As it was such a lovely spring day on Saturday, Mr Ample Cook decided that I would be unleashed from my apron and be allowed to venture out for a spot of lunch. Actually, we ended up having a huge great orb of lunch.
We went to Mersea Island - which is located around eight miles from Colchester in Essex - to a place called The Company Shed. It's run by the Haward family who have been growing and harvesting native oysters since 1792. The 'Shed' is a fishmongers come restaurant. When I say restaurant it's really a shed with tables. You can't book ahead and you take your own bread and drink. It's been reviewed in virtually all the Sunday newspaper magazines (Jay Rayner, Jan Moir etc have reviewed it) so it's become a bit of a 'destination place' to eat. In fact if you don't get there around 11.15 you're at the mercy of the blackboard waiting list and you just have to hang around outside waiting for your name to be called. It does attract the hoorays I'm afraid. They stand outside guffawing and saying "what a charming little place" whilst uncorking their Sancerre.
It's a very haphazard affair inside. You go and collect your crockery and mismatched glasses yourself and just order your food at the counter. You don't even pay up front. First up we plumped for some scallops with bacon which were so yummy I nearly forgot to take a photo - hence only one left on the plate.
Next we ordered the seafood platter for two. It was shall we say a very generous portion. As you can see there was shell on prawns, peeled prawns, crevettes, a whole crab, peppered and plain smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, cockles and green lipped mussels - phew and only £8.50 per head. The photo doesn't do it justice - the platter was around 14 inches in diameter. I can honestly say it was as fresh as a daisy. It makes you realise how lousy supermarket smoked salmon and prawns are. No wonder there was a constant - and I mean constant queue for the fish counter.