Dining out at The Spotted Dog, Barnston, Dunmow
PUBLISHED: 10:01 15 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:01 20 February 2013
Stephanie Mackentyre reviews The Spotted Dog just a short drive from Dunmow.
EASY to locate, The Spotted Dog is close to the slip road
for Great Dunmow just off the A120, at Barnston, directly opposite its big sister town. Although its just a short drive from Dunmow, this pub has a pretty rural setting with plenty of parking and its attractive thatched roof and primrose yellow exterior make it easy to spot on the roadside.
From the outside you could be fooled into thinking its a recently refurbished country pub. Inside youll find its now a welcoming restaurant, with a pleasant ambiance. There are chunky wooden tables and high-backed leather chairs with a mix of dark wood and carpeted floors. White walls with cool, calming green paintwork and traditional black exposed beams all add to its charm. Theres still a small bar area with comfortable seating and a large brick fireplace, but mostly its now laid as a restaurant. In the main, tables cater for couples or fours, however, on my visit the tables had been laid together so that they could cater for two large parties.
There is a choice of menu with either a la carte or the prix fixe menu on offer a very reasonable two courses for 9.95 or three courses for 11.95 available. I opted for the prix fixe, which offers three choices for each course, and ordered the deep-fried brie with red current jelly to begin my lunch.
To the side of the central fireplace theres a large wooden book case filled with novels by best-selling authors which adds to the homely feel of the restaurant. Light jazz played overhead and the restaurants layout, all on the one floor, makes access for diners uncomplicated. Despite the two large parties dining, service was attentive and prompt.
Three large quarters of brie coated in crisp breadcrumbs arrived, served with fresh leaves on white china plates and a red current relish. As well as being swift, the service was friendly and the owner, Anita, spent time talking to me about how she and her husband Simon had taken over The Spotted Dog just over a year ago and they now work together running the kitchen and front of house between them.
Next came fillet of salmon with a creamy chive sauce and a fine selection of fresh vegetables including red cabbage, new potatoes, carrots, courgettes, a swede puree and parsnip. The main course really was excellent, the creamy sauce working in harmony with the fresh salmon and those vegetables, well seasoned with fresh black pepper and plentiful too.
Finally, for pudding, my eyes rested longingly on the homemade bread and butter pudding, however my quelled appetite couldnt allow for it so instead I chose to end with a crme brle.
Served in a ramekin dish with an enticing caramelised sugar cap, it had just enough resistance to provide a satisfying crack when tapped with a spoon just how I like it.
Table Talk with diner Alan Ashton and friends
What do you do?
Im retired now, although I still edit a magazine. I used to be a journalist with BBC national radio working in London.
What did you choose from the menu? Surf and turf salad, sauted king prawns, crayfish and beef fillet, mixed with fresh leaves with a balsamic dressing and a curry mayo. For my main course I had the breast of duck marinated in honey, roasted pink, with a honey and soy sauce.
Describe your dining experience in three words:
Good, fun company.
Rate the value for money:
Really good, as the dishes are not too expensive.
How did you discover The Spotted Dog?
Two of our party had been here before, but this
time we all came as it was a surprise birthday
party for one of our group.
Would you come again?
Yes, we found our meal here to be a very pleasant experience.
What was the best part of your meal?
The food in general.
Useful to know
The total bill came to 13.45 for three courses, with a drink. 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.
3 side orders
Three more country pubs given new life as great eateries
The Fat Goose
01255 87 00 60
We say: In less than a year this pub restaurant earned an AA Rosette. Why not go and see the transformation from village pub to welcoming pub restaurant for yourself.
Mill Green Road
We say: The Woolpacks exterior is that of a traditional country pub, but inside is a world of contemporary style, complemented perfectly by
a varied menu.
The Peldon Rose
01206 735 248
We say: Look out for a very tempting modern menu in the charming surroundings of this famous 15th century inn.
Book a table
The Spotted Dog
01245 231 598