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  • Greenery | Culture | History | Nightlife

    Nightlife

    Festival Leisure Park

    Affectionately known as ‘Bas Vegas’ by the locals, Festival Leisure Park is located in the north of Basildon. The complex is owned by Norwich Union and offers all the amenities of modern life with several restaurants, a bowling and arcade centre, two hotels, a 12-screen cinema and two premium health clubs. For those who want to escape the bright lights, however, Festival Leisure Park offers the best of both worlds with the green acres and lakes of Gloucester Park just a short stroll away. Festival Leisure Park, Basildon.


    The Headle

    yThe Headley is situated on the semi-suburban Warley Common, overlooking ducks on the lake. Originally an inn, it was rebuilt in the late ’60s as a bar and was a Country Carvery prior to the major refurbishment in 2005. Now a gastro-pub under the management of chef-proprietor Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House in Cambridge, The Headley has left behind the frills and fancies of two-Michelin-starred cuisine and gone for a menu of British classics executed with flair. Inside are bar areas with large slouchy couches and open fires, dining rooms boasting flagstone flooring and a host of nooks and crannies perfect for candle-lit dining. Headley Common, Great Warley, Brentwood (01227 216 104/enquiries@theheadley.co.uk). Bar opens Mon-Sat 12noon-11pm and Sun 12noon-10.30pm with food served Mon-Sat 12noon-3pm and 6pm-9.30pm and Sun 12noon-5pm.

    The Grove

    A journey through Essex wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the coast – specifically the idyllic shoreline at Leigh-on-Sea. This waterside restaurant serves up simple and tasty grub – mains use seasonal ingredients, and are listed on the blackboards, plus there’s a good range of salads and sandwiches. It’s the setting that makes it special, particularly if you’ve managed to catch a sunny day and a table out on the decking, looking out over the sea. An after-dinner stroll along the harbour and into the Old Town (south of the railway station) is definitely recommended. The Grove, 4 Belton Way, Leigh-on-Sea (01702 471 383). Open daily 12noon-5pm, Thur-Sat until 11pm.

    The Cock Inn

    As featured in Jamie Oliver’s TV series, The Cock Inn is located just outside the small market town of Rochford, in an affluent country area. The building was originally a farmhouse in the 1700s but has been extended over the years and given a variety of different names. With a brewery to the back, the venue still boasts an ‘olde-worlde’ look with oak beams and old-fashioned fireplaces. It prides itself on providing a safe, comfortable venue, not spoiled by pool and other bar games, and is popular with women and families. The food is a mixture of traditional British and modern cuisine along with an extensive range of wines and real ales. There is also a new patio area and a massive beer garden outside.The Cock Inn, Beazley End, Braintree (01371 850 566). Open daily 12 noon-11pm; food served 12 noon-9.30pm.

    The Sun Inn

    The Sun Inn has morphed from run-down village boozer to smart country inn, its cheery yellow façade concealing a mix of local pub, informal restaurant and boutique hotel. With open fires, oak beams, original artwork and character furniture, this pub has charm – even if it is a little mismatched. The food is modern British with strong Mediterranean influences, with a menu governed mainly by the seasons, utilising locally sourced produce from individual fruit and vegetable growers, meat breeders and fishermen. The Sun Inn also lives up to its name with a cheery terrace and walled garden for drinking and dining out in the sunshine.The Sun Inn, High St, Dedham (01206 323 351). Opens Mon-Fri 12noon-2.30pm, Mon-Thur 6.30-9.30pm, Sat, Sun 12noon-3pm, Fri, Sat 6.30pm-1pm.

    The Mistley Thorn

    Built in 1723, The Mistley Thorn stands on the site of an older pub in which Matthew Hopkins, the notorious Witchfinder General, tried and condemned to death dozens of local women during the English Civil War. Located in the centre of the historic village of Mistley, it was the first non-smoking pub in Essex and also the first eating establishment in the county to be awarded the Michelin Guide’s prestigious Bib Gourmand. The Mistley Thorn, High St, Mistley (01206 392 821). Open Mon-Fri 12noon-3pm, 6.30-11pm, Sun 12noon-11pm.HIDDEN GEM

    The Alma

    Attracting a predominantly local crowd, The Alma is a gastropub offering a menu ranging from light ciabattas to a more substantial pot-roasted pheasant and herb dumplings. It also boasts a contemporary dining room at the back, serving great modern-European cooking. The Alma is off the beaten track and hard to find, but it’s worth the hunt as the food is home cooked and to die for. It’s your typical, cosy country pub with a nice conservatory area at the back, perfect during the summer months. The Alma, 37 Arbour Lane, Chelmsford (01245 256 783). Open Mon-Sat 12noon-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm, Sun 12noon-9.30pm.
    Additional research: Crystal Wilde

    Greenery | Culture | History | Nightlife

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yThe Headley is situated on the semi-suburban Warley Common, overlooking ducks on the lake. Originally an inn, it was rebuilt in the late ’60s as a bar and was a Country Carvery prior to the major refurbishment in 2005. Now a gastro-pub under the management of chef-proprietor Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House in Cambridge, The Headley has left behind the frills and fancies of two-Michelin-starred cuisine and gone for a menu of British classics executed with flair. Inside are bar areas with large slouchy couches and open fires, dining rooms boasting flagstone flooring and a host of nooks and crannies perfect for candle-lit dining. A journey through Essex wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the coast – specifically the idyllic shoreline at Leigh-on-Sea. This waterside restaurant serves up simple and tasty grub – mains use seasonal ingredients, and are listed on the blackboards, plus there’s a good range of salads and sandwiches. It’s the setting that makes it special, particularly if you’ve managed to catch a sunny day and a table out on the decking, looking out over the sea. An after-dinner stroll along the harbour and into the Old Town (south of the railway station) is definitely recommended. As featured in Jamie Oliver’s TV series, The Cock Inn is located just outside the small market town of Rochford, in an affluent country area. The building was originally a farmhouse in the 1700s but has been extended over the years and given a variety of different names. With a brewery to the back, the venue still boasts an ‘olde-worlde’ look with oak beams and old-fashioned fireplaces. It prides itself on providing a safe, comfortable venue, not spoiled by pool and other bar games, and is popular with women and families. The food is a mixture of traditional British and modern cuisine along with an extensive range of wines and real ales. There is also a new patio area and a massive beer garden outside.The Sun Inn has morphed from run-down village boozer to smart country inn, its cheery yellow façade concealing a mix of local pub, informal restaurant and boutique hotel. With open fires, oak beams, original artwork and character furniture, this pub has charm – even if it is a little mismatched. The food is modern British with strong Mediterranean influences, with a menu governed mainly by the seasons, utilising locally sourced produce from individual fruit and vegetable growers, meat breeders and fishermen. The Sun Inn also lives up to its name with a cheery terrace and walled garden for drinking and dining out in the sunshine.Built in 1723, The Mistley Thorn stands on the site of an older pub in which Matthew Hopkins, the notorious Witchfinder General, tried and condemned to death dozens of local women during the English Civil War. Located in the centre of the historic village of Mistley, it was the first non-smoking pub in Essex and also the first eating establishment in the county to be awarded the Michelin Guide’s prestigious Bib Gourmand. Attracting a predominantly local crowd, The Alma is a gastropub offering a menu ranging from light ciabattas to a more substantial pot-roasted pheasant and herb dumplings. It also boasts a contemporary dining room at the back, serving great modern-European cooking. The Alma is off the beaten track and hard to find, but it’s worth the hunt as the food is home cooked and to die for. It’s your typical, cosy country pub with a nice conservatory area at the back, perfect during the summer months. Greenery | Culture | History | Nightlife

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