Horndon on the hill is a charming and tranquil village just over half a mile east of Orsett and the same distance west of Stanford Le Hope. Situated towards the end of the high road that runs through the village, is The Bell Inn & Hill House; a 15th Century Coaching Inn.
The Bell has gained a long established reputation for providing excellent food, an extensive selection of well chosen wines, and a variety of well kept real ales; many of them local. The establishment has been owned and run by the same family for over 50 years and there is an evident and justifiable pride in all that they do.
The Bell has all of the character and charm you would expect from a true, aged, traditional Inn; timber panelling, wall to ceiling beams, and an open brick fireplace. A striking feature in the saloon bar, are the rows of hot cross buns hanging from a ceiling beam; the tradition for the eldest (available) member of the community to hang a bun at 1.30pm on Good Friday started in 1906 and continues to this day.
The main bar is separated into two areas. The first, as you walk in, is primarily where you can sit down, have a pleasant drink and read a newspaper, or chat with friends by the open fire. The second is set for relaxed dining, where no booking is necessary. However, if you want a table, I would recommend that you get there early – as near to opening time as possible at weekends – as although 28 covers are accommodated, this area does fill fast.
The main restaurant area is set back from the bar, allowing for a more peaceful, yet vibrant dining setting. The tables are sophisticatedly dressed for up to 40 people. Upstairs, an additional dining/board room is tucked away, with dining seating for a further 26; making an ideal setting for private dining, business meetings or small parties.
The daily changing menu offers a selection of fresh seasonal produce, much of it sourced locally, which is carefully crafted into sumptuous dishes. The combination of the modern and traditional styles and flavours, make for some wonderfully imaginative and memorable repasts. The prices are reasonable and the quality is high. I have regularly dined at The Bell for the past fifteen years and have never been disappointed.
The wine list is beyond extensive, with a superb choice of over 100 International wines, from a crisp, fruity Muscadet Sur Lie Chateau La Noe, 2005, at £14.95, to a ripe, robust and exquisitely well-balanced Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou Saint-Julien, 1982, at £175.00. There is also a good choice of wines by the half-bottle and 16 by the glass. As you may ascertain, good wine is a passion at The Bell.
Accommodation is also available in 10 individually styled rooms and 6 luxurious suites.
A wonderful traditional Inn and restaurant that is renowned, and justifiably so, for providing excellent food that is carefully created from high quality, fresh seasonal produce; an extensive well balanced wine list and a good selection of real ales and regularly alternating guest ales. The service is professional and friendly. Highly Recommended.