“ Address: 1 Southend Road / Woodford Green / Essex / IG8 8LG / Tel: 0208 5513848 „
We had visitors over from abroad, and were a group of seven who wanted somewhere "traditionally English" but within budget to have a Sunday roast.
We realised it would be busy on a Sunday, and were prepaired to wait. When we turned up, we were still waiting for 2 people to join us, and the staff said we couldn't book our table until the whole group arrived!
We questioned this as we were baffled. The rude man only said that "it is unfair to other groups turning up...". That makes no sense. We knew our friends were only 10 minutes away.
The man in the reception said that this is their policy, and at the moment there is an hour waiting time.
When our friends arrived and we could book our table (funny how they were more than happy to take our money in the bar for our friends and us) we were told 40 minutes waiting. That was a result!
We waited patiently for 40 minutes (not easy with a bouncy three-year old) and then inquired again only to be told it would be another 30-40 minutes! The rude man didn't even offer an explanation to this. I asked if they can't put two tables together for us, but was told that they don't do that on Sundays!!!
We left and will never, ever return.
My advice: STAY AWAY!
THE COCKED HAT TOBY CARVERY, WOODFORD GREEN, ESSEX
I seem to have been eating out a lot lately; so much so that the places have had to be of the casual and the cheaper ilk. When my son and his girlfriend come to stay during university holidays my husband and I like to take them out for lunch, dinner or sometimes a mixture of both during their stay with us. And sometimes, one, two or even three more of my offspring decide to come along and then the price has to be a consideration as to where we dine.
Out of the cheaper establishments I have patronised over the last few months I have to say that in my opinion 'The Cocked Hat' Toby Carvery, in Woodford Green Essex, has come out tops. It isn't that it's particularly exceptional but when taking into account price, quality of food, cleanliness and surroundings, as well as service then, although there is some room for improvement, I've got to say I prefer dining here to Wetherspoons, harvesters and similar chains.
I have visited this particular Toby restaurant on many occasions, on different days of the week, and at different times of day but always have got as good as or better than expected. I wouldn't say it's fantastic or anything but we always come away feeling as if we got value for our money. And we always have enough to eat; probably too much.
For those not familiar with a Toby Carvery then this part of the review might interest you:
When entering the restaurant section you will be greeted and either told if there is a wait and approximate wait time of this wait or, if a table is free, you will be shown to your table and a waiter/waitress will come along to see if you require drinks and ask whether you require a carvery meal or would like to choose from the menu, which has already been provided. If you decide to go for the carvery option you will be told when to go and collect your meal. A choice of meat is carved for you and placed onto your plate and then you can serve yourself from a selection of vegetables, sauces and gravy. You can have as much vegetables as you wish. You will see many plates stacked sky high in here.
There are decent car parking spaces available to the front of the pub. To one side is a pleasant grassed area with several benches and tables. This area is well used in the warmer weather by families enjoying a drink outside. And, of course, some smokers make use of this area too.
~~INSIDE THE COCKED HAT~~
Inside the Cocked Hat there is a decently sized bar and lounge area. There are fruit machines and a quiz machine. My son loves the quiz machine and I quite like a quiz myself so we play this, if rarely we have to wait for a table, or after our meal.
This lounge is comfortable with an assortment of high and low and small and large tables, and an assortment of chairs. These are placed conveniently around this area so that there are some areas which have a feel of some privacy and comfort.
We always eat in the restaurant but there is a pub menu so that customers can choose to eat a meal or a snack in this area. The menu is quite good offering sandwiches, baguettes, light bites as well as meals such as bangers and mash for just £4.50
This area can be used whilst you wait for your table or for a following drink. It also seems well used for those having a pint or glass of wine after work; or for a place to meet before going elsewhere. The Cocked Hat itself seems to me to be mainly a pub/restaurant visited by families or older couples/groups wanting a quiet relaxing drink or a meal giving good value.
The restaurant varies in table sizes and there is a good choice of where you can sit. The restaurant and bar are all on the ground floor although a few tables are on a raised area which is accessed by a step.
Tables are well arranged with, I feel enough space between neighbouring tables and, even when busy, there is enough space to go and get your meal without bumping into anyone.
The restaurant has a serving station where the meat is carved and then selected along with vegetables.
The gents toilet is situated in the bar area and the ladies is off of the restaurant.
In the ladies there are several cubicles. Nothing special here but clean enough with soap and toilet paper always on dispensers and hand wash also available (well when I've been in here at least)
Whenever I have dined here I have always been pleased with the friendliness and efficiency of the waiting staff. I know, as my niece worked in another Toby Carvery, that staffs aren't paid very much so tips are what make the job worthwhile. Because of this I am happy to tip if the staff if they have provided service with a smile. I have always tipped in this Toby.
In The Cocked hat that staff always seem to have knowledge of the meals available and can advise on choices.
Although you go to collect your own carvery meal waitresses/waiters are still kept busy serving starters, alternative meals and vegetarian options to the table, as well as desserts and drinks. They always come up to ask if everything is aright once you've started on the main meal.
Usually whether eating here during the day or evening, I haven't had to wait for a table. However, recently, on a particularly warm evening we were surprised to be told that we would have to wait for an hour for a table. This was unfortunate as we had wanted to be seated before seven p.m. so that our meal would be at the cheaper lunch time price. Actually our table was available after only about 45 to 50 minutes but this still put meant we were seated after the seven o'clock deadline but the manager, without prompting, said that we could dine at the lunch time prices as a matter of goodwill and our patience in waiting.
The daytime carvery is available for the great price of £5.49 until seven in the evening when the evening carvery is available at the still very reasonable price of, £7.75.
There are offers available and it is worth looking at Toby Carvery's Facebook page for details.
Toby's also offer various nights when curry, stroganoff, rib of beef and other foods are on the menu. You can take as much as you like of these.
The weekday carvery menu consists of meats which include beef, honey & mustard glazed gammon and turkey but there are also options such as a beef and ale pie or turkey and gammon pie. If choosing one of these then you can still choose as much of the vegetable selection that you want; this choice just replaces the joints of meat.
On Sunday roast pork is also on offer
I don't eat meat and neither does my youngest daughter or my son's girlfriend. The vegetarian carvery options always include at least two of these:
Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne
Smoked Bean Hash
Broccoli & Brie Parcel
Spicy Vegetable Crumble
Whenever I have asked which is available I've always been told that they are all available.
But this is one of the areas in which I feel an improvement could be made. As a non-meat eater I feel that although the vegetarian options are tasty in their own right, I don't feel that any of them go well with a roast dinner. I would much sooner have vegetarian sausages or nut cutlet or, simply the carvery without the meat but at a slightly reduced price (as with the children's carvery). I can't understand why all carvery restaurants don't include a nut roast or veggie sausages as it's so simple and goes well with gravy and roast potatoes.
Children are welcome at The Cocked Hat. On Sundays and bank holidays there will be plenty of younger guests eating here with their families but, as yet, I haven't found it to be a free for all with children using the restaurant as a playground whilst the parent s chat away, as can happen in many Weatherspoon pubs, in my opinion.
For the under tens the menu is much the same as the adults and children can choose from the carvery for the price of , £4.50 or a meat free carvery for £3.25.
The child's menu has some activities/puzzles to keep the young ones occupied for a while.
Tots in high chairs can be supplied with a plate so that parents can sort out their food from their own adult meal without incurring any extra cost. I think this is a good idea.
For very young children (generally children in a high-chair), we can provide a small plate at the table,
if requested, so they can share their parent's meal. Our waiting team will be happy to help you.
The menu states that:
All our products may contain nuts, seeds, gluten or other allergens.
There are about seven choices of starters which isn't a fantastic choice but four of these are suitable for vegetarians as well as meat eaters so that's a positive in my opinion.
There is a good choice of desserts and in my opinion they are all reasonably priced and the portions are of a good size. Some desserts come with either ice cream or custard.
QUALITY OF FOOD
Well, it is a carvery and I don't eat meat but it certainly smells good and looks good. I have been told by the omnivores in the family that the meat is tender and succulent. There is always a choice of meat and your choice is carved in front of you. The choice is usually at least that of gammon, beef and turkey of which you can choose two. Pork is added to this choice on Sundays and lamb is available on Saturday. My husband always says the meat is enjoyable, as do the other meat eaters in the family, but he often chooses the steak and ale pie j but not because the meat choice isn't good.
I think you get what you pay for here maybe all things considered a little more. The potatoes are tasty and the Yorkshire pudding nice but the vegetables can be a bit hit and miss. I think the best time to dine is early evening or lunch time but not too late a lunch. I find then that the vegetables are more likely to be newly cooked and at their best. I couldn't go into raptures about the carrots and peas but, then again, it's all of a decent standard and there's plenty of it. I can honestly say that I have never not enjoyed my meal overall.
I find the vegetarian options are good but don't think, as mentioned, that they go well with the roast.
Drink prices are reasonable and a decent choice is on offer. I would say the prices are in line with similar chains. We usually have a selection of drinks in our party and what we have depends on the time of day and the occasion. But we have over many visits sampled a good selection including wines, beers and soft drinks. They serve Blossom Hill wine which goes down well with me, so I'm well catered for.
I have quite often seen guests dining here who use wheelchairs or have walking frames. As the pub and restaurant area is housed on the ground floor then wheelchair access is relatively easy. A few tables are accessed by one step but there are more tables available on the level surface.
Opening hours of The Cocked Hat carvery at Woodford green are:
Monday to Saturday: 12pm - 10pm
Sunday: 11am - 10pm
Pub opening hours:
Monday to Saturday: 11am - 11pm
Sunday: 11am - 10.30pm
1 Southend Road
Further details can be found on this website: