The Mistley Thorn Essex – best Sunday roasts

Having spent a relaxing weekend away in Suffolk, we decided to stop off somewhere for a leisurely Sunday dinner, and break up our drive back to London.

A quick google and The Guardian’s 2013 Best Sunday Lunches lists four pubs/restaurants for East England, one being The Crown & Castle in Orford, Suffolk, where we happened to go on Saturday night (it was excellent – hopefully a good indication that the others would be of a similarly high standard).

The Mistley Thorn near Manningtree in Essex is one of the listings: their “seafood specials at this old coaching house include the North Sea’s finest scallops, squid and local beer-battered haddock with chips”.

Decision made. We were going to Mistley, a small village on the coast (by the River Stour ajoining the North Sea) with much history (a Roman road to Colchester, C.17th witchfinders, a Cold War control room that became a museum before finally closing in 2002, etc).

Inside The Mistley Thorn – bar area

It was mid-afternoon, we hadn’t booked. And this place was full – an indication of its popularity. A table for two was made available and we were told there’d be a short wait (by the accommodating, friendly staff) before they could take our order.

And so we enjoyed a leisurely beer (a bottled Goose Island IPA for me, and half an Adnams Spindrift on tap for K) while admiring the simple wood panelled decor that gives the restaurant the feel of a converted seaside hut.

We homed in on the set menu – two courses for £15.95. And both started with the chef’s soup of the day (leek and potato) with croutons (packed with flavours and helped warm us up on this cold wintry day).

Leek + potato soup – soup of the day with croutons

For the main course Sunday roast, we both had roast Suffolk red poll rump of beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast rosemary potatoes and seasonal vegetables, with a red wine gravy and fresh creamed horseradish.

Red Poll cattle are native to East Anglia (a cross between Norfolk Red beef cattle and Suffolk Dun dairy cattle, developed in the 19th century) and are naturally polled (without horns).

This red poll beef was really special – a great cut of lean beef, cooked perfectly (medium), pink in the middle and moist (no chewiness or gristle). Undoubtedly the best roast beef I’ve had in a Sunday roast dinner. The Yorkshire puddings were just right too – crisp on the outside, and soft in the middle.

Roast beef + Yorkshire pudding

Specials menu – sample menu from Sunday 29 March 2015


The Mistley Thorn Rooms + Restaurant – Mistley, Essex


The verdict: Excellent food and great service in homely, comfy surroundings. Well worth a visit, even if it’s out of your way.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: British, Sunday roasts
~ Address: High St, Mistley, near Manningtree, Essex
~ Postcode: CO11 1HE
~ Tel: 01206 392821
~ Nearest station: Mistley
~ Website + menus: The Mistley Thorn website
~ Photos on flickr: images of The Mistley Thorn
~ Location: The Mistley Thorn map

Mistley Thorn on Urbanspoon


Spanglish Mexican Kitchen – Chicago

Brunch bliss in the form of a bacon burrito

My last morning in Chicago before heading over to O’Hare involved a last-minute shop along South State Street, where I passed Spang-lish Mex-i-can Kitchen.

Initially attracted by the restaurant’s name, then the menu options, and price, I ventured in. It was an easy place to go in and eat on my own – a simple diner where you order and pay at the till then wait (with enough interesting artwork to keep you occupied) until your food arrives.

IMG_8802b_inside Spanglish

IMG_8803b_spanglish art
Art @ Spanglish – this piece is by Stefani Villanueva (seemingly a self-employed designer in the Chicago area but I can’t find your website. If you happen to see this post, contact me + I’ll link to your website here…)

I ordered a breakfast burrito @ $5.75 – a giant flour tortilla filled with a base of beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream – and opted for the bacon and egg variety, with a side of guacamole and tortilla chips @ $3.00.

IMG_8813b_Spanglish breakfast burrito
Breakfast burrito with guacamole + tortilla chips

IMG_8810b_EggBaconWrap at Spanglish

Bacon and egg burrito – packed with fresh ingredients

IMG_1618b_Egg + bacon wrap at Spanglais
Giant burrito – so stuffed it stands on its ownor is it a Spanglish work of art?

Including a bottle of water @ $1.10, my entire brunch meal came to $10.00 (about £6.50). Outstanding value without compromising on quality. Very pleasing.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Mexican, cheap-eats
~ Address: 555 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
~ Photos on flickr: images of Spanglish Mexican Kitchen
~ facebook page: Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on fb
~ Location: Spanglish map

More Chicago dining:
~ Gilt Bar
~ The Gage tavern
~ Howells & Hood
~ Tesori

Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Pimlico Fresh – pie envy

12:30pm – The bloke opposite me is eating lunch at his desk. It smells amazing. We’re quick to gather around to smell and admire his steak and mushroom pie with roasted vegetables, and are tempted, envious and tormented in equal measure. All concentration and productivity has drifted away with the steam from his pie.

12:50pm – Now the girl next to me is eating lunch. Unable to resist the smell of freshly made hot pie, she’s just returned from Pimlico Fresh with a chicken, ham and tarragon pie. It’s a beautiful thing to gaze on.

1:00pm – I’m in Pimlico Fresh on Wilton Road. They seem to be doing a roaring trade but that’s hardly surprising if, for every early customer they served this lunchtime, they got two more through sheer pie envy.

Pimlico Fresh – rustic cafe on Wilton Road

There’s a chiller of fresh and unusually concocted fruit smoothies and drinks to the side of the main counter which displays a selection of salads and mighty fine looking cakes, meringues and desserts.

Mighty fine looking carrot cake

It’s only a small café and all the seats are taken – a few breakfast-bar stools in the window, and most seating around chunky wooden dining tables arranged under a blackboard containing today’s chalked menu.

Today’s menu

There’s plenty to choose from including home-made lasagne @ £7.50 or pumpkin tortellini @ £6.95 but there’s really only one option for me. It has to be pie. You can get a pie on its own for £4.50 or with salad for £6.95.

Camera Roll-499
Chicken, ham + tarragon pie

The chicken, ham and tarragon pie contains potato too and with the lovely crusty pastry is a meal in itself.

Steak and mushroom pie

I choose a steak and mushroom pie with a Greek salad which turns out to be my main meal of the day, it’s such a generous portion and so very filling! The pie is moist due to the gravy which you can see in the photo and goes well with the thick, flaky pastry crust.

The only downside is it takes ages to eat my way through it all, and then I’m absolutely stuffed. If you can call that a downside…

On another occasion, I had a jacket potato with cheese and baked beans @ £6.95. I was slightly disgruntled at having to wait 15 minutes while it was prepared (to take away) and almost £7 for a baked potato seemed quite expensive too.

Camera Roll-86
Jacket spud with home-baked beans + cheese

But it was worth the wait: the baked beans were really tomato-ey. They weren’t tinned baked beans but had been freshly cooked in tomato sauce with celery (really wholesome and tasty).

And if you want a healthy booster, there’s a range of smoothies @ £4.00, from carrot, orange, ginger and echinacea to strawberry, bananas and orange juice, or Chegworth Valley juices (pear, apple, etc) @ £2.50 a bottle.

Camera Roll-85-img 6910 Pimlico Fresh smoothies
Smoothies @ £4.00

Cafe info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: British
~ Address: 86 Wilton Road, London
~ Postcode: SW1V 1DE
~ Tel: 020 7932 0030
~ Twitter: @pimlicofresh
~ Nearest station: Victoria
~ Location: Pimlico Fresh map

Nearby dining:
~ Seafresh fish and chip shop + restaurant
~ Taquitos Mexican Grill

Pimlico Fresh on Urbanspoon