The early sun caught dozens of spiderwebs spun between the iron railings of the Recreation Road this morning – and me without my camera! So a photo of Jumbo from the roof of the St. Mary’s cark park in Colchester will have to suffice as evidence of the crisp loveliness.
Christmas shopping over, it was the few short miles out of Colchester to the north, crossing the border with Suffolk and into The Anchor Inn in Nayland. It was taken over a few years ago by Bunting & Sons, who have worked wonders with this pub in the charming village of Nayland (in contrast to the nearby pub, sadly closed).
The pub evidently won a regional Gastro Pub of the Year award this year, and it scores on the usual fronts – food, beer, pub interior, staff and so forth – but has the added benefit of growing a lot of its own food nearby.
It being a bit chilly, the two real fires, crackling away, were welcome. And the selection of beers was a further welcome sight. Not really in the mood for the ‘fresh golden’ experience that the Greene King ‘St Edmunds’ offered, we tested the brewery’s ‘Rocking Rudolph’, a special Christmas ale, and weren’t disappointed, although it wasn’t quite up to the Pitfield Brewery’s ‘Shoreditch Porter’ sampled in The Fat Cat in Colchester the other night (a fuller report from that venue will appear in due course).
A quick lunch being in order, we skipped the starters, which is no easy task. You can check out their menus on the Anchor’s website here, although the menu changes regular to reflect what produce is available. If the pumpkin soup is on, try it!
One thing they do which is welcome is offering the main courses in small portions, so we each tucked into their lemon battered East Coast Cod. We’d had it at full size in the past, and you get a lot of fish, and a huge stack of their fat chips. The smaller portion is much better suited to lunch, and was perfect, with the mushy peas clearly conjured up from real peas.
Having praised the smaller portions, the only problem is that you can then feel justified in going for their puddings. Which we did. And once again, portion size just right for lunchtime, with both the Christmas Pudding and the Sticky Toffee Pudding being just right.
With quick service, and very pleasant staff, and very reasonable prices, it’s a destination worth seeking out. There’s plenty of room in the pub, both upstairs and downstairs, and in their annexe. They’re also noteworthy for the food they smoke themselves, in their smokehouse out the back. This went up in flames quite dramatically a few weeks ago, and they’ve been quick to put a small replacement smokehouse in situ. We’ll doubtless report from here again!
We were left not too full for a quick walk around the quiet streets, and to pop into the local church and admire the John Constable painting therein – both the village and church will be covered in another post.
If you’ve got any recommendations for restaurants and pubs in Essex please let us know!