The Axe and Compasses in Aythorpe Roding won the Essex Food and Drink Award for best pub restaurant in 2012. They can certainly be considered a gastropub. They are open from 9am for breakfast. They also keep a selection of excellent beers on tap for real ale fans.
Note: Not to be confused with the Axe and Compasses in Arkesden, which is just 20 miles to the NW, and was also nominated in the Essex Food and Drink Awards !
Aythorpe Roding is about 15 minutes from Chelmsford and Great Dunmow. The Axe sits on a cross roads and is completely surrounded by Essex countryside. A traditional pub with thatched roof which was actually closed for some time before being renovated in 2007. The pub has open fires in the winter and a good beer garden.
They have 3 menus; daily, evening and Sunday. On the daily menu you can start the day with a bacon buttie or go for the Axe Breakfast. For lunch there are mussels soups, fishcakes, pan friend pigeon and a selection of pies, as well as the usual steaks, burgers, and chicken dishes. The evening menu is similar to the daily but with more variety. For dessert fans the Axe has knickerbockerglory, Baileys crème brulee and Chocolate brownies. Overall, an excellent choice for food.
The Axe considers its beer the main feature of the pub, even though the food is top quality. They always have a choice of 6 guest beers from local craft brewers on cask. They also serve real scrumpy cider.