When Ben and I first got together, in the heady days of dating when I was still giving the illusion of being an entirely together human being and he was yet to find out how annoying I am, we used to go out for dinner all the time.
I’d look online for the latest swish place for us to venture to and we’d get ourselves booked in and spend a happy few hours filling our faces with delicious food and good wine; but these days, it’s something we do less often as our evenings and weekends tend to be filled with either an endless stream of chores and errands (being an adult is overrated) or seeing friends and family.
So, when we were offered a slap-up meal at The Honey Pot, Harvester’s venue at Festival Leisure Park in Basildon, we jumped at the chance. I mean, Harvester salad bars are the dream aren’t they? I always end up gorging myself on the free potato salad and sweetcorn then struggling to eat my actual meal – anyone else?
I’ve only been in The Honey Pot once before and that – scarily – was about 14 years ago (!!) when I popped down there for a drink with an old friend. As you can imagine, it’s changed a fair bit since then, but even moreso as it recently went through a period of refurbishment bringing it right up to date in its styling and giving it a real homely, cosy feel. Think low lights, wooden accents and comfy chairs – the perfect setting for eating yourself into a food coma.
Having stared at the menu for the regulation slightly-too-long-but-I-can’t-decide period of time, both of us decided that we were going to skip having a starter as we were going to grab a salad instead. (Have I mentioned my love for the salad bar yet?)
We filled our bowls, and subsequently our faces, and sipped our refillable soft drinks whilst we waited for our main meal to be served. The refillable drinks now come with the option to add a flavoured shot of syrup too and Ben regressed to his previous child self as he pumped cherry syrup into his coke like all his Christmases had come at once.
For our mains, I opted for steak with chips, onion rings, tomato and mushroom, whilst Ben decided to go for a mixed grill. Size-wise the portions were generous, with neither of us needing to fear we might end up going hungry. I had my steak medium-rare and it was cooked to perfection, falling apart as my knife moved through it and melting in my mouth – it really was something special. Ben barely came up for air whilst eating his so, although I didn’t personally try any of it, I know it was good! Both of us were really impressed with the chips too – something so simple but so easy to get wrong, however these were near-on perfect, crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle.
By the time we had finished these I was starting to think I might have gone overboard on the salad once again and wondering why I’m the person I am, but that was soon put to one side when we were shown the dessert menu. I had a read through the various options just to show willing, but I’d already had a cheeky look at it before we’d visited and I knew what I was having – a Freakshake.
With three flavours on the menu – Espress Yourself, Cookie Monster and Sweet Shop – I couldn’t decide which one to have, so I wore down Ben’s resolve until he agreed he would have one too, meaning I could taste two of the options available. He ordered the Cookie Monster (vanilla ice cream, Belgian chocolate sauce, cream, Oreo and chocolate brownie) and I had the Sweet Shop (bubblegum ice cream, milk, cream, candy floss).
What things of beauty, I have all the heart eye emojis for these.
In terms of flavour, both of these were delicious at the top but by the time we got to the bottom they were mainly ice cream and milk. That said, by that point I was almost at bursting point, so it being less moreish was definitely a good thing. I am 100% on the Freakshake train now though and can definitely see what all the hype is about.
(Disclaimer: I believe there are no calories in Freakshakes. Ahem).
Overall, we were both really surprised at how good the food was. For some reason, I always put Harvester into the same category as Toby Carvery’s – somewhere to go for a filling of food when you can’t be bothered to cook or want something cheap and cheerful, but honestly, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The food at The Honey Pot was really good and we have both said we will definitely be returning soon; with the leisure park being so close it’s the ideal location to go bowling or to the cinema before finishing off the day with something tasty to eat.
If you want to visit your local Harvester with their Freakshakes and AMAZING SALAD BAR, you can find out where your nearest one is on their website.
I can’t wait to go back!
* In Association with Brand *