the meal everything was really friendly and we certainly couldn’t take away anything from this — but a couple of mistakes crept in throughout. When ordering our meals the way in which everything is carried out is a little confusing. The waiter / waitress could do more to help you understand what was happening next. We were never really given the opportunity to order drinks and had to do this by asking ourselves. We also were never offered the tasting menu (although the waitress did introduce it as available). You might have lost some up-sell there!

Finally when our starters arrived the waitress managed to drop a piece from my wife’s onto the floor. The fact is mistakes happen and this wasn’t the issue. What happened next was that the waitress panicked, left us with the food and asked the kitchen to re-prepare the piece she had dropped (which arrived just as she was finishing her starter). What should have happened was both dishes were taken back to the kitchen and presented complete. We actually sat there for 3–5 minutes after the incident wondering what would happen. Communication from the waitress could have been better during this period. We did find out the waitress was new, but achieving the coveted Stars will require issues like this to be dealt with much more professionally.

Ambiance

The Flitch of Bacon really gets the right balance between traditional country inn and modern dining destination. The dining room was small yet buzzy (even though not completely full), and felt relaxing throughout our meal. It would certainly be great to visit during the summer months to see the outside space in action.

Overall

We really enjoyed our trip to the Flitch of Bacon and would certainly visit again. The food was certainly beautifully presented but also tasted great and certainly was worth the prices on the menu (especially with all the extras thrown in). If you’re looking for a bargain then the lunch set menu is certainly worth opting for. I’ve no doubt that Daniel Clifford will be pushing towards the Michelin Star, but more care probably needs to be given to Front of House, rather than the food, in this respect. Get this right and sort out the mistakes and I’m sure it won’t be long until we see the Flitch of Bacon joining the Michelin Star list. This would certainly be great, as Essex overall certainly lacks the high-end foodie establishments that the other Home Counties possess.