A word of warning: Fowlers Farm, Braintree

Today was about family. The husband's family. And that means a trip to Essex. After a long drive across London and up the M11 we finally arrived in the long suffering land that is subject to much mockery. Mostly undeserved I hasten to add, I've come round to the land of Essex, sure you do come across the Essex cliche but mostly it is a beautiful county with lots going for it.

Sadly good eateries it does seem to lack, so if anyone has any good advice on that please help.

Lunch was to take place in a lovely looking pub called The Fowlers Farm with log fires and a full car park which I now know is all too deceptive. The lovely look pub, part of the Vintage Inn group, it is surrounded these days by roundabouts and busy ring roads, though once upon a time it would have been encircled by green fields and babbling brooks. The Fowlers Farm looked very promising from the outside, not letting you down as you stepped through the doors. The interior was cosy, warm and elegantly decorated as promised by the website. The rooms were buzzing with staff running around with precariously held plates, families and couples. Certainly not giving me any inkling of what was to follow.

We all opted for a traditional Sunday roast. Mine was the Pork loin with an imaginary herb crust as seen below. The crust was more of a smidgen, the roast potatoes soggy, the parsnips just a little too smashed up served with an anaemic undercooked pig in blanket. On a more positive note, the Yorkshire pudding was crisp and tasty with a good wine gravy. The vegetables were rather dull though in their eyes they were probably being quite experimental by adding a few broad beans to the mix. Below average would be my summary despite top marks for the effort of  presentation.

The Chef excelled himself with the puddings though I fear he had exhausted his creative presentational juices with the mains. As a sucker for old school puddings, I eagerly ordered Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding and Custard. It arrived a burnt square on a big plate with a small pot of luke warm powdered custard, you could actually taste the powder... The piece de resistence was the husband's Banoffee Cheesecake, a travesty of puddings. I kid you not, this was the worse pudding I've ever had the pleasure of being served anywhere. It tasted quite repugnant and how they think they can get away with serving this, I have no idea. With a banana chucked on the side, still with a bit of peel attached with the worst kind of whipped cream and artificial chocolate strewn over the plate, presumably as a decorative flourish, it still makes my stomach turn. I'm really not exaggerating.

Apart from the food service was swift despite the packed tables, and very friendly. Though after my complaint about the Banoffee mess on the husband's behalf, they couldn't get rid of us fast enough...

Nevertheless the intended lazy pub lunch was had, where noisy Matilda and her cousin played games and drew whilst we chatted and joked. Despite the lacklustre cuisine the pub managed to play host to a cosy, fun afternoon due more to us than them.