Truth be told, The Kings Head wasn’t a fortuitous find I stumbled upon; I’m here visiting a local mate who lives in the area. They suggested that this staunch landmark pub in Chipping – an olde-worlde part of town in Essex, full of narrow cobbled streets, not too far from the greenery Epping Forest is the place to be. It’s a little way out where I’d like to play, but itches the curiosity I have of untapped manors. It’s advertised as being around since 1679 and is the oldest brick-fronted building in Ongar. Inside the 100 cover boozer is a nice lounge made for loitering, an open fire and nearby bar sets the scene. There’s also a josper grill and wood burning pizza oven. If like me, you see people watching as a spectator sport, you might get jaded as there’s only yummy mummies along with couples who might be their grandparents.
I was driving so only the finest juice will do.
Pork belly bites and crackling £4.50 with apple sauce is a snack worth seeking out here. They seem to be triple cooked so there give off this filling shattering crunch at first then they become soft and disappear, then you’d want to do it all over again.
“Saltimbocca scotch egg” £7 was a blend of sausage meat with prosciutto punched up with aromatic sage wrapped around a soft boiled egg. For good measure there is a slathering hollandaise on its crispy shell.
Pumpkin ravioli £6 is something a generally can’t resist and they do it good here. The sauce was a majestic thing of sweet chilli notes, crunchy hazelnuts and the perfume of sage through the nasal passage.
Seeing beef brisket cottage pie £14 on the menu was too inviting to ignore. The pie came in its own pot and was left to linger in the oven until the potato lid was a golden shade of brown. On paper the dish sold itself, but the stew within the pie lacked body and seasoning. The stalks of rosemary weren’t too appetising either. It was an “almost but not quite dish”. The vegetables that it came with only got a singe in the oven, but not a lot else – they deserved more love and seasoning.
When did I go? Feb 2017
The damage: Expect to pay £25-£30 per head with a drink.
The good: There are some majestic nibbles and starters here that can’t be missed such as the pork belly & scotch egg. The space itself is, with its rustic wood panelling and sunlight, is a good place to be. It’s worth sticking your nose in if you’re in the area.
The bad: It’s a shame that the main event took a wrong steer but it wouldn’t take that much effort to correct.
Would I go again? It’s on my radar if I’m in the area.
Address: 177 High Street, Chipping Ongar, Essex, CM5 9JG