Dining out at The Bell Inn, Horndon on the Hill

PUBLISHED: 13:04 17 December 2013 | UPDATED: 13:04 17 December 2013




AT this time of year it’s great to find a guiding light on a cold and dark winter’s evening. Just 15 minutes from Thurrock and the hustle and bustle of the January sales, is such a place. From the outside, The Bell Inn at Horndon on the Hill looks like many a 15th century coaching inn. However, this one has been run by the same family for the past 75 years and the love which goes into the building and its menus shines through. With an open fire it is a very popular, traditional pub with tables downstairs for dining. We booked for the restaurant on the first floor, which is quieter and more sophisticated.

We began with salmon and lime tartare with a lime dressing and Thai risotto ball and salmon keta, and my dining partner chose roasted pumpkin and butternut squash ravioli with mustard cheese sauce and poached pear. As we waited only a short while for our starters to arrive, we enjoyed marinated olives and slices of homemade bread, one raisin and the other wholemeal, accompanied by a glass of chardonnay

When our food arrived the dishes looked splendid and the balance of my salmon with the lime tartare was a perfect combination. Service was swift and friendly, despite there being a large birthday group in on the same evening as us. The restaurant isn’t large but the generous spacing ensures privacy.

For our main course my guest chose their roast loin of pork and I picked the 24-hour, slow-cooked lamb with spinach, harissa chick peas and mint. The dishes were served with fresh shredded cabbage, carrots and a side of creamy mashed potato. My tender lamb was generously proportioned and had plenty of flavour and again both dishes were a pleasure on the eyes as well as the palate. We rounded off our evening with glazed pistachio crème brulee with spun sugar, popping candy and a hazelnut parfait and an individual fig and apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and toasted oats.

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