THE Shoulder of Mutton at Ford Street has been an iconic building along the busy Halstead Road for hundreds of years.

Although originally a private house dating back to the 14th century, historians believe it has been a hostelry since the time of Henry VIII but while in the past it was a stopping-off place for weary travellers, today I suspect many just view it through a speeding car window.

I'm ashamed to say that was me up until a few weeks ago, either on my way to the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel or to see our friends in Halstead. I used to stop at the narrow bridge traffic lights, go over the River Colne, and say to my wife, 'you know what, the Shoulder of Mutton looks like a nice place to go for a Sunday lunch. We should go there one day'.

When we finally did, I'm pleased to say, it was well worth the wait.

Now when it comes to a good old fashioned Sunday Lunch, you cannot beat a roast, and boy does the Shoulder of Mutton do a darn fine roast.

With a name like the Shoulder of Mutton, a reference to part of the pub once being a butcher's shop many many years ago, you would hope that it would but it's not just the meat this pub does so well.

The trimmings are a crucial part of the whole theatrics of the dish and with cauliflower cheese, mange tout, and mashed swede, as well as the crispiest of Yorkshire puddings and rich smooth gravy, this was the king of roasts.

I went for the mixed roast of beef and pork and it was absolutely delicious with perhaps my only complaint being the spuds which were, as is so often the case in many restaurants and pubs, just not crunchy enough.

Tradition being my theme for the day, I started off with the prawn cocktail, a childhood favourite of mine which, when done right, is pretty hard to beat in terms of starters.

Thankfully the Shoulder of Mutton's was ample, rich and creamy with just the right amount of tanginess.

My wife went instead for the Stilton and spinach filled mushroom, which, I was told, was also a tasty treat, packed full of lusty strong flavours.

Instead of the roast the wife went for another staple favourite of the country pub menu, fish and chips, which pretty much were exactly what you would expect in terms of light batter, chunky chips and moist flaky fish.

And so it only seemed appropriate that we should end our meal with something as English as maypoles, country gardens and the end of the pier show.

Enter the syrup sponge and the mighty bread and butter pudding!

Now while the bread and butter pudding was one of the lightest I've tried, as was the syrup sponge, it lacked a little on the sweet side as well as not enough vanilla. But the syrup sponge was divine, gooey and luscious, but as fluffy as a cumulus nimbus drifting across the summer sky.


Shoulder of Mutton,

Halstead Road, Fordham.

01206 243487

What We Ate:

Prawn cocktail with Rose Marie Sauce - £5.25

Stilton and spinach filled mushroom - £5.25

Mixed roast dinner £9.95

Fish and chips £9.95

Syrup sponge £5.25

Bread and butter pudding £5.25

Our Verdict:

Atmosphere 4

Food 4

Service 5

Value 4

Decor 4