Restaurant review - The Crown Inn, Goostrey

Has The Crown Inn at Goostrey created Britain's best Scotch egg? Our reviewer is raving about it REVIEW BY Ray King

Never mind Roswell in the New Mexico desert: when extra-terrestrials eventually get round to visiting us earthlings, I reckon they’ll choose Goostrey, lured by the radio signals into deep space from nearby Jodrell Bank.

In the Cheshire village that stages the annual Goosfest – that astonishingly varied cultural programme for such a small place - they’d find a strong sense of community and if they ventured down the lane to the Crown Inn, they’d discover the epitome of a traditional Englishvillage pub.

Since its refurbishment by the growing pub company Kalton & Barlow, in whose portfolio are two of the region’s iconic inns - the Swan at Tarporley and the Boat at Erbistock – new management team, Chris Jennings and Emma Small have been building on the Crown’s popularity under the dozen-year tenure of former landlord, ex-Stoke City footballer Gerry Bridgewood who sadly died shortly after his retirement earlier this year.

And with the group’s executive chef Matthew Parker, formerly of the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa, directing culinarystrategy, the Crown’s head chef John Burton is delivering a hearty menu of retro British classics deploying excellent locally sourced ingredients inthe process.

The substantial Cheshire brick building has been a pub and a farm since 1800 and its place as a focal point in 19th Century Goostrey life is told by a gallery of fascinating old prints and photographs displayed on the inn’s walls. The recent facelift has been a sympathetic one, with period features such as oak beams and real fireplaces carefully retained. Indeed our table in the Crown’s dining area was next to an impressive black cooking range hung with cast iron pots and cauldrons – very appropriate on our Hallowe’en night visit!

The range of real ales at the bar including Weetwood Ales, brewed just outside Tarporley and the flavoursome Bridgewood Best, launched as a tribute to the former landlord, underline the Crown’s continuing status as first and foremost, a village pub even if it is casting its appeal as a destination dining venue county-wide...if not quite yet to the rest of the galaxy.

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The menu is a celebration of memory lane comfort food, from the likes of whitebait, Scotch egg and potted shrimps on the list of starters, salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes, ‘toad-in-the-hole’ and braised ox cheek as mains and baked Alaska and bread and butter pudding among the desserts. There are nods to other cuisines here and there, but Mrs K and I determined to eat like John Bull and his missus.

I began with a giant Scotch egg (�5.95) which, in case you didn’t quite grasp the meaning of giant, is listed on the menu with a further hint as to the portion size ‘big!’ Quality, however, was in no way sacrificed for quantity because, quite simply, this was the best Scotch egg I have ever had: a coarse ground, deliciously-spiced sausage meat with a lovely crispy coating encasing a perfectly done egg with a creamy, runny yolk.

The accompanying mini dish of brown sauce completed the delight. Across the candlelight, Mrs K’s duo of potted brown shrimps and home-cured beetroot salmon (�7.95), served with celeriac remoulade on crunchy croutes, delivered a raft of excellent robust flavours.

Many of the menu’s main courses are commendably offered in small and large portions; our choices just came in large. My excellent aged, medium rare and richly flavoured sirloin steak (�18.95) weighed in at 10oz and was accompanied by a roasted and peeled (nice touch) tomato, flat mushrooms, a garnish of rocket and baby chard, corn on the cob and a bowl of very good chips. Less appealing was the fact that the jug of pepper sauce, good as it was, added �2.75. Mrs K opted for belly pork (�12.95), meltingly tender but with a first-rate crisp cracking, which came in an extremely generous portion with parsley mash, fine green beans and a Hereford dry cider and stock gravy.

We rounded off by sharing a comforting bread and butter pudding with apricots and cr�me anglaise – yummy but perhaps a tad on the sweet side – for �5. The Crown has a shortish but sensible wine list of a dozen whites, a dozen reds and a selection of ros�s and sparklers. We enjoyed a bottle of easy drinking Aussie Chardonnay (�13.95) and I had a glass of the equivalent shiraz (175ml, �3.95) with that super sirloin.The Crown sparkles again.

The Crown Inn, 111 Main Road, Goostrey, Crewe, Cheshire CW4 8PE.Tel: 01477

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