The Jobber's Rest - Upminster

I've been here before

It's funny how some pubs become synonymous with your youth but a lot do. And if I were to regale with stories of yore, about the time I danced on the tables at The Bridge House, about the time I got thrown out of The Golden Lion and about the time I wept dutifully in the porch of The White Hart after getting dumped - you would probably say 'Mate, this sounds awfully like The World's End and that was all very self-indulgent and boring. Seriously, it really was a crap finale to the Cornetto Trilogy, so please do shut up.'

And you'd be right to say so

But some pubs do make you go misty eyed at the mere mention of them. The Jobber's Rest in Upminster is one such place. Memories of revelry always seem to surface when I approach the door. 

Of rowdy times, a booze fuelled occasion and a close encounter with the law.

However, I am all grown up now and so has 'The Jobbers' - as you'd simply call it around here.

Now under the umbrella of The White Brasserie Company, where Raymond Blanc is a director, the vibe is definitely a lot different. Long gone is the stench of stale Fosters and fags soaked in the carpet. In its place is a smart but comfortable set up, with lovely, friendly staff - the old landlady was a dragon - and a cracking menu, blending both relaxed French classics and British pub favourites. It really is one of our favourite places to go in the area and is it of no coincidence that our children's primary school was just around the corner. It is quite sad really that they've moved onto secondary school because we used to love our Friday afternoon walk ups to the Jobbers. You know, where you'd get over there extra early, to make sure you didn't miss the bell. 

In fact, if it was glorious, we'd argue as to who should go around and actually collect the kids and for some reason it was always ME. Largely because I am a ginger and shouldn't stay too long in the voluminous beer garden there, without any shade. Which I always felt was quite devious - and I have unintentionally rhymed three times there.

Still, we return a fair bit and on this occasion, an offer had been made of writing up a review by way of singing for our supper. 'And why not?' I thought. I haven't written anything for this blog in bloody aaaages. Maybe my focus should become more Essex-centric anyway? Yes, let's start shouting about what is going on food and drink-wise in this most excellent county. Whoop! This could be great! 

Don't watch this space too closely though, as I was thinking all this in the shower the other day, whilst absently pulling soggy fluff out of my belly button.

Coming back to the shouting though (and steering away from that last image) one of the great things about the Jobbers is the consistency and relative inventiveness of their food. Christmas is in full swing and so I decided to go for their festive menu. I ordered the potted smoked salmon & horseradish cream, with pickled cucumber, salmon caviar, toasted baguette and straight away you might be sardonically thinking - 'Wow, that's different.' But it was actually. Anything 'potted' usually obscures the fact that off-cuts are being used up but the chunky, firm texture of the salmon suggested that whole fillets were being used here.

As for the duck leg confit with red Thai curry sauce and spiced crushed potatoes, OK, there was nothing remotely Christmassy about the dish really. But my god the sauce. By delivering a hot and tart contrast to all that fatty flesh, the pairing worked really well and showed that sometimes, it ain't always about the cherries. Or the turkey either.

To finish, I had the chocolate & citrus orange cup, with chocolate mousse and crumble and mascarpone cream and I am glad that they went with the word 'crumble'. In any other place, this would have been 'soil' and I am fed up of eating 'soil'. Clever little dish too, insofar that it was all very gratifying and indulgent but no so much that it become over cloying. Or perhaps, I am just a greedy git.

For Mrs FU, Christmas had arrived too soon, so she decided to choose from the autumn menu, which really does reflect the sort of cooking they deliver throughout the year.

To start, she had the Cheese soufflé, that came with a Wyke Farm Cheddar sauce and please, hold off on your sacred bleus for second there because it works. Very well. Too well. They should probably change the name to Airy Cheese Crack soufflé. That's how well it works. And let's face it, some parts of Somerset are like the Dordogne. So why not bring the two worlds together?

Smoked pork belly followed, with apple and crackling, braised red cabbage and Dauphinoise potato. By all accounts, the meat was very soft, delicious and tender, with wonderful depth and richness throughout the accompaniments. But it was also a leviathan portion of food and to be frank, perhaps one that should be tackled after a long walk in the countryside. I think that's what she said but I was too busy hoovering up the leftovers.

For dessert, due to the enormity of her mains, Mrs FU decided to go for another soufflé. A pistachio soufflé, that was 'famously light' but also came with a rich chocolate ice cream. I suggested that it might leave her bit 'à bout de souffle' but she didn't get the joke and fairly inhaled it anyway. 

All of this was digested, along with a bloody good bottle of Pinot Noir, within the usual busy hustle and bustle of a Friday night, with other Christmas parties and groups in full swing. To put a finer point on it - the place was manic.

Which leads me back to the staff and another good reason why we love to visit the Jobbers so much. The secret of hospitality is obviously making guests feel comfortable and attended to, but without too much interference or needless stress. You know, delivering that sense of seamless control and gliding across the water, even if you are paddling furiously underneath? That sort of thing. Oh and recognising and building relationships with regulars is important too. The front of house at the Jobbers do all of this and more.

Considering how riotous it used to be in the old days, this contrast is very apparent to me. I mean, there was this one time, where a beer festival was held there and it all got out of hand and the police were called but...

Well, I won't bore you with that. It's just nice to have a place to feel all grown up in and on your doorstep.

This is the sort of the story I should be talking about some more.

The Jobber's Rest
St Mary's Lane
RM14 3LT

Tel: 01708 251 540

This review was based upon a complimentary meal.

Nice barman, menu, funny sign, cheeky extra dish of  Grilled lightly smoked salmon with curried cauliflower


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