Arriving in the beer garden of The Three Horseshoes at Fordham it felt as though summer had finally graced us with its presence. It was a beautiful blue-skied evening in the countryside, making it a delight to be in the little Essex village of Fordham. We were dining inside tonight but it would be lovely to sit in the garden one afternoon and just admire the gorgeous old church next door.

After a lovely welcome, we were taken through all the gluten-free options for my friend. It seemed that everything was easily adaptable and the server was full of knowledge about the menu. We ordered some sensational-sounding dishes and I ordered a glass of Picpoul de Pinet.

The pub has been lovingly restored; neutral tones and stone flooring brought a modern finish but by keeping the old beams, open fireplace and classic furniture the owners have kept the old pub's spirit and charm thoroughly intact.

Great British Life: Horseshoes Bar and resident dog Toby (c) Three HorseshoesHorseshoes Bar and resident dog Toby (c) Three Horseshoes

A stunning little gluten-free roll came out with my perfect sourdough slices and we started to dunk away in the whipped basil butter and tomato syrup. This butter was as delicious as it sounds – I could have eaten it with a spoon.

Our starters arrived, and the waiter delicately poured the silky carrot velouté over the sweet maple vinegar and beautifully arranged plant-based cheese made from macadamia. The result was pure velvet yumminess and I made the most of every sip. My friend's burrata with basil consumé was everything she had hoped for.

Up next was the Creedy Carver free-range chicken, poached in butter, roasted and served with sweet asparagus, powerful earthy girolles mushrooms and roasted petals of slightly pickled onions. It came with a bowl of chicken fat ratte potatoes and was all brought together with the chicken jus and beer gel. This is the dish that gained this restaurant it’s two AA Rosettes and (spoiler alert!) it was the best chicken dish I have ever eaten.

We paused for a natter with the friendly owner, Moira, and met her cute pub dog, Toby. Moira told us about the newly built and aptly named Coffee Shed outside. This was a project that started in a garage during lockdown serving up fresh coffee, artisan sourdough sandwiches and other treats to local dog walkers and cyclists – very clever. The project was such a success that they had made it into a permanent fixture now called The Coffee Shed.

Great British Life: The Three Horseshoes Garden Terrace (c) Three HorseshoesThe Three Horseshoes Garden Terrace (c) Three Horseshoes

We ordered some desserts; I can never resist dark chocolate and so I went for the extra-special Manjari chocolate Namelaka. A smooth, creamy ganache made with orange mascarpone, cut through with whiskey and orange ice cream. I loved the textured pistachio and cocoa nib tuile too. The desert was so well-balanced, rich, and not too sweet – surprisingly!

With incredible service and exquisitely crafted gourmet food, we absolutely adored our time at The Three Horseshoes at Fordham. I will certainly be returning to sit in the garden and admire the old church, perhaps with a pastry and beverage from the Coffee Shed!