Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in Essex
Hardens guides have spent 30 years compiling reviews of the best Essex restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 157 restaurants in Essex and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Essex restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Essex Restaurants
1. The Bell Inn British, Modern restaurant in Horndon on the Hill High Rd - SS17
This fifteenth-century timber-framed favourite has been run by the same family for 80 years, and “really stands out for its service” and “remarkable consistency”. “They use local, seasonal ingredients and the menu is different on every visit – love it!”. The owners also run The Ostlers, a modern cocktail bar and grill a few doors away.
2. Smith's Brasserie British, Modern restaurant in Ongar Fyfield Rd - CM5
This “excellent seafood and fish restaurant” features “traditional/classic cooking”, and “its high turnover means the fish is never less than perfectly fresh”. It attracts a clientele of “Essex luminaries including Rod Stewart and Alan Sugar, who once described it as his ‘posh chippy’”: “a lot of the diners are a surprising shade of orange that is rarely observed in nature... but it’s still a confident recommendation for fish lovers!”
3. Haywards Restaurant British, Modern restaurant in Epping 111 Bell Common - CM16
“Some of the best fine dining in Essex” – Amanda & Jahdre’s “local favourite” is tucked away behind The Forest Gate Inn (owned by Amanda’s family). It has a large regular following from across the county for its “continuously excellent” cuisine: “it could rival any top London restaurant any day”.
4. The Square and Compasses British, Traditional restaurant in Fairstead Fuller Street - CM3
“Good cooking, with locally sourced ingredients that will not break the bank” attracts solid feedback for this mid-1600s inn, which has held on to attractive original features and taps nearby estates for its hearty game-centric fare (villagers themselves contribute the vegetables).
5. The Fox & Goose British, Traditional restaurant in Chelmsford Wyses Road, Cooksmill Green - CM1
Sibling to Folly Bistro in East Hanningfield (and with The Bakehouse coffee shop right next door); this Essex pub offers several dining areas - a mixture of old and new, including a lovely garden with a view for summer - and seasonal British gastropub fare.
6. The Folly British, Modern restaurant in East Hanningfield The Tye - CM3
The Folly Bistro a fully refurbished bistro pub, a stones throw away from Chelmsford and the A12 tucked just inside the countryside village of East Hanningfield. We have everything you would expect from a British Bistro, from house-made shortcrust pies, to fresh fish and steak...
7. The Pipe of Port British, Traditional restaurant in Southend-on-Sea 84 High St - SS1
This atmospheric bar and wine merchant – mahogany tables, sawdust floors – is “famous for its pies, but they also take their wines seriously and have a great selection to choose from” (40 wines by the glass and 150 by the bottle). Top Tip – “Watch out for their regular wine events and supper nights.”
8. Five Bells British, Modern restaurant in Colne Engaine 7 Mill Ln - CO6
2018 Review: Limited but upbeat feedback on this pub and restaurant in a village overlooking the Colne Valley, on the Essex/Suffolk borders, which wins praise as an all-round good-value destination; lovely garden in summer.
9. Galvin Green Man British, Traditional restaurant in Great Waltham Howe St - CM3
The Galvin brothers’ “very busy” fourteenth-century pub out in rural Essex – with glazed dining area attached – is particularly “good if the weather’s nice and you can sit outside” but inside can become “too noisy due to the lack of sound-deadening furnishings”. All reports, though, agree the cooking is “superb”. “There is always something going on, and one of their excellent regular events is a monthly food book club, featuring guest chefs”.
10. The Blue Strawberry International restaurant in Hatfield Peverel The Street - CM3
“I can always guarantee a special occasion that is fabulous and memorable”, declared a regular who recently celebrated his 60th birthday at this destination of two decades’ standing, just off the A12. Feedback has dwindled in recent times, however, so we’ve left a new rating till the next Diners Poll.
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