When my American friends visit me in Southend, they always want to do a “pub crawl”. Since there are about 13 pubs between me and where my horse is located in Canewdon, Essex, I think they would be on the floor before we got half way through. Besides, in my mind, pubs are for lunch or dinner and not just for drinking. Here are my top three picks if you are traveling through the country side in this part of Essex.
1. The Royal Oak – From their website: “The Royal Oak at Great Stambridge has lost none of its old charm, indeed the whole ambiance has been enriched by the new decor and furniture. The Tudor style is predominant, with blackened oak beams and whitewashed ceilings featured throughout the entire premises.
The spacious bar offers ample room to relax and enjoy a drink or two from the well stocked bar. The pub has access and toilets for disabled customers. During the warmer months, you can take advantage of the large attractive garden with it’s picturesque views overlooking a pasture with horses exercising.
The pub attracts a good cross section of customers including many Ramblers who frequently visit this part of the Essex countryside. A number of interesting places are close by, including the small hamlet of Canewdon where you can visit a famous haunted church. A superb Trout & Course Fishing facility is located just down the road, whilst both Ballards and Rochford Golf Clubs are only a short journey away.”
The Royal oak is my favourite pub near where I live. They are located in Great Stambridge which is only about a ten minute drive from Southend High Street. They have, by far, the best food, especially roast dinners, of any pub I’ve ever visited. They are a bit pricier food wise, but you get exceptional quality for the extra cost. They do have a small selection of Real Ales available and the fresh local dishes are second to none. Save room for dessert because they have some fantastic offerings. Also, if the garlic butter prawns are on offer, be sure to have them! The staff is very friendly and the restaurant itself has a lovely homey feel. Call ahead for reservations to avoid disappointment.
2. The Cherry Tree – From their website: “The Cherry Tree is an 18th Century Inn and modern restaurant based in the rural village of Stambridge, just 1 mile east of Rochford and 5 miles North of Southend Town Centre, Essex.
This delightful and popular pub restaurant has been owned and managed by the Oliver Family since the late 80’s, who have in that time attained and maintained an excellent reputation for high quality, reasonably priced straightforward food, real ales and wine.
The Cherry Tree really does offer the best of both worlds, contrasting the traditional with the modern. Walking in you are welcomed into a warm, traditional Inn featuring a wooden beamed structure, a large bar, two open fires and comfortable, spaciously set out wooden tables where you can relax and enjoy a drink or meal at your leisure.
All of the delicious dishes served are carefully created in house using the best of seasonal ingredients that are sourced as locally as possible, including local hand-made sausages from Barling and fresh fish and seafood from Leigh-on-Sea.”
The Cherry Tree is my choice when we want something different and have guests to entertain. The Oliver family that their website mentions is none other than the famous chef Jamie Oliver. And boy all those Olivers know how to cook! You are guaranteed to have a fine gourmet meal at this restaurant. If you are hungry for good home cooking and lots of it, this isn’t the pub for that, but if you want a finely crafted meal and a wonderful atmosphere, this is the place for you. There used to be a three-legged cat that would wander from table to table and was my favorite part of the dining experience.
3. The Plough and Sail – From their website: “This typical timbered building is steeped in Essex history. It has been an inn for at least 300 years, and most of the building is original. Even today it continues to be the centre of Paglesham’s activities. This lovely old public house is just a short walk down the lane to the River Roach, famous for Essex boats, and of course oysters!
In 1890 over thirty oyster smacks were working from Paglesham, and The Plough and Sail was the meeting place for the hard working crews. You can enjoy all the traditional facilities of a country inn; good food and drink, with a friendly service at the fairest prices, all presented by your hosts.”
The Plough and Sail is out of the way at the far end of Paglesham which is about a 20 minute drive from Southend. This is another Oliver Family owned pub and a favorite of the locals. This is the pub you go to for the honest hearty pub meal. Local ingredients are featured in most dishes and you can’t really go wrong no matter what you order. Watch your head on the low ceilings in the bar area though! And save room for dessert here especially. The strawberry pavlova is legendary. This is a favorite to go to on a chilly night with a loved one or close friend.
Be sure to enjoy the lovely countryside around these areas. The local people are friendly and helpful and love to serve great food and drinks to visitors. Have a stroll along the sea wall after dinner or see some of the beautiful old churches. You will be ensured of a memorable visit to Essex!