After doing some research of the Essex area in no more than a 30 minute drive the Shepherd and Dog appeared on a number of sites and blogs as a recommendation. So when a friend chose to go here for her birthday meal I jumped at the chance to add this to the blog and tell you my thoughts.
First off this was not what I thought. I don’t feel the “gastropub” description as I read on a few reviews is quite true to the venue as it is far more restaurant like and there isn’t that pub feel here at all in my opinion. That being said the Shepherd and Dog describe themselves as a modern restaurant and bar which I would whole heartedly agree with. They have a range of great dishes on offer, alongside a few pub classics thrown in for good measure. Cocktails are available as an aperitif and the staff are all extremely well presented and attentive. Secondly, the menu is not quite as it appears on the website. Some dishes are the same but there are a lot of different ones too, apparently new additions the regulars I was with informed me. It’s always good to see a menu refresh whether that be seasonal or other, it gives a bit of variety when you’re an establishment that has people coming back frequently throughout the year, which seemed to be the case.
For starter I tried the prawn cocktail which was presented in a glass and on a slate plate with fresh bread and butter accompanying the dish. The Atlantic prawn cocktail tasted great with it’s subtle smoked paprika flavour and came with really decent sized fresh prawns. I also tried the Baked Camembert with garlic and rosemary which is designed to share between two and is served with two mini fresh ciabatta baguettes and a homemade onion marmalade. Now being the lover of cheese that I am there was never any doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be in love with this, and I was right. The ciabatta was warm and soft giving you the most amazing base for the soft gooey Camembert seasoned with garlic to the point you could taste it but not too overpowering that it masked the creamy cows milk cheese. Mmmmm cheese heaven!
For main I ordered The Burger 8oz which is made with steak mince and topped with both cheese and streaky bacon and served with onion rings and chips. The burger patty was really thick and juicy, clearly made in house and cooked perfectly which is always a good sign. The burger was quite a beast so I’m going to talk you through its construction from bottom to top; crispy fried onions, steak mince burger patty, cheese, streaky bacon, gherkins, red onion, tomato, baby gem lettuce, and bacon & beef flavoured mayonnaise sandwiched in a seeded brioche bun. I rarely struggle with food but this genuinely defeated me and I ended up leaving half of the fries and just under a half of my burger, not that it went to waste on the table looking and tasting that delicious.
For main I also tried the Gressingham Duck Breast (cover photo) which came out really beautifully presented and was in stark contrast to my huge burger and fries plate of food in that it was quite a small portion. Mitchell is a huge lover of duck and I don’t blame him at all, but we do always find the portions are quite small and potentially a little over priced. That being said you pay for the quality of the ingredients and the duck was not only cooked perfectly but the balance of flavours between the spring onion, cucumber, soy and honey gave this duck a fresh Asian flavour that was exceptionally good, he just wanted a lot more of it! I also sampled the Tandoori Lamb Cutlets which were slightly pink in the middle and had a rich smoky note thanks to the charcoal oven they were cooked in.
Overall the quality of food here was great and there are dishes which are remarkably good for their money and others a little more expensive. We dined early evening on bank holiday Monday and whilst busy it wasn’t packed, but from the layout of the restaurant you could see the tables weren’t on top of each other which is a personal pet peeve of mine. Thank you to the friendly and attentive staff, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again soon!
Shepherd and Dog, 91 Shepherds Hill, Romford, Essex, RM3 0NP
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