Review: Local fish, cheese and meat are all in abundance on the menu at The King’s Head, Hadleigh
- Credit: Archant
Once upon a time, the only food in pubs was peanuts or pork scratchings.
Love them or hate them, the food revolution in Britain’s pubs over the past 20 years has seen a seismic shift in what’s on offer – and what drinkers and diners expect.
The King’s Head in Hadleigh is one of those pubs. A pub that has had to shift its focus from beer and bar nibbles to top-notch pub grub, and well-attended beer festivals.
I had no expectation of the pub, had heard no reviews (good or bad) and had resisted the urge to Google the menu before we arrived for our evening meal.
I’m glad I did resist – the menu was a serious conversation killer. In the best possibly way.
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It was crammed with all the things I really like to eat. Fish, chilli, cheese, meat and a big dollop of local and seasonal.
With 11 starters – and this count doesn’t include the specials board – there was ample to tempt. It took me a good few minutes of put-down-the-wine-to-concentrate thinking time to decide.
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I opted for the tempura king prawns with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. The prawns were succulent and big, while the batter was crispy and light. The dish came with a good-sized salad – not your token green trimming – and a tangy dressing. It was a winner.
My friend had the prawn and crayfish cocktail, which I eyed enviously. Loitering with my fork held mid-air over her side of the table worked a treat, and she let me try her dish. It was a great sized-portion with meaty chunks of seafood. No scrimping going on.
With two clear plates, half a bottle of wine guzzled and the did-you-knows and have-you-heards exhausted, our main courses arrived.
Sticking to a fishy theme, I was served a pan-fried sea trout with a bacon, pea and prawn risotto. It’s a dish I know well – an old-favourite I’ll often choose on a menu.
It was a fantastic looking dish and the smell was amazing – I was sold before I’d even lifted my fork. The delicately smoked trout was perfectly cooked, with a fabulous crispy skin, and perfectly complimented the creamy rice. The salty bacon cut through the flavours and texture and who doesn’t love a prawn to liven up a dish?
My friend, who had already declared on the way to the pub that she fancied scampi and chips, rather predictably had scampi and chips for her main. Again, there was no scrimping with the size of the scampi, served with chips, a mountain of peas and a generous salad.
Our empty plates were testament to the quality of the food – and just how greedy we were.
Casually tugging at our jean waistlines, wishing we could undo the top button, we both declared we couldn’t eat another thing.
Then promptly opened the dessert menu.
My chocolate fondant stole the show. It was gooey and lovely and chocolatey. The white chocolate ice cream on the side was too good. I certainly wasn’t about to share that pudding.
Rather fitting with Wimbledon this week, my friend had a strawberry shortbread stack with Chantilly cream. It was such a pretty plate, with an amazing strawberry sorbet on the side, so I was told.
The pub is very simple – no pomp or finery in its decor or menu – but with fabulously straightforward and delicious food.
“Our customers expect nothing less”, said landlord of 11 years, Mike Ager. “We have had to develop with the times, there is a real emphasis on food – and the quality our customers expect of us.
His simple mantra: “We serve quality ale and quality food.”
It does indeed. It’s a pub very much worth a visit – ideally with elasticated trousers.