Monday 14 December 2009

The Crown & Garter, Inkpen Common, Berkshire

An understated country pub dating from the 17th century, the Crown & Garter's bars and restaurant are fairly plain with simple pine furniture. The period clutter and memorabilia you find in many other old pubs are noticeable by their absence. But the food is straight out of a traditional cookbook. On a Sunday lunchtime, the main courses include classic English staples, such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or fish, chips and mushy peas, priced around £10 or £11. Perhaps the most unusual option is the Dorset crab and spinach lasagne, which is a creamy, well-balanced and satisfying dish. Another winner is the steak and kidney pudding, which is packed with delicious chunks of slow-cooked meat wrapped in a coating of suet and doused in a fine stew. It goes well with a pint of Ramsbury Gold, a flavourful, hoppy real ale. In December, the main courses are accompanied by terrines of precisely-cooked broccoli, carrots and sprouts. Children can have a half-price, half-size roast, chicken nuggets and chips or sausage and chips. The pricey deserts (£6 each) are not quite so generous or tasty. You might find the average bread and butter pudding, swimming in custard, a disappointment after a top-notch main course. Still, with welcoming, polished service, the Crown & Garter is a fine pub-cum-restaurant. 8/10