CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Dinner at The Orange Tree, Sawbridgeworth

PUBLISHED: 14:54 24 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:01 24 August 2015

Stuffed mushroom

Stuffed mushroom

Archant

The warm weather lures food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne up-country for a not-so-traditional Sunday lunch

Home-smoked Chicken with Chargrilled Corn on the Cob, Chorizo & Chilli SalsaHome-smoked Chicken with Chargrilled Corn on the Cob, Chorizo & Chilli Salsa

Once upon a time, chefs hated Sunday lunch. There’s not much you can do with the old roast-and-two-veg combo to demonstrate any sort of flair. At least there wasn’t. How times change. The combination of growing demand for what is possibly the most popular eating-out experience, customers who know a lot more about food than they used to and the arrival of a new generation of kitchen professionals with access to better and different ingredients has ushered in a revolution.

With such thoughts in mind and not having had Sunday lunch other than at home recently, I followed a friend’s recommendation, the fact it was a bright sunny day and a tempting website, and headed to Sawbridgeworth and the Orange Tree pub. Of the three factors, it was the website that swung it with its talk of a foodies club, regular chef guest nights – the most recent featured Masterchef semi-finalist Saira Hamilton – and enthusiasm for fresh and seasonal ingredients. The online menu also promised rather more than roast and two veg, although they were there too. The overall message was that this was somewhere serious about food.

From the outside, the Orange Tree, run by Tom and Sam Perry, looks like your average village pub, albeit a very smart and freshly-painted one. It is down a country lane, there is a large garden with umbrellas and tables and the basic architecture of the building is reassuringly familiar. Inside, following the lead given by the modern sign, all is bright and cheerful. The large bar has been retained and with it several proper ales as well as guest beers, but the interior is done out in pale colours set off by proper lighting and, in summer anyway, lots of flowers.

Then there’s the food. If the heart sank on seeing among the seven starters the dread words ‘prawns in Marie Rose sauce’, it resurfaced rapidly as we read on and discovered they were served in a tortilla basket with Lollo Rosso and cucumber. Rather more exotic was ‘cheeky squid’, otherwise cods’ cheeks with squid pieces in cracked black pepper breadcrumbs with salt, thyme, chilli and lemon. In the event and spoiled for choice, we opted for home-smoked chicken (£7) with chargrilled corn on the cob, chorizo and chilli salsa; and mushroom on toast (left, £7), a baked field mushroom filled with artichoke pesto and topped with a poached free-range egg. Again, it was the clever mix of ingredients that did it in both cases, the smoky chicken enlivened by the spicy chorizo and chilli and the earthy mushroom given a charge by the zingy basil in the pesto.

The Orange Tree interiorThe Orange Tree interior

For her main course, my friend across the table couldn’t resist the traditional path and seized upon the roast beef (£13), complete like all the roasts with duck-fat roasties, a large Yorkshire pud, vegetables and what was described as rich reduction gravy. She couldn’t detect any variance from normal gravy but the meal passed the ultimate accolade in that she said it was ‘just like home-made’. My eyes meanwhile had been taken by the guinea fowl three ways (top right, £16), featuring pan-roasted breast, poached thigh and confit leg served with smoked bacon, rainbow chard, dauphinoise potatoes and a pan reduction sauce. Good roast beef (as that across the table was) requires skill, of course, but this needs more; suffice to say the Orange Tree rose to the challenge, producing a satisfying and filling plateful presented like the other dishes in full designer-chef mode, twirls and all.

This being Sunday, we treated ourselves to traditional desserts (£6 each) in the form of a warm chocolate fondant with stewed strawberries, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce (guess where that went), and the fruit crumble of the day, which turned out to be rhubarb, served with home-made vanilla-pod custard. There was no reason to complain about either, so we won’t.

It’s worth noting that the Orange Tree boasts that everything on the menu is cooked in-house ‘from the home-made focaccia to the coffee biscuits’. That and an obviously enthusiastic following might be part of the reason for the award to the pub this year for the third year running of online ratings company TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. It puts the Orange Tree in the top-performing 10 per cent of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor and is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from contributors to the agency’s website. Enough said.

>>>

The Orange TreeThe Orange Tree

The cost of this Sunday lunch for two was £66.50, including two pints of beer and a small bottle of Prosecco. Service is extra.

This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

>>>

BOOK A TABLE

Warm chocolate fondant served with stewed strawberries, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauceWarm chocolate fondant served with stewed strawberries, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce

The Orange Tree

166 West Road

Sawbridgeworth CM21 0BP

01279 722485

theorangetreepub.com

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

One of St Albans’ newest restaurant exudes an exciting confidence

Read more
December 2018
Friday, December 7, 2018

Take the whole family to one of these lovely Hertfordshire pubs, including your four-legged friend

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Come and celebrate with The Three Tuns this festive season!

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

Join us for Christmas at the Bushel & Strike.

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

The Crosse family at Ickleford’s Holme Farm has been rearing turkeys since 1964. With the rise of meat-free diets, how is the traditional Christmas bird faring?

Read more
December 2018
Monday, November 26, 2018

The Black Horse, Brent Pelham shares its hearty steak and ale pie recipe that’s perfect for winter

Read more
November 2018
Monday, November 26, 2018

Open fires, hearty food, local ales and a welcoming atmosphere. These are the things that make for the cosiest times. Find out where you can find all these things and more this winter with our Hertfordshire pubs guide

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Located in the picturesque village of Ashwell, between Royston and Baldock in the county of Hertfordshire. The Three Tuns is a quintessential English inn.

Read more
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

As winter closes in, find a spot in one of these Hertfordshire restaurants for a Christmas feast or winter party

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

If you don’t fancy slaving over a hot fire this year, head to one of these restaurants for a festive feast on Christmas Day

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search