Your club captain takes her birthday very seriously…so there was bound to be cocktails involved
By Katie Garner
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Wychelm know how to have a shindig. However March’s social was no ordinary dinner and drinks gathering – oh no. With mine and Jess’s birthday slap bang in the middle of the month, I decided to completely hog the March social for selfish reasons and turn it into a birthday meal out. So on Saturday 15th March, bar and grill restaurant The Village in Hornchurch prepared for siege, as 15 Wychelmers donned their glad rags and dressed to the nines, ready for food fuelled and booze boosted evening of shenanigans.
One of the reasons that I settled on The Village, a venue I had always had a hankering to try, was because they offered a really reasonable set price, three course menu that I felt really fit the bill and would cater for everyone’s tastes. With a choice of four or so starters, main courses and desserts that we could pick on the evening for £18.95 per person, it sounded ideal; and the fact that we could buy our own drinks individually at the bar made it even more convenient. I would say that the food offered was a good mix of Italian specialities and classic British fare which provided a decent enough range. I was also impressed by the drinks menu, most notably the array of cocktails at £4.95 a pop which is downright cheap in cocktail terminology.
We arrived at 7.15pm for our 7.30pm table reservation, and The Village was just gearing up for its busy Saturday night. There was already an excitable buzz about the place and this only increased during the course of the evening, giving a really sociable yet comfortable atmosphere. We were given a long rectangular table in the centre of the restaurant with plenty of space around us, so I couldn’t have asked for better placement. The décor was muted with dark wooden furnishings and floor with plain white walls and an abundance of potted palm plants. Despite being a little on the plain side, it suited our purpose and the chilled out atmosphere made up for the lack of polished finesse that may have been expected from the swanky exterior.
As for the food, I would say that it was pretty basic, cooked well, presented neatly and tasted good. It seemed to lack some wow factor or pizazz or something, but it was a yummy meal and there is nothing really I could put my finger on to fault it. I just personally think it lacked a wee bit of excitement, although I think I would go back to try their full menu. To start, I had the loaded jacket skins with cheese and bacon, served with a satisfying dollop of sour cream. The jackets were lovely despite the bacon bits being teeny tiny and sparse, with cheddar cheese oozing nicely over the fluffy potato filling. This seemed to be by far the most popular starter, although quite a few people opted for the calamari and a couple of folks selected the chicken and vegetable soup.
I again went old school for my main course, settling for the cheese and bacon Village burger, served with chips and relish. Granted, I threw aside any pretence at being lady-like when I tucked into my burger, as there was no other method really than to delve in headfirst, meat juices running down my arm and mayonnaise painting my fingers. Delicious and very satisfying, you can’t go wrong with a solid burger. Another popular main course option seemed to be the BBQ ribs, however the racks really varied in size – poor Joel next to me seemed to have the smallest rib rack ever while Frank opposite me was dismantling a beast on his plate! A couple of people chose the pasta option, and one healthy eater even went for salad…disappointing!
Chocolate is pretty much a safe bet for any dessert, and it always hits my sweet tooth, so what better way to conclude my meal than with the decadent chocolate fudge cake. Opulent, rich and dense, it tasted wonderfully of brownies that had been smothered in the gooey fudgey sauce that drenched my plate. Served with a scoop of bobbing vanilla ice cream, the incredibly thick cake slice was definitely a full on way to finish! For a more refreshing option, others had chosen either the eton mess, with rabbit ear style strawberries poking out of the pile of cream atop the glass, or scoops of lemon and mango sorbet, speared with classic crunchy wafer.
During the meal I had been sipping on beautifully bubbly Prosecco, sharing with my co-birthday buddy Jess and the lovely Sarah, but post dinner was all about the cocktails. I kicked things off with a pina colada courtesy of the flick serving specialist Joel, as I was longing for something refreshing after my intensely dense chocolate hit. Although it was a very creamy cocktail, it was also light, exotic and pineapply, which was what I wanted. Nick bought me a wonderful chocolate and cream cocktail which I adored – I absolutely love chocolate cocktails as they combine two of my favourite things. Need I say more? Jess and Sarah both sampled some of the more fruity cocktails, Sarah choosing a strawberry daiquiri, which Jess went upmarket with a bubbly fruity number topped with a strawberry. Hilariously, Noel ordered a round of pina coladas at one point as we learned that Martin has an almost obsessive soft spot for them, although Craig was less than impressed by his cocktail concoction after his straight whiskey shot.
After paying up and leaving The Village, we trudged our way to nearby pub The Suttons Arms for some more drinks (yes, we hit the gin) and some dancing for the final tracks of the DJ’s selection. The music in there is actually really good, with a great mix of tracks both old and new to really get you singing along and unfortunately showcasing some dance moves! Once The Suttons Arms closed their doors, we decided to head to Hornchurch’s Wetherspoon’s – JJ Moons – for some final drinking, where Gary was the victim to Helen’s enthused gesturing as her large and attractive floral ring thumped him in the face. We stayed in JJ Moons until that closed as well before we decided to part company – I got home at about 1.30am.
I just want to thank everyone who made the effort to gussy up and join Jess and I for our birthday badders dinner. We both had an absolutely fantastic evening and I wouldn’t have changed a thing! I loved every second so thank you to everyone who made it such an awesome night. Also thanks for the birthday cards – I will be cracking mine open on my actual birthday on Tuesday, so thanks in advance!
We now also have a full sign up sheet for April’s social, which is afternoon tea at the Manor Green Manor over in Brentwood. Keep your eyes peeled for information about May’s social – have plenty of ideas people!