An 8km walk from Walthamstow to Chingford through Epping Forest, brought us out virtually opposite the Royal Forest “Brewers Fayre”:https://www.brewersfayre.co.uk/en-gb/locations/greater-london/royal-forest?cid=GLBC_location41016795.
It was built in 1879 as a hotel to accommodate the hordes of people visiting the Forest. It was renamed the Royal Forest Hotel in 1882 after Queen Victoria’s visit to Epping Forest to dedicate it to the People. The huge Tudor style building with cream and beams is substantial, pretty stunning and we knew it had recently been refurbished inside as it had been closed on a recent attempt at visiting. It is now a Brewers Fayre, which incorporates a Premier Inn.
On arrival, we waited so long at the ‘wait to be seated’ desk, we both thought about leaving but a young girl arrived in the nick of time. Having sanitised hands and given my name and number, despite logging on using the QR code displayed, we asked if we could sit in the garden. We’d had plenty of time to see the inside was a little dark and smell the pervading Friday fish aroma. We were given two menus, “main”:https://www.brewersfayre.co.uk/en-gb/main-menu/brewers_fayre_main_menu_band2.pdf and one for a “special deal”:https://www.brewersfayre.co.uk/en-gb/daytime-menu/brewers_fayre_daytime_menu.pdf, and told to find a table and order at the bar quoting the table number.
The garden at the rear was large and paved with faux wooden circular tables and picnic style benches fixed around. The whole area looked plain with no flowers or shrubs and a little unkempt with dirty, uncleared tables, and debris on a floor which looked as though it hadn’t been swept for a few days.
We chose a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for £11.99, and although Roy was going to have a Cesar salad off the main menu, when I pointed out that for 20p more, we could have two specials (2 mains for £8.99), we opted for lasagne for me and chicken tikka. This appeared particularly good value especially bearing in mind you could add either a starter or pudding for an additional £1.99. The specials menu also had an allergy matrix on the back.
Roy went to order and noticed that the door we’d exited said no entry, but having tried to find his way around the building was told by a member of staff it was fine to use it.
He returned clutching a bottle of New Zealand Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, one of our favourites, which he’d recently seen on sale in the Co-op at £9.50. He wasn’t sure whether they’d run out of the Chilean or a mistake was made but hadn’t queried it as at £11.99 it was exceptional VFM. A young chap brought out the wine glasses and glasses of tap water. Interestingly Roy was allowed to carry the wine as in most places we’ve been too, all drinks were delivered on trays – in fact everyone else brought their drinks out with them. We asked the young guy to wipe down the sticky table and enjoyed a quick chat with him about his impending return to university.
The wine glasses were pretty grim and needed a lick and spit although Roy pointed out it was probably the dish washer. I wasn’t so sure.
The food arrived relatively quickly. My lasagne was accompanied by a slice of garlic bread and a small salad garnish with a dob of French dressing whilst the chicken tikka was served in a stainless-steel bowl with white basmati rice and a naan. To be fair, bearing in mind the price, they were both reasonably tasty although I suspect a few jars of sauce were used in their production.
No one came to check we were ok, and tables weren’t cleared despite a prevalence of hovering magpies.
From the outside, this place has serious potential, but it really needs some management attention. However, on the basis that it is the only option to the nearby walks, it’s probably likely we will return.