When I first got to England, I was pretty excited to eat fish and chips – as of course, the first fish and chip shop was opened in fair old London town. So embedded into English history is the chipper that it’s mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
Rolling into my fifth month spent in England, I don’t find it so funny anymore. Fish and chips, can this really be the pride and joy of English cuisine??? Restaurant after restaurant, I left disappointed. When it’s cheap it’s nasty, when it’s remotely tasty it’s stupidly expensive. Combine that with a severe lack of variety, snooty attitudes and questionable freshness. It makes no sense. England has plentiful farming land, English farmers grow high quality produce, the country has borders with delicious food neighbours, it has a long history of innovative people – including some of the world’s best chefs. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THE FOOD IS BAD HERE.
Phew. That rant felt good. But good news: English cuisine IS delicious, it just takes a bit more work to find it, but gosh it’s worth the effort. Enter the Bell Inn on Horndon-On-Hill. The drive there alone is worth the time. Beautiful rolling hills and lush greenery, it is exactly why so many flock to live in the Essex countryside. The Bell Inn sits at the end of a narrow, old style street. It doesn’t deny that it’s an English pub, and focuses on the best of English cuisine than snooty attitude. The Bell Inn boasts a mighty a wine list, even its regular customers proudly boast about its cellars. The wines are also available to buy to take home – at an incredibly reasonable price.
Ok, so good vibe – tick, great service – tick, well priced – tick, tasty wines – tick, good food? TICK! The menu here changes on a daily basis, they post a new menu up on their website every day. This ensures amazing quality that emphasises the brilliance of English produce. The duck and pigeon terrine and crab bisque displays the foodie influence of their French neighbours but with an unmissable English sensibility. The kidneys with bubble and squeak brings back old time English innovation, the abilty to create something delicious out of scraps. We had a side of samphire, a strangely tasty vegetable that is similar to seaweed and unique to the coastal line of Essex.
The meal was an absolute pleasure for the senses – visually exciting, delightfully tasty, wonderfully creative, proudly traditional – this is what English cuisine is all about.
Info: High Road . Horndon-On-The-Hill . Essex SS17 8LD
ph: 1375 642 463 website: http://www.bell-inn.co.uk/
[Vegetarian?] ok [Vegan?] no [Gluten free?] ok [Dairy free?] ok
How much money to bring: ₤20-40 per person
OK to bring a date? yes
It’s closed on: open 7 days, kitchen closed between lunch and dinner times. Check their website.
Sounds like: Suite #1 in E Flat – Gustav Holst
This is what samphire looks like: