“ Address: North Hill / Little Baddow / Essex / CM3 4TQ „
Visiting the Rodney Pub in Little Baddow near Chelmsford wasn't a planned decision. We were on route to our favourite tea room at Paper Mill Lock which I have reviewed before on Dooyoo and which affords wonderful riverside walks and is one of my favourite places to relax. Sadly this area is prone to flooding, and with the deluge of rain we have been having locally just before Christmas saw the peak of the water levels making access to the tea room impossible. As a result it was closed so our lunch time stop saw us entering The Rodney which is higher up the hill and is a place steeped in history. Despite living in Little Baddow for many years in the 1970s I had never been in the place when I lived there, so I thought it was time to sample lunch and to see what delights were hidden inside this very old building dating back centuries.
The Rodney is actually so old that it is impossible to accurately date it, but it is known that in 1650 it was a farm house, and later it became a bakery and grocer's shop and finally a public house which has been run by the present owners since 1989. It has a good lunch menu and a well constructed website at www.therodneyinn.co.uk
The name of the pub is taken from Admiral Rodney and a subsequent series of Naval ships and so as you might expect the pub has a nautical theme going through it with maritime artefacts in evidence everywhere. It is rather quaint to be sitting in an inland pub which would look more at home near to the coast, which of course this setting isn't, but in terms of décor the look is quite dated in style with a very thin line in my opinion between what is aesthetically pleasing and what is bordering on shabby. The carpets are threadbare in places and the tables worn, and the fireplace does not house a warm and roaring fire. Furthermore a visit to the ladies offers a glimpse of the pull cord old fashioned black high cistern affair, which whilst a museum piece does not in my opinion impart a feeling of cleanliness. Still it is a grade 2 listed building so some dated pieces are acceptable, and the bar itself is a homely looking affair where food can be ordered. The place is very small inside so space is limited, and one side of the pub is reserved for a pool table, fruit machine and TV so has a less relaxing atmosphere.
The review I am writing is based on only one visit which is because I would not give the place my custom for a second time. As we were completely new to the establishment one would have expected a degree of friendliness and welcoming but it was less than forthcoming. The sign "No Dogs" on the door was quite off putting as we often take our little dog to various dog friendly places, but I understand that there are two camps here and so respected their wishes and left Molly in the car. We ordered a couple of drinks and asked to see the menu and this was a passable experience with a half smile and a suggestion to us to keep a tab, and so we opted to order two hot baguettes which I thought was a reasonable price of £4 each. I also ordered a pot of tea. We were not able to order alcohol as we were driving, but it was lunchtime and there were only two others eating lunch and one gentlemen was reading and hugging a pint in a corner table. The website does say they are more than happy to provide teas and coffees respecting customers wishes to be safe on the roads which I was impressed with.
When my tea arrived I was absolutely knocked back by the way it was served. A woman came out of the kitchen said "tea" in the most stern brusque voice I have ever heard in my life and put it in front of me as if it was to be my last- I thought of the words " I hope it chokes you" but she never said them of course, but body language and mannerisms speak louder than verbal gestures in my opinion, and I looked at my husband in amazement. It does explain that all the food is home cooked and so you should allow a good period of time to be served so it gave me a while to study the couple who had just finished their scampi. The lady asked the waitress- " This is lovely scampi what make is it?" to which she replied "It's from the Cash and Carry" then there was a silence after which the waitress said "Do you want something else- pie or crumble?" in a monotone voice. I would have passed on that as again conversation was minimal and service appalling.
So it was with trepidation that we awaited our hot baguettes order and finally it arrived. One small cheap long life half baked baguette cut in half like an injured torpedo with two slithers of melting cheddar on a cheap white tea plate with no salad garnish- no crisps- no coleslaw- just an anaemic looking serving on a plate not much bigger than the size of saucer. No care had gone into the presentation at all, it wouldn't have cost much to just add a tiny fraction of colour with a slice of tomato or a few little baby salad leaves - it was minimal effort and the worse lunch I have ever been offered in my life. Added to the curt service it was all together a disgraceful offering and one that I shall not be repeating - ever. In these economically challenging times pubs are struggling to keep and to attract customers and all aspects of service here were lacking. It is a shame because the building has so much potential but the meal was insulting.
Maybe we caught the place on an off day as there are sometimes many cars in the car park, and certainly on a sunny day the beer garden looks very pretty and welcoming. I am not sure- maybe our lunch order caused offence as perhaps we didn't order something expensive enough from the menu and were seen as cheapskate I don't know, but it has prevented us from booking a special meal there in the future. There is an extensive menu for sure at reasonable prices and full details of this can be found on their website. It is such a shame because the emphasis is on home cooked food which normally excites me, but my sample visit did not illustrate this at all both with the presentation of my simple order or for the experience of the other couple that I was closely monitoring.
It always amazes me when people in service industries are unable to treat customers with kindness and a warm welcome. Maybe I should give them a second chance, but with some many wonderful Essex pubs with jolly staff and homely food presented beautifully I doubt I will venture in there again. If you wish to the opening hours are given below.
Tuesday - Saturday
12.00 - 2.30 &
6.00 - 11.00pm
12.00 - 8.00pm
I would say that although this pub has maritime décor with ships wheels and nautical memorabilia I will steer a course well away from there unless things change for the better.