Shaw Farm, like so many rural hostelries, has had a chequered past. It recent years it’s been rebranded (or reformatted) a number of times, these days it’s a ‘Vintage Inn’ – one of Mitchell & Butlers brands – like the ‘Colney Fox‘ and ‘Running Mare’ that I’ve visited and reviewed in the past. It’s now ‘The Shaw Farm Inn’.
As you might expect from a pub that’s only a mile or so from home, we visited Shaw Farm a few times over the last thirty years in its various incarnations, and frankly, found it lacking in atmosphere. I figured it was time to see how its ‘Vintage Inn’ persona shapes up.
The décor is pretty much as I anticipated, although I struggled to see any major change from its last incarnation. It’s all rustic wooden beams and artfully mismatched chairs. I presume that the restaurant was busy, as the car park was pretty full.
The bar area ‘for drinks and casual dining’ was about one third full when I arrived, just before two on a Saturday lunchtime.
I grabbed a menu and waited at the bar, for several minutes. To be honest I was seconds away from walking out when a server arrived at the bar to take my order. I was alone (I may be writing more ‘solo’ reviews in the future) and ordered a beef burger and a beer, there’s a selection of lagers and four ales (Doom Bar, Reverend James, Hobgoblin Gold and another that escapes my memory); there’s a ‘whisky wall’ and a selection of English gins.
I took a seat at a table and my meal was brought speedily.
The burger was served in a brioche bun, on a token salad (lettuce, tomato, mayo) and topped with smoked cheddar cheese and a thick (quarter inch) rasher of “ginger-beer glazed thick-cut streaky bacon”. It was accompanied by a small tub of chunky, triple -cooked, fries and the tiniest ramekin of the green burger relish I remember so fondly from the eighties.
Whatever happened to that stuff?
The burger itself was well cooked, still slightly juicy (I’ve given up trying to get a burger cooked to my taste outside Byron (or The Anchor at Hullbridge)), both the cheese and the bacon really enhanced the flavour of the burger.
Observing other diners, most orders were brought promptly, while the bar was frequently left unattended; table clearing was somewhat tardy, so one must presume that the restaurant was indeed busy.
Overall, I found the ‘Shaw Farm Inn’ to be still lacking in atmosphere, but the food was okay.
I won’t have a problem returning in the future, but it may be a while; there are so many restaurants opening in Chelmsford.