Restaurant review: The John Barleycorn
PUBLISHED: 12:06 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:06 08 August 2016
We check out The John Barleycorn in Threshers Bush near Harlow
In Essex, we are blessed with a selection of places to dine which are off the beaten track, yet minutes from many of our major towns. The John Barleycorn is just moments from Harlow and two miles from the M11, yet far enough away to transport you into the tranquillity of our great countryside. The gardens have plenty of established shrubs and wooden tables with parasols to enjoy our English summer, here’s hoping! There’s also a well-stocked, attractive carp pond with waterfall, adding to the setting.
You’ll find three menus to choose from: the a la carte, the lunch menu and specials chalked on a board on the wall. Enjoying a chilled chardonnay and noting the pristine white linen napkins, I tried to narrow down my menu choices. For vegetarians, there are five interesting options on the menu including pesto and pinenut pasta, spiced chickpea cakes and cheese and herb fritters. We began with tempura king prawns with a sweet chilli dip for me and West Country crayfish and prawn salad for my dining guest. Both arrived swiftly and were tasty, plentiful portions.
The interior has plenty of exposed beams and three separate dining areas, and we were fortunate to have a table by the window to enjoy views of the pretty gardens while we dined. Next course for my guest was the Barleycorn steak and ale pie – a rich gravy with plenty of succulent meat under a homemade puff pastry crust. Mine was the chicken breast stuffed with chorizo, pinenuts and goats cheese, served with a red pepper puree – a good choice both for flavour and originality. Both were served with carrots, cabbage, broccoli and a courgette provençal, plus garlic roast and minted new potatoes.
The whole place feels pleasantly familiar and the staff certainly made us feel like regulars, which was a nice touch. We shared an Eton mess dessert of raspberry meringue with fresh raspberries and strawberries, topped with chantilly cream. Wishing to prolong our slice of the countryside, we stayed for a while longer over a cup of filter coffee each too
Useful to know
The total bill came to £59.75 for two courses, drinks, a shared 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
Three more restaurants just off the beaten track
The Swan Stratford St Mary
Stratford St Mary, Colchester CO7 6JR. 01206 321244. www.stratfordswan.com
We say: Rustic, earthy food, world class beers with some gorgeous wines and just 10 minutes from the A12.
The Thatcher’s Arms
Hall Road, Mount Bures, Colchester CO8 5AT. 01787 227460. www.thatchersarms.co.uk
We say: This pub really does transport you to the countryside with its views of the Stour Valley. It also has its own cinema, bar billiards, quoits and a piano, as well as plenty of fresh, local food on its menus.
The Dog & Gun
Boreham Road, Little Waltham, Chelmsford, CM3 3NF. 01245 360211. www.dogandgunchelmsford.co.uk
We say: Just 15 minutes from Chelmsford you’ll find this rural idyll. Originally a coaching inn back in the 17th century, now it’s stylish and contemporary with a top notch menu
Book a table
John Barleycorn, Threshers Bush, Harlow, CM17 0NS. 01279 422675
With diner Jenny Bateman, her partner David Reynolds and a group of their friends.
Where do you live and what do you do? I live in Ongar and I work one day a week at a local estate agents.
What did you choose from the menu? The prawn and crayfish salad and then the barbecue pulled pork in a bun served with salad, coleslaw and chips.
Why were you at The John Barleycorn? We were with David’s friends, two of whom had come over from Australia to visit. All the boys grew up together as children in Theydon Bois.
Describe your dining experience in a phrase. It’s a lovely, bubbly atmosphere with chairs and tables outside to sit at and you can enjoy looking at the lovely fish in the pond.
How would you rate their value for money? I think it worked out about £25 per head for us for our meals and drinks, and I didn’t think that was bad at all.
Worth visiting again? Yes we’ve been before and we’d go again.
What was the best part of your visit? I think I particularly loved watching the fish in the pond. They were massive and it’s just a lovely setting