First there were pubs. British pubs in the traditional sense served beer, ale, spirits and the food offering usually consisted of a packet of cheese and onion crisps, peanuts or pork scratchings-if you were lucky. Then in the early 1990’s the term Gastropub was coined and pubs started serving food, typical menus included: Steak and Ale Pie, Fish and Chips, Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash. Fast forward to the present and we now have a variety of chain and independent pubs all serving food. However, when was the last time you went into a pub and had a good meal that consisted of real food, none of it frozen all made from scratch, that tasted divine and didn’t leave you broke? Tough one to answer isn’t it?
I had the pleasure of experiencing the Crown & Garter pub in Inkpen Berkshire. Cookery author Romilla Arber took over this establishment, gave it an extensive refurbishment and installed former Claridge’s Chef, Matthew Ambrose at the helm and the end result is nothing short of amazing. Why you may ask? Why? I’ll tell you why…everything the Crown & Garter serves is made from scratch. The bread served is made at the on-site bakery, the butter is hand-made, as is the ketchup, mayonnaise and all sauces. The menu is short and to the point with a maximum of four choices for each course, including vegetarian options and all of it is seasonal. No fluffy language is used, it is written in plain English which is highly refreshing.
Where possible, locally sourced produce is used. The meats come from local farms and the beef supplier is exclusive to the Crown & Garter. The pub prides itself in purchasing the whole animal and utilises every part. Bones are used for stock, marrowbone is used for flavouring, and the rest of the animal is served accordingly for beef think: ribs, thick cut steaks, delicious hamburgers, the brisket lent itself to the most delicious salt beef sandwich ever.
Although just 24, Head Chef Matthew Ambrose really knows his stuff and this is reflected in the food served. The menus are seasonal, well thought out with a mix of classics and contemporary. Above all real food is served. It is good honest food, nothing too fancy, served simply to allow the flavours to really shine through and quite frankly utterly delicious. I could wax lyrical about each course I had and go into great details regarding each one, however, I shan’t because food like this needs to be experienced and experience it you must! After a visit to the Crown & Garter the question; “When was the last time you went into a pub and had a good meal that consisted of real food, none of it frozen all made from scratch, that tasted divine and didn’t leave you broke?” will be as easy as a delicious home-made chicken and mushroom pie, to answer!
In addition to the pub, there are 10 excellent rooms. All are located a few steps away from the pub and situated around a pretty courtyard garden. All of the rooms are individually designed and feature King Size beds, plenty of wardrobe space and rainfall showers. As they say, small is beautiful and this is certainly the case!
If you wish to purchase a loaf of the delicious bread served in the Crown & Garter to enjoy at home, look no further than the onsite bakery. Open from 8.30am-4.30pm Tuesday to Sunday, the bakery serves and array of tempting treats and scrumptious sandwiches. Pop in and take some doughy delights home with you-you won’t regret it!
Dinner for two comprising of three courses, water, bread from the on-site bakery and home-made butter, service and a glass of wine each came to under £85.
The Crown and Garter is located at Great Common Road, Inkpen Common, Near Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 9QR
t: 01488 668 325