NEWS

Magic Mushroom Billericay’s Finest

A special place, where contemporary and traditional work in perfect harmony…

Walking into The Magic Mushroom is like walking into the warm embrace of a much-loved old friend. From the minute you step through the door, the waiting team are immediately on hand, to make sure your evening is as comfortable as it can possibly be. Never intrusive, the staff just have the uncanny knack of knowing exactly when your wine needs topping up. You’d be forgiven for thinking that, considering The Magic Mushroom has been a firm fixture on the Essex food scene for some time now, a certain degree of routine and complacency may have crept in. Not at this restaurant. Chef proprietor Darren Bennet and his crew continue to create exciting, innovative dishes to adorn a menu eager to push boundaries. Customers should arrive expecting to find a range of classic plates, but decorated with the unexpected. Pan-roasted hake with chorizo ‘jam’. Crisp belly of lamb with buttermilk and salsa verde. Small twists which are extremely pleasing to the eye, and the palette. The interior of the restaurant is warm, wide and open, making this is an ideal venue for either an intimate meal with a loved one, or a fantastic space to hold parties and gatherings. See for yourself!

SAMPLE MENU

STARTERS

Tempura Cod, curried mayonnaise, mango chutney and coriander – £10.95

Truffled Gnocchi, girolle mushrooms, crushed chestnuts, wild mushroom veloute and poached egg – £7.50

MAINS

Pork Belly, black pudding, ham hock croquette, charred hispi cabbage and burnt apple purée – £21.50

Lamb Rump, salt baked turnip, Dauphinoise potatoes, sugar snaps and lamb jus – £23.95

DESSERTS

Salted Caramel Tart with pistachio ice cream and pistachio crumb – Fixed price menu

Chocolate Brownie with chocolate sauce and salted caramel ice cream – Fixed price menu

THE REVIEW

When arriving at a restaurant, sometimes it’s nice to head to the bar, rather than be whisked straight off to a table. So, when our waitress suggested we peruse the menu over a glass of wine first, it made for a refreshing change. Saying that, once we spied the specials, we couldn’t wait to get started! Mrs Exquisite was first out of the block with her tempura cod. Enveloped in a light, crisp batter, the fish and curried mayonnaise worked perfectly together. My truffled gnocchi with girolle mushrooms, crushed chestnuts and wild mushroom veloute was a delicious seasonal treat, imbued with deep, rich flavours and textures. It also has to be one of life’s best pleasures sinking a fork into a delicately cooked poached egg. Next came my lamb rump, a beautiful cut that had been cooked pink and obviously rested properly, such was the tenderness. So many places get this wrong. As for Mrs Exquisite’s pork belly, ham croquette and charred cabbage, I was really holding out that she wouldn’t be able to eat it all, so I could help. Alas, she finished it all by herself. She also made light work of her incredibly indulgent chocolate brownie. Although this time, I wasn’t so concerned, for I had a wonderful slice of salted caramel tart with pistachio ice cream - the smallest spoonful of which was shared at the very end.

Contact: The Magic Mushroom, Barleylands Road, Billericay, CM11 2UD Tel: 01268 289963

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Inside the Magic Mushroom with Darren Bennett

The popular Barleylands restaurant, the Magic Mushroom, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. We talk to Executive Chef and owner, Darren Bennett about the secrets to his success. Congratulations on your twentieth year! What do you think is the secret to the success of the Magic Mushroom? I’ve always tried to keep the restaurant fresh and moved it forward with the times. My team and I listen to customer feedback and work hard to ensure attention to detail is always met. Do you have any special events planned for the 20th year anniversary? We are having a swing & soul live singing summer event on the evening of July 7th. It’ll be great to see some of the faces that have continued to support The Magic Mushroom over the years. What does the future hold for the Magic Mushroom? We have some exciting plans for the next phase of the restaurant, currently in the ‘preparation’ stages so I can’t disclose anything yet… Watch this space! Is there a story behind the name of the restaurant? I wanted a name that stuck in people’s mind. The name has lead them into wanting to find out more. What are your career highlights? Opening the Magic Mushroom Restaurant in May 1996 was a great achievement, I was young, ambitious and ready for the challenge of delivering a fine-dining experience in Essex. Which chef or chefs have been your main inspiration? Marco Pier White. But also many unknown chefs that I worked with in my early career. I observed them and learnt everything I could to evolve my own style and confidence. What do you love about being a chef? I have always enjoyed the creativity of food, both with the flavours and the presentation. What has been the most popular dish at the restaurant? The Lobster Thermidor, Chilli Fish Chowder and Crispy Pork belly are always requested if they’re not on the menu. Any advice to aspiring chefs? Work hard, learn from others and keep your eye on your goal. Your guilty pleasure? Chocolate Your bedtime drink of choice? Vodka Marmite? (love it or hate it?) Love it

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