The Folly – East Hanningfield
Since moving to South Woodham Ferrers some twenty nine years ago, Val and I have probably driven through East Hanningfield – without any exaggeration – a thousand times.
Over the years we’ve driven past the village’s two pubs and witnessed their changes.
In recent years the ‘Three Horseshoes’ has begat ‘Vita Bella’ and ‘The Windmill’ has become ‘The Folly’. While this could be construed as positive, in culinary terms, it leaves a small Essex village without a traditional local ‘pub’, a subject (as a beer writer) close to my heart.
Despite this, on a sunny Saturday afternoon I drove the few miles from South Woodham Ferrers to East Hanningfield to try ‘The Folly’. It’s situated on ‘The Tye’ which is the name the road (Bicknacre Road or East Hanningfield Road depending on your route) takes as it traverses the village – it’s complicated in an olde English sort of way.
Anyway, most maps and Sat Navs (as we overheard from a couple of fellow lunchers) still recognise ‘The Folly’ as ‘The Windmill’ – history eh?
Outside ‘The Folly’ has been decorated in a dark grey, with ‘mushroom’ grey ‘highlights’. The car park, realistically sized, is laid with noisy pea gravel. There are half a dozen bench tables outside for sunny days.
Inside it’s a little gloomy, with dark carpets at furniture, trendy lighting, reclaimed wood and retro prints; not unpleasant, but a little on the gloomy side, even on a sunny day.
We were shown to our table and presented with our menus, printed, somewhat trendily, on brown paper.
The lunch-time menu is a table d’hôte offering six starters and nine main courses, coupled with a selection of daily specials.
Two lunchtime courses for £12.50, three courses for £15.50.
We both opted for local (Maldon) ‘Lambton & Jackson’ smoked salmon, served with walnut bread, capers, horse-radish and a few salad leaves. Both the smoked salmon and the horseradish were mild and delicate, verging on the bland, but not unpleasant.
For main courses my wife opted for Sea Bass fillets (with crab & prawn cream) but requested ‘hand-cut chips with truffle mayo’ rather than crushed new potatoes, while I chose the burger and fries, and requested that the burger be served ‘medium’.
Val declared the Sea Bass, sauce, hand-cut chips and truffle mayo to be delicious. And having dunked a few of my fries in the truffle mayo I would struggle to disagree.
For my part, my burger – served with cheese, tomato and red onion – was served “as medium as the chef could manage”; a triumph of pragmatism over ‘elven safety’. It was moist (not dripping) and very, very tasty.
Drinks wise, Val enjoyed a large glass of the house Chardonnay, while I enjoyed a couple of pints of ‘Folly IPA’ brewed (presumably for ‘The Folly’) by the Brentwood Brewery Company.
There’s an ‘optional’ 10% service charge added to the bills, but either way, all in, and including the service charge there was change from forty five quid.
Oh, and no WiFi, and a woeful telephone signal, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
While I commiserate with the locals of East Hanningfield for losing their local pub, we residents of nearby South Woodham Ferrers now have a pleasant enough bistro (almost) on our doorsteps.