Not just a one-trick pony, Crofters wine bar delivers on food as well as a great pub atmosphere.

Often with gastropubs it’s hard to strike a balance between great cuisine while retaining the liveliness of a popular watering hole.

Crofters, situated in an 18th century cottage off the High Street in Witham, has existed in different guises for more than 25 years and manages to do just that.

Popping out for a Saturday night meal and a catch-up with a friend, the venue was the perfect place to socialise and eat tasty food.

We entered through the pub side of the building, where there was a steady stream of weekend drinkers having fun and making the most of the good weather.

When we reached the restaurant at the other end, the atmosphere was more low key.

The decor retained many of the original features, including dark timber- beamed high ceilings and an open fireplace.

Glancing over the menu, it was clear the focus at Crofters is certainly on the food.

The menu was diverse without being over-complicated and there was an emphasis on seasonal food.

For our starters we were in the mood for seafood.

I went for the prawn skewers with chilli jam and, although the portion was a little on the small side, the prawns were succulent and the jam had just the right amount of a kick.

Feeling adventurous, my friend decided to try oysters for the first time and she wasn’t disappointed when they arrived.

They were fresh and tasty, complete with tabasco and lemon wedges.

We couldn’t resist the description of the fish of the day the waitress gave us and we both ordered seabass with on trend vegetable of the moment samphire.

The fish came with a crispy skin and was balanced, and for me made even more delicious by the bed of piping hot, salty samphire.

To end our evening with a bang, we shared the selection of mini-desserts.

Our conversation took an abrupt pause as we concentrated on diving into the puddings, of which the bakewell tart and chocolate torte were mouth-wateringly good, appearing alongside a tangy compote and fruity crumble.

Louise Mackenzie

What we ate

Half a dozen oysters: £7.50

Prawn skewers with chilli jam: £5.50

Pan-fried seabass with samphire: £14

Chef’s mini-desserts: £6.50

Our verdict/p>

Atmosphere ****

Food ****

Decor ****

Value ****

Service *****