“I’m not sure,” I whined, exhausted. “It’s an awfully long way to go…”
My friend was trying to convince me to review a pub near his house in Shenfield. It’s a bit of a trek there at the best of times – it’s on the proper rail network, for goodness’ sake, not even the underground. And at the weekends it’s even worse, with engineering works and bus replacement services up the wazoo. I’m not at all convinced by this place.
“Mate,” my friend reassured me, “it’s got six rotating guest ales.”
Ah. Now that got my attention.
So I made the epic journey from the comfort of travel zone 2 to beyond zone 6, to the wild and dangerous wasteland that is Essex. One day, Shenfield will be the best connected town in the county, with Crossrail services running straight from there through central London every few minutes. For now, however, getting there is a pain in the arse. My discomfort was only intensified when I bumped into my Company Secretary on the way there. I do my best to avoid the most important people at work while I’m there, so making awkward small talk with the second biggest cheese in the business was not the most enjoyable start to my Friday night.
Nonetheless, I persevered and at long last made it to the Hutton Junction, a cosy, old-fashioned pub just a short walk from the station.
Walking in, I’m greeted by a bar lined with an impressive row of pumps. Three ales this side, with the promise of three more round on the side bar. “They’re all different from when I was in here a couple of weeks ago,” my friend informs me, and I rub my hands with glee. Then my face fell.
Greene bloody King.
I could go on for days about how much I dislike Greene King (in fact, I’ll probably make a post about it later). For now, all you need to know is that their beer is atrocious.
Understandably, I was annoyed to find that two of these “rotating guest ales” were, in fact, Greene King beers. Nevertheless, there were four actual guests left to try, which my friend and I worked through with gusto.
So how was it? The beer was decent, though at £4.40 a pint you’d be forgiven for thinking you hadn’t left London. We didn’t try the food, though the menu was extensive with an attractive range of homemade pies to celebrate what is apparently “National Pie Week” (surely that should be every week?) and roasts on Sundays. The decor feels a bit dated, and the garden was depressing, but I suppose you can’t have it all.
I also have to dock points for the lack of a toilet seat in the gents, as I dislike having to balance my rump directly on freezing cold porcelain. Sort it out, Hutton Junction.
On balance, Hutton Junction offers a good beer selection, good value food, and the atmosphere of a traditional English town pub in the 1990s. Definitely worth popping into on your way to the station, but not worth the trip out from London.