Din­ing Out At

Re­viewed by Stephanie Mack­en­tyre

Essex Life - - CONTENTS -

The King’s Head at North Weald

The aroma of wood smoke greeted us from the open fire to the left of the solid oak door en­trance. The King’s Head is one of the most an­cient pubs in the county, built from old ship’s tim­bers, with some parts dat­ing back 450 years. As we’d ar­rived with our dog we were wel­comed into the bar area at the front, rather than the restau­rant. In the bar there are cosy cor­ners with com­fort­able chairs, but take note you are un­able to book for this area (only the restau­rant) as it’s on a first come first served ba­sis only.

This year they are of­fer­ing to take away the stress and has­sle of cook­ing your own Christ­mas din­ner with a three-course menu at a rea­son­able £59.95 per head. They are also of­fer­ing to en­hance your meal with six dif­fer­ent drink pack­ages to ac­com­pany your fes­tive spread. After choos­ing drinks, we started with a prawn and lob­ster cock­tail for my guest served with a lob­ster may­on­naise, and for me a clas­sic — scal­lops with seared chorizo, served with hot gar­lic but­ter and three strips of rus­tic gra­nary bread to soak up the de­li­cious juices. Both dishes ar­rived swiftly and were at­trac­tively pre­sented.

Al­though we couldn’t sam­ple the Christ­mas fayre, we did try the turkey roast. Main cour­ses took a while longer, but when they did ar­rive the turkey was suc­cu­lent and the veg­eta­bles, parsnips and thyme-cooked car­rots were par­tic­u­larly good, as was the gravy served in a mini gravy boat on the side. Home­made York­shire pud­dings, roast pota­toes and stuff­ing wrapped in ba­con with a serv­ing of cab­bage on the side com­pleted the dish.

It was un­sea­son­ably warm the lunchtime we dined so I think the vol­ume of cus­tomers caught them out and hence there was a bit of a lag be­tween our fi­nal two cour­ses. The staff, al­though per­haps a lit­tle over­whelmed by the num­bers of cus­tomers that day, we found to be ex­tremely friendly and wel­com­ing.

Hang­ing out there for longer than an­tic­i­pated wasn’t ex­actly a chore. They are clearly quite a for­ward-think­ing com­pany (owned by Vin­tage Inns) as we no­ticed sev­eral clever con­cepts on the menu. Not only the drinks pack­ages for Christ­mas, but also roast duo and trio of­fer­ings, pop­u­lar shar­ing plat­ters and ex­tra sides of York­shires, cauliflower cheese and roast pota­toes, plus to start you can or­der mini pud­dings served with strips of beef and beef drip­ping gravy just to tide you over while you or­der your main meal.

Talk­ing of mini puds, they also of­fer sweet ones to en­joy with cof­fee, which we both or­dered. Tof­fee milk pud­ding for me, the caramel from a banoffee with the crumbly bis­cuit base, and for my guest a ramekin of rhubarb crum­ble with cus­tard – the very best part of his meal, ap­par­ently! The cof­fee ar­rived first, which was smooth and steam­ing. We’d both drained ours by the time our puds ar­rived.

If you can’t squeeze in on Christ­mas Day, there is a three­course menu on Box­ing Day plus a spe­cial party pack­age for New Year’s Eve com­plete with glasses of fizz and en­ter­tain­ment.

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