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Pubs for Sunday lunch in Essex: 12 tasty places you should visit

PUBLISHED: 12:50 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 31 August 2017

Cathy Yeulet, Thinkstock

Cathy Yeulet, Thinkstock

© Cathy Yeulet

As an enduring British institution, it’s incredibly important to get your Sunday lunch right. Here are 12 pubs in Essex that know how to deliver precisely what you require.

1) The Vine Inn, Black Notley

Drive 10 minutes out of Braintree and you’ll reach this charming 16th century pub whose low ceilings, narrow layout and unusual mezzanine provide an eye-catching setting from which to enjoy an unfussy Sunday roast.

Head chef Liam offers at least two joints as well as a number of other non-roast options on the specials board. To accompany your freshly-cooked feast, The Vine offers a new gin every month as well as a selection of real ales from the nearby Bishop Nick brewery.

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2) Cricketers, Bradwell-on-sea

You’ll pass this country pub on your way to explore the Chapel of St Peter-on-the-wall – Britain’s 19th oldest building – and the Dengie National Nature Reserve but don’t pass it on your way back out.

When you stop in you’ll receive a friendly, local reception complemented by similarly welcoming, generously-portioned pub dishes reliably produced every time. If you’re not a Sunday regular yet, the Cricketers’ consistency will soon make you one.

3) The Bath House, Walton-on-the-Naze

Landlord David Green has been at The Bath House now for 27 years: we think it’s fair to say he knows what he’s doing. Alongside Steve Dawson – who makes the self-described ‘best cream leek in the universe’ – Green offers you a choice of four roast meats and views of the North Sea.

Choice and variation is at the heart of their Sunday offering: small, medium and large roasts are available and if you’re struggling to choose between the sirloin beef or rump of lamb, you can simply have both.

4) The Fighting Cocks, Wendens Ambo

Offering a full, largely gluten-free menu alongside their three roast meats, this country pub is a short trip over the River Cam from Saffron Walden. Locally sourced produce is freshly prepared daily on site and each roast meat is cooked to your requirements.

In summer a large garden offers ample room for the kids to enjoy themselves while you try the old-fashioned steak and ale suet pudding or the Fighting Cocks combo roast featuring all three of the aforementioned meats.

5) The Fleur de Lys, Widdington

The striking exterior of this family-run 400-year-old local probably isn’t a good reflection of the sort of atmosphere you’ll get at The Fleur de Lys: despite often being busy, it always feels relaxed, unobtrusive and unpretentious – a theme continued in their locally-sourced menu.

To warm the stomach up and get conversation going before your 21-day aged roast beef ribeye, we recommend a melted camembert and Dorrington’s bread sharing plate. Keep an eye out for the rumoured ghost as well: no one likes an uninvited guest.

6) The Prince Albert, Blackmore

Despite only reopening for food at the beginning of this year, this 300-year-old ivy-clad country pub is building up a following by offering a diverse, interesting menu where dishes are produced with genuine care and attention.

It’s nothing too adventurous but having the option of a roast beef, turkey or lamb bloomer and the Cumberland sausage ring instead of the full-on roast with all the trimmings will keep those with varied tastes coming through the door.

7) White Hart, Moreton

It’s not often that the roast faces such stiff competition on a Sunday menu yet the White Hart’s wild boar burger sure does give it and its fluffy Yorkshire puds a run for its money.

Chefs Aziz and Danny are the ones responsible for giving you this happy dilemma and their creations effortlessly reflect an atmosphere balancing modern and traditional elements. For a touch of history, inspect the prints signed by fighter pilots who frequented this country establishment.

8) The Bear Inn, Stock

With such an emphasis on creating an ambiance of traditional comfort, you might be surprised to hear that The Bear’s culinary options feel more like modern, gastropub-esque fare.

Based just off Stock High Street, attentive yet unobtrusive staff will serve you mouth-watering dishes like the crayfish, avocado and smoked salmon tian, the roast rib of scotch beef for traditionalists or the blue cheese soufflé – one of many vegetarian options on a menu boasting variation you’d typically expect during the week.

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9) Donkey & Buskins, Layer de la Haye

Since head chef Iggy joined this deceptively large country pub near to the Roman River, regular patrons have been consistently enchanted by the incredible flavours and attention to detail he puts into every dish.

Iggy will likely even come out to make sure every roast or seasonal Sunday special is tip top – the perfect opportunity for you to shower him with well-deserved praise. Outdoor areas are adorned in beautiful greenery and flora, creating an outside atmosphere thoroughly enjoyed by all comers.

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10) The Wooden Fender, Ardleigh

A stalwart of Ardleigh life situated next to the reservoir, The Wooden Fender was first mentioned in history as early as 1625 and was later used as a meeting point to discuss allegations of witchcraft – don’t worry there’s none of that these days.

Its modern incumbents take incredible care to do its rich history justice through a seasonal Sunday menu that often includes vegetables from the pub’s own garden and a careful maintenance of its simple yet homely interiors.

11) The Hoop, Stock

Converted from three weavers’ cottages around 450 years ago, the interior of this pub on Stock High Street features original woodwork taken from warships based at Tilbury and attractive brick fire places.

When feasting on your Blythburgh roast pork loin with duck fat potatoes and 48-hour gravy, don’t expect any of the annoyances that come with many modern pubs: you won’t see a fruit machine anywhere near this place.

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12) The Bell, Woodham Walter

If you’ve been rambling in the area of Woodham Walter, this remarkable 16th century timber pub will make up part of the serene village environment welcoming you back to civilization. Loosen your boots, relax and come inside knowing a piping hot roast is waiting to be devoured.

Get the timing of your walk correct, however, as the pub only serves food from 12 – 2.30 on a Sunday and you don’t want to miss out. The specials board will always be changing, giving you yet another reason – if you even needed it – to return to this charmingly British local again and again.

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