Is this the cosiest pub in Essex?

The Sun Inn on Dedham High Street

The Sun Inn is found on Dedham High Street - Credit: CliQQ Photography

Cosy pubs in Essex for dinner: The Sun Inn, Dedham

Reviewed by Stephanie Mackentyre 

On a cold winter’s day, now we are past the excesses of Christmas, it’s hard to be motivated to eat out. However, there are some real gems in Essex that will tempt you from your home, whether it's with roaring log fires, a sumptuous hard-to-resist menu or a warm and comfy bed for the night. One place that has all of those things in abundance is the Sun Inn, Dedham. A proper coaching inn, it has an elm bar, an open-beamed dining room and a snug oak-panelled lounge with not one, but three open fires. 

Log fire and sofa in the Sun Inn Dedham

Log fires create a cosy atmosphere - Credit: CliQQ Photography

We began by enjoying an evening drink in the snug before going through to the restaurant. For an ancient building the décor has some contemporary colour; bold blues and yellows sit between historic black beams, complementing the floral soft furnishings. 

It has a really interesting wine list, which states ‘no house wines.’ Instead, they offer light to full styles by the glass or carafe. Try the Folle Blanche du Pays Nantais from the Loire Valley in France for a clean and crisp white. For red wine lovers, try the Yarra Valley Australian Pinot Noir, which is described as cherry, red berry and sultry! For me, it was an irresistible glass of sparkling Wiston Estate Rosé from the South Downs here in the UK. It’s full of bubbly flavours of rhubarb, raspberry, strawberry, red current and wild roses – perfect to put the sparkle back into a cold winter’s night.  

Diners at The Sun Inn Dedham

Diners enjoy sumptuous meal and fine wines - Credit: CliQQ Photography

Once in the restaurant, with the fire crackling away nearby, we took a look at the menu. It’s helpfully laid out into categories of snacks, casual and then starters, pasta, mains and extras (side dishes). So, depending on how hungry you are, there’s a good choice of something for everyone. Complimentary breads arrived with homemade tapenade and olive oil. Unfortunately, our starters arrived at the same time; it would have been nice to enjoy the delicious breads first. I had chosen the pork and smoked chicken terrine with cranberry, pistachio and brioche. You can choose to have one of the pasta dishes as a starter, so my guest chose spaghetti made with braised cuttlefish, tomato, chilli and gremolata. Both were colourful, flavoursome and generous portions.  

The main course for me was a vegetarian option of celeriac and potato gratin, served with Lanark Blue cheese, chicory leaves, walnuts, apple and rocket, which was very good indeed. My guest opted for the wild duck served with chicory, orange, cooked beetroot, pain d'épices and a rich game sauce. I was also tempted to try the slow-roasted beef cheek, pancetta, mushrooms, barolo, salsify, radicchio and swede. We shared a side of new potatoes and fine beans (£3.50 per portion). There’s an automatic 10% service charge on all bills, with all of it going to the staff.  

the Sun Inn Dedham sign

The Sun Inn has offered refuge for locals and travellers for centuries - Credit: Stephanie Mackentyre

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We were tempted by the dulce de leche semifreddo, baked figs and pistachio and the oh-so-indulgent chocolate and hazelnut tart, but instead we enjoyed sweet bites and coffee at a rather reasonable £7 per head. It included mini homemade blackcurrant fruit pastille jellies, squares of the most amazing chocolate salted fudge and mini lemon tarts with Italian meringue – all of which were impossible not to devour.  

We left, as travellers who have visited the Sun Inn over many centuries would have done: contented, rested and eager to call in again next time we’re in these parts.  


Petit fours and against 

To be applauded: The ambiance – you feel the layers of stress just peel away as you step inside and feel the warmth from the fires.  

Could do with: It’s such an interesting wine list, it would be nice if the staff were able to talk you through some suggestions.    

Worthy of note: Plenty of different options on the menu and places to sit to accommodate all types of guests and party sizes. 

You'll enjoy this place if... you are looking for a relaxed environment with top notch cuisine, then the Sun Inn is your place.     

I wish I’d also tried: The monk fish tail with grape and vin jaune sauce served with Jerusalem artichoke and chard.  

After-dinner thought: Possibly time for a crockery inventory; a couple of our dishes were chipped.  


Useful to know 

My total bill came to £90.37 for a two-course dinner for two with drinks and coffees. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed. 


Book a table 

The Sun Inn  

High Street 

Dedham 

CO7 6DF 

01206 323 351 

thesuninndedham.com 


Three more restaurants offering a cosy bolt hole   

The Linden 

1-3 Silver Street 

Stansted CM24 8HA 

01279 813654  

thelinden.co.uk 

We say: Just a ten-minute drive from Stansted Airport it’s the ideal place to stop, relax and enjoy before you fly.  


The Mistley Thorn 

High Street 

Mistley 

CO11 1HE 

01206 392 821 

mistleythorn.co.uk 

We say: Seafood is a speciality, and they have an all-day Sunday lunch too. With a log burner and views of the water, what’s not to like? 


The Lion Inn 

Main Road 

Boreham 

Chelmsford 

CM3 3JA 

01245 394 900 

lioninnhotel.co.uk 

We say: Comfy beds with crisp white linen, plenty of good pub grub on the menu and even some cocktails too!