“ Address: Victoria Road / Chelmsford / Essex / CM2 6LJ „
Some friends of mine are regular pub quiz goers, and their favourite quiz is the weekly Wednesday quiz at the Riverside Inn, Chelmsford, so one week I went along to check it out. The inn is an old seventeenth century coaching inn and mill based on the banks of the river Chelmer (you can sometimes spot canoeists nearby) and they also have a few bedrooms for those staying in the area. It is located just 5 minutes from the town centre and can be accessed in about 6 minutes from the local rail station, and bus services come by this way too.
The Riverside area is easily signposted as there is a leisure and shopping centre nearby with further parking. The pub does not have its own car park; I parked in the public pay and display opposite. Charges were £1 per hour, and £3.50 for four hours or more. I understand that this is the most reasonably priced of the nearby car parks but I have not tried any of the others to be sure. Parking in the streets would be pretty much impossible in the immediate locality due to proximity to the town centre and the station means a lot of places are permit/residents parking or double yellow lines.
The pub is large with wooden beams on the ceiling and lots of wooden tables and padded chairs around, plus a few leather sofas and armchairs. All the furnishings seem well maintained and not torn or scratched, it looks like the owners and their team take pride in their pub. There seemed to be an upstairs area but I didn't investigate. The bar area is big, uncluttered and clean (no damp bits just where you were about to lean) and there seemed to be enough staff on, all who seemed friendly and helpful. There is a neat and well maintained garden area and a blanket box where you may borrow a blanket if it is chilly outside later - I thought this a nice touch as I often feel the cold, but like to enjoy the outside areas in the summer. As it was we sat inside. The loos were off to one corner and there is a disabled lavatory. Although the building is quite old they have endeavoured to make it accessible with ramps at the entrance. Unfortunately when I visited, they were looking a bit untidy (loo paper all over the floor, wet around the sinks) but otherwise were well stocked, with everything in working order). There are just three cubicles in the ladies, so there could be a queue at peak times.
The pub was quite busy when I arrived at 7.15pm (quiz starts at 8pm-ish) and we had one of the last free tables. I got myself a drink (a diet coke was £2.35) and perused the food menu. Like many pubs they had a good range of wines and spirits. It is a Young's pub, so many of the cask beers are from that family.
I went for the veggie burger (£8.25); a few others had the classic burgers, a soup and a pie. The burger was nothing special, although perfectly edible if sauces added (it came with wholegrain mustard on the side), it was served with lettuce, tomato and a pickle on a small wooden tray. The bun was nice, and the burger was easy to pick up and eat, which is just as well as on the tiny tray it would not be easy to cut with a knife and fork. The burger was accompanied by delicious skin on chips in a little metal bucket. I am SO over chips in a bucket. The classic burger was similarly served. The pie (chicken, ham and leek) was a good size and was described as 'nice', and was served on a plate with seasonal veggies and mash. The soup ordered was carrot and coriander (£5.50) and she thought it very nice, but thought the accompanying bread (which looked like regular sliced white bread) was pretty tasteless. Expect to see the usual suspects like fish & chips, scampi and sausage and mash on the menu also. Overall, everyone enjoyed their food but no one was especially impressed. They do roast dinners here on Sundays which are apparently very popular (booking recommended), as well as barbecues at weekends (weather permitting of course!). I wouldn't rule out eating here again. They do 'meal deals' on various days of the weeks, but not on a Wednesday, which is popular anyway with the quiz.
The quiz was lots of fun! It is £1 per person and there is a cash price for the two top teams (we came second and got £15, but that may depend on the number of people who show up). I understand that there are also roll-over weeks, but this didn't happen the week I was there, so I am not sure what that is about. They also do token prizes for the lowest scoring team and a bottle of wine as a random prize (picked out of the hat). Teams were generally six people or less. As well as conventional quiz questions (I knew remembering who wrote the Mr Men books would come in useful one day) and the obligatory music round (of which I knew all the embarrassing, cheesy stuff, but none of the cool stuff) there were supplementary rounds such as pictures, anagrams, guess the lyrics and cryptic clues. The quiz lasted about two and a half hours from start to final prize awarded, with the scoring and prize-giving being a slightly long-winded process where people were getting fidgety (it was about 10.30/10.45pm).
Overall I enjoyed my time here. The pub is well-looked after, the food is nice enough and the atmosphere pleasant. I recommend the quiz night if that is your 'thing', as it was a fun evening.