As a family, we have been to a few Harvesters. They’re generally very family-friendly and good value, and my kids have always been keen to go back. In the past, I have sometimes found the food a little lacking, and the restaurants a little tired: it never felt like a ‘good’ meal out, more something to avoid cooking! However, I know they are always a popular choice with families, and they have indeed won ‘Best Place for Families to Eat’ on the Essex Mums awards a few times, so when we were contacted to try out one of the newly refurbished restaurants, I thought it was time to give it another go.
Firstly, we nearly missed out because we went to the wrong restaurant. However, when I called and explained, the manager was extremely accommodating and told me to just come along and they would squeeze us in. When we arrived at the Honey Pot, albeit a little late, I was really impressed. The new decor looks great – it feels much lighter and more modern than the older style restaurants, and felt less ‘pubby’ which is what I have found of others. We were seated at a fantastic table in the middle of the restaurant with a lazy Susan in the middle. I love a lazy Susan so was immediately impressed, and the kids thought it was brilliant to turn it around so everyone had each other’s drinks: “Haha, Dexter has Daddy’s beer”… and repeat.
The staff were brilliant, really friendly and great with the kids, and informed us of some of the new things now available. Harvester now offer a mocktail bar, which was pretty fun – it’s basically one of those drinks machines where you can pour your own drink and add flavours, but with the addition of some predesigned recipes, plus fruit garnishes on the side. I had a strawberry mist and a lemon cooler and found the whole procedure quite exciting, as did my daughter. They also now offer an overhauled dessert menu, including ‘freakshakes’ – milkshakes with biscuits, cakes etc. in them, though we couldn’t manage these on top of the sundaes.
We all love the salad bar, and although it still had mainly the same things, it seemed to be better quality. I don’t know if this was just something good about that restaurant in particular, or whether the recipes themselves have been overhauled, but it seemed much nicer. The main menu is pretty much the same as it’s been for a while, though there is more of a focus on the chicken etc. My main was good though perhaps a little on the bland side, though my husband and kids all really enjoyed theirs, particularly my son Felix who loved his BBQ chicken, so I think it was just me rather than the food! The desserts were delicious and it was really hard to decide, though I settled on a Baileys one which was delicious. The kids all had Make Your Own Sundaes, which they really enjoyed too. We were all fully stuffed by the time it came to leave, and we hadn’t even had starters!
All in all, we were impressed and it has made me reconsider Harvester as a place we will visit more. Though I might have to wait until the mocktail bar is rolled out in our local one first!
To find your local Harvester, visit www.harvester.co.uk