Rose And Crown, Warwick, Restaurant Review

PUBLISHED: 17:04 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:14 20 February 2013

Dining at the Rose and Crown

Dining at the Rose and Crown

Warwickshire Life editor Colin Clark joins the happy throng wining and dining in Warwick's Rose and Crown.

Warwickshire Life editor Colin Clark joins the happy throng wining and dining in Warwick's Rose and Crown.

Nick Drake was playing on the sound system when we arrived (do they still call them sound systems or are my kids right and am I just trapped in a time capsule?).

Well, Nick might not be everyone's cup of tea but, as far as I'm concerned, music from the Warwickshire born singer/songwriter, who came to an untimely end in 1974 aged just 26, makes for a very good start to an evening - maybe the kids are also about me being slightly odd in my musical tastes.

But we hadn't turned up at Warwick's Rose and Crown to listen, we were there to eat - would the menu match the music?

There are some very good pubs and eateries in Warwick but, in my opinion, none better situated than the Rose and Crown. Nestling in the corner of Market Place, it really does have that 'centre of the town' feel to it and on sunny summer evenings, like the one when we visited, the customers sat outside enjoying a drink and watching the world go by added to that "look at me, aren't I a fun place to be" sort of atmosphere that the pub exudes.

And make no bones about it, this is definitely a pub. It may serve first-rate food but the whole feel of the place says pub. Good hand-pulled ales, a big selection of continental lagers and an excellent, well-priced, wine list vouch for that.

Lively and full of friendly noise, diners chatter louder to be heard above the drinkers who, in turn, chatter louder still to make themselves heard. If I'm making this sound like a terrible place to eat then please forgive me, it's great. Informal, friendly and fun. It is the enjoyable noise of people having a good time and I was happy to be amongst it.

So, onto the menu and even there you are tempted to share the fun with a nibbles board for two, at 8.75, offering cheese, fish, meats and antipasti or even a mixture of all four. This comes with a huge chunk of bread and some excellent homemade chutney. Other starters, including hot smoked salmon with crayfish and cucumber salad with a sweet chilli dressing; crispy aromatic duck pancakes with hoi sin sauce and crab and clam linguine with a lemon and chilli dressing, may well be tempting but just try a mixed board at least once - great fun and also great value.

Onto mains and dining partner Sue went to the specials board for pan-fried Cornish plaice with wild mushroom fricassee and absolutely beautiful Jersey Royals covered in butter and a sprinkling of salt. I'm not a big fan of plaice, a bit too fiddly for me (I have an aversion to most dishes that could result in me chewing on small fishbones, childish I know but what can I do?) but Sue declared it first class and so well cooked that, with just a little skilful handling, the bones remained safely on the plate. As for the Jersey Royals, well it's a sharing sort of pub so I happily took the lion's share!

I opted for Jimmy Butlers' free-range bangers and mash with onion gravy. Now I have to admit the name of this dish did make me smile. The thought of sausages being allowed to roam free as nature intended was, indeed, a strange image.

"You know what they mean," said Sue, failing to find the joke as funny as I did. "If they said bangers made with free-range pork you'd just accuse them of being pedantic."

Whatever, the sausages were fantastic and at 9.00 this really was great food at proper pub prices. I'm a bit evangelistic about sausages. We, as a nation, eat far too many cheap and rubbishy ones while failing to sing the praises of proper meaty, tasty, succulent sausages. These were of the kind that Britain can be proud of.

A rest was needed before sweets could be consumed and even after a lull in the feasting we decided to share a hot chocolate pot with crunchy ice cream. It arrived looking like a small chocolate cake but, once through the outer layer it poured forth hot melted chocolate. I'm glad we shared, it was lovely but, after the size of the meal we'd just had, one each would have been chocolate overkill.

We finished with a couple of coffees and a chat with assistant manager Charlie Seccombe who joined the Peach Pub Company (owners of the Rose and Crown and several other pubs in the Midlands) about three years ago.

"The company really does seem to know what people want when it comes to pubs. We really do cultivate a friendly, 'it's your local' sort of feel. We make sure we get to know our regular customers but we try our best to treat all our visitors as regulars. I know that might sound a bit cheesy but that really is what we try to do."

As for the food, Charlie assured us that head chef Gavin Allcock did all he could to source food that was not just local but ethically produced. "He really lives and breathes his job and his menu shows that. He also likes to change the menu regularly to enable him to use seasonal produce wherever possible."

We left the Rose and Crown about 10pm and the place was still buzzing - admittedly Nick Drake hadn't made a reappearance on the "sound system" but by that time the cheerful chatter of people enjoying themselves was all you needed to hear to realise that this was a great pub to visit.

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