February Pub of the Month – Ye Olde Smack, Leigh on Sea
In its distant past Ye Olde Smack in Leigh on Sea was a hive of smuggling activity. Reputedly, tunnels running underneath the pub aided smugglers by concealing movement of contraband, arriving in secrecy via the estuary. Today this historic, traditional Great British pub remains a sociable, community hub and provides a year-round, warm welcome to everyone – families, fishermen, day trippers and locals.
“Old Leigh is a great place for a day out. The pub is less than ten minutes’ walk from the train station. There’s lots of history. The cockle sheds, our heritage centre and the seafront, along which you can walk all the way into Southend,” said Manager Maz Handy.
Situated on Old Leigh’s cobbled High Street, directly on the waterfront, the pub boasts beautiful, ever-changing views of the estuary which can be enjoyed from the pub’s rear terrace or on cold, inclement days, from behind glass and the comfort of indoors.
A Greene King pub, Ye Olde Smack offers beer drinkers plenty of choice. There are eight traditional real ales on tap. The house beer, Ye Olde Smack Ale 3.7% ABV, is brewed to the pub’s specifications at Brentwood Brewery.
Assistant Manager Sonja Oldham is responsible for the cellar and keeping all the ale in best possible condition. The pub holds the Cask Marque Award for selling great quality real ales.
“I’ve been running the cellar for about eighteen months now and it’s the best part of my job!
“I like to have a variety of ales, from IPA’s to porters, so there’s a taste for every palette.
“I always keep Ye Olde Smack Ale available. It has become one of our most popular ales. Our guests love the fact it’s brewed locally by Brentwood Brewery, a very well-respected and well-known name. Greene King IPA is also always on tap. I’m lucky to be able to obtain a wide selection of guest ales too which I usually keep on for two weeks,” said Sonja.
The menu celebrates classic pub fayre and offers diners many options. From lighter meals like sandwiches, smaller plates and baked potatoes to hearty traditional meals and desserts. On Sundays roast dinners are available throughout the day.
There are proper, award-winning pies but most requested and synonymous with the seaside, has to be fish and chips. Chunky, hand-battered cod with chips, peas (mushy available) and tartare sauce costs £11.99. A wholesome plate already but you can big it up. Their ultimate fish and chips comes with the addition of pickled onions, bread and butter as well as curry sauce at £13.99. Scampi fans, your favourite dish comes with chips, peas and tartare sauce and costs £8.99.
Also popular is the 8oz matured Black Angus rump steak served with grilled tomato, chips, onion rings and peas £12.99.
Their burger menu is varied and very interesting. Choices include chicken. Also a vegetarian red and black bean Mexican burger as well as an attention-catching Dirty Burger which comes with chilli con carne (£11.99). All are served with fries and coleslaw.
Be prepared to make some new canine acquaintances, especially at weekends, as this is a dog-friendly pub which gets mentions on doggiepubs.org.uk and dogfriendlyuk.co.uk. In Autumn bird watchers flock here too, keen to observe migrating Dark-Bellied Brent Geese feeding on Eelgrass in the estuary.
“Geese, having travelled from Siberia, come to Leigh October/November time in their thousands and people specifically come down to see them,” added Maz.
Ye Olde Smack is an ideal venue for relaxing, recharging and enjoying a fine pint and great food. In winter you can warm up by one of three open, log fires. In summer you could choose something from the barbecue or just enjoy alfresco dining in the courtyard or rear terrace, looking out over the estuary. Time your visit right on a Friday or Saturday night and you can enjoy live music. Or Thursday evenings, join in quiz night.
Old Leigh’s events calendar is chock-full with things to do and see. In the summer there is the cockle season, (dates vary each year) the folk festival (22nd – 25th June) the regatta (usually September), and maritime festival (usually August).
Beer & Food Match Suggestion:
A pint of Brentwood-brewed Ye Olde Smack Ale 3.7% ABV, pairs perfectly with chunky, hand-battered cod fillet with garden or mushy peas and tartare sauce £11.99.
Ye Olde Smack, 7 High Street, Leigh on Sea, Essex, SS9 2EN. 01702 476 765
Open daily from noon. Food served daily from noon.
Love Beer, Love Brentwood