SW Essex Pub Quest: The Moon On The Square in Basildon

Ah, Weatherspoons! I used to swear by them. The ales for under two pounds a pint – and good too! The gourmet burgers, the curries, all cheap and cheerful. Sure, they’ve lost some of the appeal with this whole brexit thing. The good-old-times interiors seem less welcoming than five years ago, magazines spew out pro-brexit propaganda and today we could even hear a guest asking the waitress in an unfriendly manner “You don’t speak English! Where did you come from?”. Yet, the thing is: Weatherspoons is the pub chain to end all pub chains. There is simply nothing else that offers similar balance of choice, quality and value for money. I do have misgivings about the political activism of JD Weatherspoons owner, but I don’t think a boycott of this business would do anyone any good, so this lunchtime we went to Moon On The Square in central Basildon.

The pub is next door to our last week’s feature, The Beehive. The decor is actually fairly similar, again with slot machines taking a prominent place in the very middle of the hall. The prices are even lower. The ale selection is in a different league to all the places we’ve visited so far: 8 real ales on the tap, each for £1.99, I tried Wakering Gold from George’s Brewery and it was very good. In addition there is a limited selection of bottled and canned craft beers. Nothing to complain about on this front. This being Thursday, it was a curry day, so I went for lamb Rogan Josh, which was a marked improvement on Beehive’s chicken tikka last week: the curry itself was alright, nothing special, but the rice was actually pilau basmati, there was a naan and the popadums were tasty. Z loves that they have a dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu and, went for noodles teriyaki (which tasted more like black bean than teriyaki to me). When ordering, I was asked if we want chicken with that, so perhaps vegetarianism has not caught on in Basildon yet. Of course, for £6 or so the quality and execution are not going to be top notch; we could put together a meal of similar quality by throwing together a few ready-made ingredients from Tesco’s. That said, the food was quite alright, and served very quickly.

I’ve known this place for years, and Whetherspoons itself since my early days in the UK, so this lunch was not a revelation, just a confirmation that Moon On The Square is the place to have lunch in Basildon centre.

The Z-Score

Availability of vegan food★★★
Food quality★★★

blurry photo of the pub interior