Valentine’s Day is here and with romance in the air, it’s time to think about where to head for the ultimate date night.

Whether you are planning to eat out tonight or extend the celebrations into the weekend Essex has a wealth of top eateries to choose from.

Here’s some food for thought when planning the perfect meal with a loved one.

1. Tim Allen’s Flitch of Bacon, Little Dunmow

Found in the picturesque village of Little Dunmow, the Flitch of Bacon has had a whirlwind year.

At the end of 2018 it celebrated becoming Essex’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, just a few months after new owner Tim Allen took over.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Guests can choose from a popular bar menu, putting a classic twist on a host of favourites, as well as an a la carte menu with Tim focusing on seasonal, and where possible, locally produced food.

2. Le Bouchon, Maldon

This popular brasserie and hotel is part of the district’s heritage, having formerly been the home of farmer and manufacturer William Bentall from 1805.

It was known then as Bridge End House and became the historic Bentall’s company boardroom for the senior management when William’s son, Edward Hammond Bentall, took over the management of the company in 1836.

Now a family-run business, Le Bouchon, quickly built up a reputation for good food as well as its cocktails, focusing on a blend of English and French dishes. Visit

3. Grain, Colchester

Launched two years ago, Grain is a dining experience like no other - and would be perfect for Valentine’s Day thanks to its unusual menu.

Diners order a series of taster plates from an ever-changing menu lovingly devised and prepared by chef owners Jordan Sidwell and Paul Wenholdt.

Having launched two years ago as Colchester’s first small plate dining concept, scrapping the three course menu, Grain has gone from strength to strength.

There’s no frills, “just good food, a great selection of drinks and a team of staff wanting everybody who walks through the door to feel comfortable and enjoy their time with us” explain Jordan and Paul.

Perfect for date night.

4. Le Talbooth, Dedham

Found in one of the most picturesque villages in north Essex, Le Talbooth has long been a go-to venue for special occasions.

The historic building is quite literally sitting on the banks for the River Stour, so if you wrap up, you could even take your drinks outside to enjoy the scenery.

Established in 1952, the restaurant is owned by the Milsom family, who also run the nearby Milsoms restaurant and focus on high quality, freshly produced food.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

One of the highlights for diners is the wooden chest of handcrafted chocolates brought out for diners at the end of the meal with dishes, including Confit Pave of cod, best end of Suffolk Lamb and Dedham Vale Chateaubriand, for two of course, with dauphinoise potatoes.

Well worth pushing the boat out for.


5. The Pier, Harwich

Also owned by the Milsom family, the Pier offers stunning sea views.

If you are lucky, you can head out to the balcony to take in the vista before enjoying the huge array of gins, in the speciality gin library they have on offer in the downstairs Navyard bar and terrace.

You could stick to the small plates of food offered here or head up to the main restaurant, influenced by the best European cooking and celebrating the changing food influences from Britain’s mainland.

Taking a brasserie approach, it is on the first floor of the building, dating back to 1860, which has been completely modernised in recent years.


6. Vita Bella, East Hanningfield

If the mouth-watering Italian food made with the freshest of produce isn’t enough to inspire some Valentine’s passion, the restaurant’s cosy and inviting atmosphere will more than do the trick.

The restaurant has strict rules on children guests on certain evenings (Friday and Saturday evenings) so if a special Valentine’s date for just the two of you is what you need, this is the perfect place for a night off from parental duties.

Visit www.vita-bella