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Admittedly, the meat pie wasn’t the most venturesome dish I could have ordered.

But my, was it tasty.

And it made me wonder: Where has meat pie been all my life?

I grew up in a family with Irish roots and a preference for simple meals sans spice. Curry was never on our dinner plates, but neither, mysteriously, was meat pie, a dish said to have been first brought by the Pilgrims to the North American colonies, and now better known in the States as pot pie.

The only pot pie I’d ever had prior to my recent visit to The Cock, a country pub in the quaint village of Lavenham, England, was courtesy of Swanson. Blah.

Fighting the urge to order my favorite English pub fare — fish and chips, which on The Cock’s menu was “cod and chips served with mushy peas” — I opted for the meat pie because it was one of the day’s homemade specials.

It arrived steaming hot, but not exactly in the form of a pie. Heaped on the plate were chunks of white chicken meat in a creamy gravy with a flaky pastry crust, and potatoes and cooked carrots on the side.

Not much to it, but it was delicious and fresh tasting, the ultimate comfort food after a long day of meandering through Lavenham and photographing more half-timbered medieval cottages than I needed to.

The Cock has a homey, relaxed charm. The wood panels on the walls, the dim lights and the worn, brown leather couch make it seem as though you’re eating in your neighbor’s den.

For starters, I ordered the carrot-and-coriander soup, another homemade daily special listed on the chalk board at the bar.

The soup was so hot I couldn’t eat it right away, so I wandered around and found most of the customers to be regulars, despite Lavenham’s reputation as a tourist draw.

These locals were a satisfied bunch.

“Another fine meal,” said an older couple to the bartender as they paid for their dinner. Another couple raved about the local ales: Adnam’s Broadside, Wells Bombardier and Woodforde’s Wherry.

Just getting seated were Cameron Burke and his dinner party. The group had traveled 45 minutes from the small town of Brandon near RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall to celebrate Burke’s birthday.

Burke said The Cock is more traditional and less trendy than pubs “in town,” with an emphasis on hearty, homemade food and good service.

“It’s fantastic,” he said.

By the time I made it back to my table, the soup was warm. It was tasty — like eating pureed buttery carrots, if a bit pricey at nearly 5 British pounds or about $7 for a small bowl and some bread. The bread almost made it worth the price: Two thick slices of brown, nutty granary bread with butter.

I liked that the pub offered the option of ordering smaller portions for select items on its menu. For the meat pie, the smaller portion was plenty, and I paid 5.95 pounds — about $9 — instead of 8.95 pounds (about $13) for a full portion.

If the meat pie, carrot soup and granary bread don’t sound enticing, try reading a list of some of The Cock’s other menu items without feeling hungry: butterfly chicken, cheese-and-bacon melt; hand-carved ham, Suffolk eggs and chips; beer-battered mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise; calamari rings with sweet chili dip and salad garnish; chef’s curry with saffron rice, naan bread and mango chutney.

Hungry yet?

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

The CockAddress: 37 Church Street, C010 9SA Lavenham.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday and bank holidays.

Food: Hearty pub fare and homemade dishes, such as fisherman’s pie, lamb shank and lasagna. Daily specials include fish and chips on Tuesday, curry on Thursday, pie of the day with chips and peas on Friday and roast of the day on Sunday. Food is prepared daily and where possible dishes are made from ingredients from local farms, butchers and bakers, according to the pub’s web site. For those with a sweet tooth, flapjacks, brownies and shortbread are available. Food is moderately priced from about 8.95 pounds (about $13.95) to 18.45 pounds for surf and turf. Smaller portions are available for some items.

Drinks: A variety of beers, including a selection of conditioned cask ales, wine and spirits.

Clientele: Locals and tourists.

Dress: Casual.

More information: Phone (+44) (0) 1787 247407; website thecockatlavenham.co.uk; the pub is also on Facebook.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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