With its smart yellow-painted exterior and exposed timbers, this lovely old inn is independently owned and there are two informal bars, an open dining room, a snug oak-panelled lounge and three open fires. So take your pick of where to enjoy your chosen refreshment, be it a pint of Adnams Broadside or Aspall Harry Sparrow cider; for wine drinkers, the choice extends beyond two dozen served by the glass. Locally sourced seasonal ingredients drive the daily-changing menu of traditional Mediterranean-style dishes, many with a strong Italian influence. Two AA Rosettes have been awarded for tastebud-tingling dishes such as venison casserole, Chianti, swede, wet polenta and thyme; and line-caught Mersea cod fillet roasted with marjoram and capers, chickpeas, Swiss chard, tomatoes and mint. In summer, head to the suntrap terrace and walled garden overlooked by the church tower.