I didn’t realise as I hopped on the Central Line in Liverpool Street that 20 minutes later I would be in the next county. Actually, it took my waiter to tell me he’d relocated from London to open Tom, Dick & Harry’s for me realise I had arrived for dinner in Essex. Loughton to be exact, with the restaurant a five-minute walk from the tube station. The restaurant specialises in rosé, with the longest wine list I’ve seen for this colour and from all over the Provence region. There’s a Bloody Mary bar for weekend brunch done the right way, an al fresco dining area and the Sunday Roast Club; all bases covered at Tom, Dick & Harry’s.
The restaurant is sleek and modern. The menu features trendy small plates, or ‘nibblinis’, that included beetroot, ricotta and hazelnuts – fresh, beautifully presented and very delicious – burrata, salsa verde and pine nuts – what’s not to love here? – and, a real test to put any restaurant to, calamari. It was excellent: the squid was soft and tender, the smoked chilli and lime added extra flavour and the outside layer dusted in flour just enough to make it crisp. Top marks…
In fact, each plate of food we ordered was excellent. A sophisticated menu using good quality ingredients, excellently executed by the kitchen. I was pleased, as ever, to see a good amount of seafood on the menu and had to stop myself ordering just these dishes. But the fish plates we did try were cooked to perfection. I hate to admit it now, but I was surprised at the quality of the food. The reason? I think it’s due to the restaurant’s name. I was expecting something more like a diner, or hearty pub grub perhaps. But it’s not. Tom, Dick & Harry’s is named after the three escape tunnels in The Great Escape; it’s the code the original founders of Media 10 used when leaving their corporate jobs to set up the Loughton agency 17 years ago. And with the restaurant’s strong focus on sourcing British ingredients, it made sense to use a classic idiom for the restaurant. It is a great restaurant for every Tom, Dick or Harry, and anyone wanting a good meal out.
The rosé wine was certainly going to be excellent – the sheer range told us this, as well as the restaurant’s intent on being the best for it in Essex. There were popular producer names to boutique varieties, and I look forward to coming back when the sun is out next year to try some. However, I visited on a cold, autumn Monday evening (what better occasion for dinner out with a friend?) so we went for a very nice bottle of Gavi.
The chargrilled tuna was beautiful – delicately flavoured, perfectly cooked and well paired with a fresh green romesco and toasted almonds. We also chose the spatchcock poussin, which is (I’m unsure why) a reasonably rare treat in affordable restaurants. The flavour was wonderful, with cumin and sumac spices really making it. If the rest of the menu – including baked aubergine, the recommended beef burger and Cornish plaice – matches these two mains in standard, the restaurant is doing very well, (and I’ll be back). The general food theme I guess is Mediterranean, but who needs penning in by just one cuisine?
We were convinced to have dessert and chose dark chocolate mousse with candied peanuts and ice cream, as well as an affogato – boring but the best way to end a meal, in my opinion. As you’d expect, the dessert was rich, sweet and tasty, and called for a cocktail to finish the meal off right. I went for my standard, a Manhattan, and was given the choice of having it sweet or dry. I was impressed by the classic cocktail served and next time will try one of their signatures. Perhaps one inspired by Tom Hardy, the ‘I Liked You Better When You Were Drunk’, which stars citron vodka, Cinzano, grapefruit, lemon, basil and brown sugar.
Tom, Dick & Harry’s opened in July. It’s an easy journey from London and would make a fun day trip after visiting the Topgolf venue in Chigwell. Or maybe a Sunday walk in Epping Forest before heading to the restaurant for a Bloody Mary, made by you or one of their professionals, and a roast dinner. You can choose your meat that comes with all the trimmings and have it carved by the head of your table for sharing family-style. Add to this acoustic performances by local musicians on the restaurant’s baby grand piano and you have yourself a sociable Sunday.
Tom, Dick & Harry’s
153 High Road