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The 3 Best Pubs in South East Essex

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by Jennifer Walter (subscribe)
Jennifer is a busy, busy bee.
Published March 28th 2017
Drink Up
The King William

This one is a little gem that stood completely derelict for a couple of years before re-opening. And when we say "little gem" – we totally mean it. The King William IV on London Road, in Braintree, Essex is actually a really tiny pub. Despite its size, this pub is incredibly welcoming and its diminutive nature simply adds to its homely feel. It's a classic pub interior with a few interesting artworks that add a modern twist to the dιcor. Look out for the King William painting with the landlord's face imposed on top!

Very much a local pub, you can expect exactly that – locals. And although it's a close knit group, both landlady and landlord are friendly and accommodating. Most interesting, perhaps, is the ever rotating selection of ales and ciders, many of which the King Willy (as it is affectionately known to those in the know) brews itself under the Brewery name Moody Goose.

They're obviously doing something right because they were voted cider pub of the year in 2013 and are consistently listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. If you're struggling to find a nook to sit down in, they've got a huge beer garden that more than makes up for the small interior – and though they save space for you to enjoy your pint by not offering hot food (where would your elbows go?) they host exceptionally good beer festivals that often have a local Pizzeria Van (Nonna's) catering their events which provides a perfect lining for those interesting brews.

The Monkey
the monkey terling rayleigh arms
Modern interior, without being too fussy / Image Source:

The Monkey at the Rayleigh Arms is so named because it was, in fact, originally the Rayleigh Arms. Situated on Owl Hill, in Terling, Essex, this pub has had a stunning facelift that is perfectly classy without seeming so snobbish that it puts off your average pub-goer. A selection of concealed and not-so-hidden monkey ornaments keeps the interior light.

Their beers and ales are perhaps not the most adventurous but they make up for that with an extensive selection of interesting gins, including various flavours from the Tiptree Jam Factory (another place worth visiting, if you happen to be in the Essex area). The food is classic pub fare – but done brilliantly and with little flairs here and there that make for a more interesting meal.

They source local produce wherever possible – and the menus rotate frequently enough to remain interesting – if it's still there, the scotch egg starter is not to be missed. Even though it seems a small thing, the staff are probably the nicest, most down-to-earth staff, in any pub, in the whole of Essex. They genuinely welcome you in and will chat to you about anything. This is also a dog friendly pub, should you consider taking any fluffy companions.

The only downside is that this pub is pretty much in the middle of nowhere so if you ARE planning a skinful (we know you are, don't lie) then make sure you've got a way to get home pre-planned.

The Compasses
the ridley brewery tap the compasses littley green
Image Source:

This is one pub you feel might be exactly the same as it was when it was Ridley's Brewery Tap many years ago. Completely family run, this classic pub is the perfect place to enjoy some slow Sunday afternoons, chatting absolute rubbish and watching the bees. They've got an ever-changing rotation of ales, beers, perry and cider, and the most traditional interior you can imagine. Our particular favourites are the old signs, which are original ("we request that friend's do not play for money" next to the dart board, and Ridley's signs that hark back to the pub's initial name and Brewery status).

They don't have an extensive menu because they focus on pretty much one type of food – the Huffer. Never heard of it? If you're not from Essex, we forgive you. It seems to be a thing only we have (although there is a Kentish Huffkin, which sounds similar).

Imagine a bloody massive, triangular, dense bread roll, stuffed with two inch thick fillings. The Compasses has a selection of no-fuss options, including avocado & bacon, Prawn, or the O.T.T – "over the top" – sausage, cheese, bacon and mushrooms. Even though they focus mostly on this snack (SNACK? They're bloody huge!) they do a delicious pate, a cheese board, and a few other bits and pieces if a lip-smacking, giant, traditional sandwich isn't your bag.

They've also got a wide selection of pub snacks and sweets, and if you order crisps and a pickled egg at the same time, they know what to do. They're big on local walks and bike rides too, so if you are keen you can purchase a distinctive Compasses cycling shirt.

This ones not to be missed. In fact why not incorporate a days outing with all three of these superb Essex pubs?
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Why? Because now summer is coming, everyone needs a good pub in their life
When: all open from 3pm onwards
Phone: 01376 567755 , 01245 233113, 01245 362308
Where: South East Essex, UK
Cost: Low to medium, depending on food.
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