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Dining out at The Dukes Head, Hatfield Broad Oak

PUBLISHED: 21:13 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 21:13 24 February 2014

EXG FEB 14 DINING OUT

EXG FEB 14 DINING OUT

Archant

BRUNCH is fast becoming a very en vogue way to spend quality time, enjoying a late morning meal instead of breakfast and then lunch. So this month I thought I’d find some of the very best brunches Essex has to offer to entice you out of your home on a blustery, winter’s morning.

Parts of the Dukes Head date back to 1735 and with two wood fires it’s a very welcoming place to while away some time relaxing. It’s close to Hatfield Forest, so ideal to stop by after a brisk walk, and it’s also minutes from Stansted, so perfect as a place to drop into once back on terra firma perhaps.

With all the hustle and bustle of a typically chaotic week, we decided to start our Sunday by stepping down a gear and letting someone else cook for us. The Dukes Head is open from 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday and the brunch menu certainly has some enticing dishes to choose from.

Small plate options include eggs benedict with Parma ham, eggy bread with grilled smoked bacon and maple syrup or croque monsieur with gruyere and ham, and for those who have worked up a healthy appetite, there’s smoked haddock, cheddar mornay, grilled Manx kippers, corned beef hash or the Duke’s full English breakfast – which tempted both of us. It included oak smoked bacon, Church Gate Farm sausage, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, baked beans, fried bread and either fried, scrambled or poached egg. There is also a veggie breakfast and for those with a liking for something more European, there’s ham and gruyere croissant.

With a selection of different teas and a variety of coffee, along with the Sunday papers ready and waiting on the bar, it did indeed live up to our expectations. We realised after we’d left that the tomato was missing from our plates, just an oversight, but the quantity and quality of the ingredients was such that we didn’t feel short changed by our breakfast’s price tag.

The split level interior is a warm mix of raspberry and clotted cream coloured walls with chintz furnishings, comfortable seating with bare wood or flag stone floors and low beams, some of which are original. The vintage china and friendly service, not to mention the charming brunch, made it a place worth returning to.

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