Dining out at The Square & Compasses, Fairstead
PUBLISHED: 10:27 03 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:27 03 July 2017
You know when you find a country pub in the middle of nowhere that's teeming with happy customers, then you've made a good choice. The Square and Compasses is a pub which serves good food - so good that people travel great distances to visit.
I decided to do the same on this particular Sunday as the area also boasts a great selection of walks, including the Essex Way from White Notley to Great Waltham, so ideal for a Sunday stroll.
Both the exterior and interior offer plenty of traditional touches to this pub, which was derelict for a number of years before being taken over in 2007 by Victor Roome and Susan Poole. The walls are filled with old fashioned glass and clay bottles, sepia portraits and tools of yesteryear, with shelves of previously-enjoyed bottles of red wine. There’s a dog-friendly Tap Room plus the main dining room and a traditional brick-built, copper-topped bar.
The menu has plenty of pub classics plus a sizeable blackboard of specials. On top of that the pub regularly hosts fish and pie weeks and also field to fork nights where the entire menu is veggie friendly. As it was Sunday lunch I chose roast pork loin with rosemary infused roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. It was served with its own mini jug of rich gravy, broccoli florets and carrot batons.
For my dining partner, he enjoyed the homemade spring vegetable, broad bean, wild garlic, baby leaf spinach and spring onion tart, which came with a broad bean fricassee and salad leaves. Both dishes were ample portions and full of deliciousness.
As we enjoyed our lunches, with the dog sleeping happily beneath our stripped wooden table, we listened to some of the friendly banter between the locals and landlord Victor. He and the rest of the team were in full flow, coping efficiently with, not only a full bar and restaurant, but a private party on the first floor too.
The pub attracts plenty of cyclists due to its rural location and welcomes families with young children, and is wheelchair friendly too. Pudding was a problem. Neither of us had room after our substantial mains, however, the steamed jam and sponge pudding, the white chocolate and Baileys cheesecake and the chocolate and orange tort with a berry coulis all sounded too good not to try at least one.
We decided to share the latter, chased down with a cup of smooth coffee. Finally we had to ease our way reluctantly from our cushioned wooden pew for a well-needed stretch and stroll.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £30.15 for two main courses with one dessert and coffees. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed
Susan Cook, with her husband Peter and her brother John Wells and his wife Kathy
Where do you live and what do you do?
We live in Billericay and I work for the local council there.
What did you choose from the menu?
I chose the roast pork and then the vanilla sponge pudding with raspberry jam and custard.
Why were you at The Square & Compasses?
I’d been here once a couple of months ago and we really liked it, so we chose to return today.
Describe your dining experience in a phrase:
This is a quaint English pub with very good service and the food is brilliant.
How would you rate the value for money?
It is good value, with good quality food.
Worth visiting again?
Oh absolutely, and I’d recommend it to others.
What was the best part of your visit?
The service and the atmosphere that they create here is very good.
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The Square & Compasses
Side Orders: Three more places ideal to take a Sunday stroll
111 Bell Common
We say: Set minutes from Epping Forest, there’s plenty of scope for a wander through the woodland before or after your luncheon.
The Sun Inn
We say: Set in the heart of the picturesque village setting of delightful Dedham. Walk in either direction and enjoy the scenery as you stroll.
1-5 Pier Avenue
Clacton on Sea
We say: What better than a stroll along the prom by the seaside! Take our advice and stroll first as the portions are oh so generous.