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


Orford Suffolk – where to go

We had a relaxing long weekend in Suffolk (a 2 hour drive from London) at the end of March. We did some cycling, visited the coastal towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold, and were pleased we’d arranged to stay in the small village of Orford.

Here’s sharing the highlights and – as ever – recommending some places to eat, and where to avoid.


Friends Garage, Orford

Known as “one of the treasures of Orford” Friends Garage is a working garage and petrol station where you can buy fresh eggs laid by the owner’s chickens and hire bicycles at bargain rates (about £6 a day normally).

IMG_1803 Bicycle hire from the local garage

Cycling around coast + countryside nearby – Orford Ness, Chillesford scarecrow


Kings Head pub, Orford

Snug, thirteenth century pub with low, wood-beamed ceilings, serving Adnams ales and good pub grub. All with friendly service too.

IMG_1715 Fresh cod goujons starter @ £6.25

Beef burger + chips @ £10.25

IMG_1726 Skate wing @ £12.50

Sticky toffee pudding @ £5.50

Quick ref info: ~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5 ~ Type: British, pub food, seafood ~ Address: Front Street, Orford, Suffolk, IP12 2LW ~ Tel: 01394 450271; e: ~ Website + menus: Kings Head website ~ Photos on flickr: images of Kings Head food

The Pump Street Bakery, Orford

Gorgeous freshly baked treats and staples – the heart of the village

IMG_1791 Bakery – serving “real bread and slow food”

Cheese + bacon croissant

IMG_1795 Pasteis de nata – Portuguese egg tart

Granary loaf – just gorgeous (we stocked up our freezer)

Quick ref info: ~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5 ~ Type: Bakery, cafe ~ Address: 1 Pump Street, Orford, Suffolk, IP12 2LZ ~ Tel: 01394 459829; e: ~ Website + menus: Pump Street Bakery website ~ Photos on flickr: images of bakery food

Trinity at The Crown & Castle, Orford

Classy restaurant serving top quality food and wines (slightly overly formal service and atmosphere).

IMG_1704 The Crown & Castle – hotel and Trinity restaurant

Salad starter – mountain gorgonzola, spiced pear, chicory + caramelised walnut salad @ £8.50

IMG_1772 Tuna loin starter with shaved celery, pinenuts + lemon dressing @ £9.50

Slow roast pork belly with braised red cabbage, whipped celeriac, potatoes + gravy @ £17.95

IMG_1779 Orford-landed large Dover Sole (before) with brown shrimps + capers @ £21.00

Dover Sole (after)

IMG_1785 Panna cotta cream pudding @ £6.95

Neals Yard cheeseboard @ £9.50: Ardrahan, Wigmore, Graham Kirkham’s Lancashire, Stichelton blue served on a Peters Yard crispbread with caramelised walnuts + greengage jelly. Plus we had a glass of white wine (W6) La Grange de Quatre Sous @ £9.50 each (perfect accompaniment)

IMG_1768 Sample menu for Trinity restaurant at The Crown & Castle Quick ref info: ~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5 ~ Type: British, seafood, roasts, gastro-pub food, ~ Address: The Crown & Castle, Orford, Suffolk, IP12 2LJ ~ Tel: 01394 450205 ~ Website + menus: Crown & Castle website ~ Photos on flickr: images of The Crown & Castle food

The Adnams brewery store at Southwold is well worth a visit. We picked up a limited edition collaboration brew that went on sale this weekend, The Herbalist, not quite a pale ale but nice and hoppy (a golden saison brewed with pale ale, pilsner and pale rye malts and hopped with Mosaic, Citra, Centennial and four herbs – pineapple weed, pineapple sage, lemon thyme and lemon verbena – to create a fruity beer with aromas of lemon, mango and pineapple and a spicy saison dry finish). IMG_1825 The Herbalist – limited edition Adnams beer

We also went to Aldeburgh on the coast (rocky beach) and had fish and chips from Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop (tiny fish, overpriced; distinctly average fish and chips) – one to skip if you’re short of time.