A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be invited along to The Travellers Joy in Rayleigh, our local Hungry Horse restaurant to sample their fayre and we took my lovely mother-in-law with us again so that I could offer the opinions of three generations of Crammond. We visited on a Monday afternoon and was surprised by just how lively the atmosphere was inside and were warmly greeted before being seated in a circular booth, which was perfect for fitting all of us in, as well as the buggy.

For starters, Sausage and I decided to share a plate of nachos, which were loaded with cheese, guacamole, salsa and jalapenos. There was also the option to add beef chilli, but we decided to keep it light. There was plenty to go around and the four of us all ended up tucking into the nachos! Husband went for the Chicken New Yorker Batons, which consisted of chicken, BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon inside filo pastry, served with a BBQ dip and were a very light choice, perfect if you have a smaller appetite. MIL decided to leave the starter and go straight for the mains as she’s got a fairly small appetite…which was about to be seriously tested!

For our main courses, Husband went for a fully loaded burrito which comes as a 12″ flour tortilla with Mexican rice, peppers & onions. Packed with shredded iceberg lettuce, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream and jalapeños, you can also choose from BBQ pulled pork, spicy chicken, rump steak or smoky bean chilli if you want a veggy option. Husband went for the pulled pork and was presented with a meal which would probably have fed two people adequately! Sausage opted for the kids meal which has a whole load of options to choose from, meaning they don’t have to end up with the usual nuggets and chips (although that’s exactly what she chose!), and Sausage was most impressed to find that they served authentic Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti as a side option!

MIL chose the cheese, onion and potato pie which was served with chips, peas and gravy and was more like an enormous pastie than a pie, but she absolutely loved it and despite her best efforts to clear her plate, MIL was ultimately defeated by the huge Hungry Horse portions! I opted for the 14oz rump steak which was served chips, onion rings, buttered whole green beans, a flat mushroom and a grilled tomato. I ordered my steak rare, as I usually do – I’m pretty fussy about steak and find that it can be really hit and miss in the UK; usually, if you order rare you end up with something that’s medium rare and if you actually order medium rare, it turns up almost cremated. I was massively impressed when my huge slab of steak turned up properly rare! It was cooked to perfection and well seasoned, and the side dishes were excellent – some of the best chips I’ve had in ages!

By now, Husband and MIL were well and truly stuffed, but Sausage and I soldiered on (mostly because we’d caught sight of the very enticing dessert cabinet!) and ordered a slice of the Mars Attacks gateaux to share. The piece of cake that turned up was mind-bogglingly huge and could easily have fed all four of us! In fact, despite our best efforts, Sausage and I fell at the final hurdle and had to admit defeat halfway through our afters.

We were all really impressed with the food at the Hungry Horse and were aware, as we were ordering, that everything on the menu seemed to be pretty good value. However, I’ve just added up how much our meal would have cost, minus drinks, and I’m blown away to discover that the whole lot would have cost just under £38! That’s starters for three, mains for four and dessert for two, and all of our portions were really large. In fact, I was so surprised by the cost that I went back and added it up twice, just to be sure.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Hungry Horse and especially the Travellers Joy in Rayleigh, for the atmosphere, friendliness, excellent food, huge portions and brilliant value for money and am really pleased to know that there’s somewhere local we can go for a nice family meal which won’t cost the earth…and that gateaux alone makes it well worth a return visit!

Go HERE to find your nearest Hungry Horse.