I just had to sample this, and booked a table the first chance I could.
Last night, my cars headlights briefly lit up the exterior of The Headley through the torrential rain as I pulled into the car park. First thought, It's a pleasant looking pub.
Hurrying inside, to avoid the downpour, the interior was also very nice - battered, comfy leather sofas and tables to the left a Bar ahead, high ceilings, very light and airy, the heavy wooden furniture evident all appearing to have a Chicken motif carved into it - nice touch . After a bit of an initial wait, we were told our table would be five minutes - we were shown to one of the comfy sofas and our drinks order was taken and brought over.
After the briefest of waits we were shown to our table and got our first look at the menu. I went for a starter of Ham Hock Terrine with homemade piccalilli on warm toast. The GF went for North Atlantic Sardines on toast with a rich tomato sauce.
My starter was great, the Ham Hock terrine being a really generous slab, thick and meaty - very tasty. The homemade Piccalilli was a nice touch, and stood head and shoulders above it's shop bought brethren. The only problem with this dish for me is that the toast was barely toasted. Perhaps that's the way it's meant to be? Not entirely sure. Overall the starter was a winner, barely toasted bread or not.
My GF's starter on the other hand, North Atlantic Sardines - stank, but in a good way I'm sure. I'm not a fan of oily fish at all, the smell was incredible but she tucked in with gusto, again I think the toast could have done with being a bit more errr...toasted. Nevertheless, she seemed to enjoy it.
Studying the Dessert menu, unable to choose I asked the waitress what her favourite was, "As she'd obviously tried them all". I like to pose this question, it normally pays dividends as the staff have indeed tried them all and 'mostly' steer you towards the better dishes. Occasionally they have no opinion, which I find amazing and is normally just another milestone in a meal with awful service. But on this occasion, I was trumped. It was the friendly Waitresses first night, she hadn't tried any of them but speculated that sticky toffee pudding had appeared to be popular. Seeing as I was leaning towards the sticky toffee pudding option anyway, I didn't need much persuading. (Honestly, If it's got toffee, syrup or treacle in it - I'm ordering it without fail).
And it was good, very light, an unusual spiciness which I think was cumin - the only problem was the miserly amount of toffee sauce offered, and the equally miserly portion of clotted cream. I speculate as it was last knockings, I got what was left. Despite this, it was pretty good - not the best Ive eaten by a long chalk, but competent.
Overall I enjoyed my meal at The Headley, and will visit again. Service was friendly and pretty fast. The prices are extremely reasonable, (Total cost of Meal for two, not including drinks - £40) the Menu extols exactly the traditional British food that I want to see in a Gastro Pub. It's a shame that the small details kind of let the side down, the un-toasted 'toast', completely unseasoned mash, the miserly portions of toffee and clotted cream with the pudding, but these are fairly minor quibbles, maybe they were having a bit of an 'off night' in the kitchen- it didn't really spoil my enjoyment of the meal, being more surprised by the 'misses' as most aspects of the meal were 'hits'. With a bit more attention to detail this place could be incredible.
Great Warley, Brentwood.
Essex. CM13 3HS