The Crown at Burchetts Green changed ownership in 2022, and is now run by Dominic Chapman, who has since 2014 run the nearby Beehive in White Waltham. Prior to that he spent seven years at The Royal Oak, earning it a Michelin star, having formerly trained at The Fat Duck, Hinds Head and Kensington Place. The Crown reopened under the new ownership at the end of June 2022. As before, there is an initial bar area leading into a main dining room, seating around twenty customers. The room has had a lick of paint and there is still the little conservatory area with three tables looking out over at the village from the front of the pub.
The menu offered three courses for £55, or two courses for £45. There were four la carte options for each of the starters, mains and desserts, plus some bar snacks (priced extra). The short wine list had detailed notes on each of its 16 full bottles and ranged in price from £42.50 to £199, with a median price of £64 and an average markup to retail price of 2.7 times, which is pretty fair, and a lot less than the three times or more (sometimes much more) that is normal in London. Sample references were `L'Expressió del Priorat` 2020 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £20, Old Vines Swartland White Blend Mullineux Signature 2021 at £58 compared to its retail price of £25, and Rathfinny Wine Estate Blanc de Blancs 2017 at £89 for a wine that will set you back £37 in the high street. For those with the means there was at David Moret Meursault `Les Narvaux` 2020 £170 compared to its retail price of £90, and Château Durfort-Vivens Margaux 2ème Cru Classé 2015 at £199 for a wine whose current market value is £70.
We tried a couple of bar snacks. Scotch egg had a pleasant breadcrumb coating with nicely seasoned pork filling surrounding a central quail egg (14/20). Also enjoyable was Welsh rarebit, with melted cheese on toasted sourdough topped with a few chopped chives, a touch of mustard cutting through the rich cheese, a simple but comforting dish (14/20). The dish of the meal for me was a classic fish soup, served with rouille and gruyere on croutons. Fish soup should have plenty of flavour, and this one had that in abundance, the soup using a mix of red mullet, slip sole, turbot and bream, precisely seasoned. I rarely see soup on menus these days, perhaps because it does not offer much to see on Instagram. This is a shame since a properly made one like this is a joy; it reminded me a little of the Nico Ladenis fish soup of yore (easily 16/20).
Rabbit and bacon terrine came with pickles, onion marmalade and toasted brioche. This was another well-made dish, the terrine having plenty of flavour, the richness of the meat balanced by cornichons and the nicely judged onion marmalade (15/20). Fillet of turbot was from a decent sized 5kg fish, poached and served with a garnish of samphire, brown shrimps and a champagne sauce. The fish was carefully cooked and the creamy champagne sauce allowed the flavour of the turbot to shine (15/20). Also good was roast sea bream with sweet peas, cabbage and a chive butter sauce, with a bowl of little Jersey Royals on the side. The bream was nicely seasoned and precisely cooked, the vegetables went well with it and the herbs of the sauce nicely lifted the flavour of the fish (15/20). I should add there was also some very pleasant cheese and onion bread, made from scratch in the kitchen.
For dessert, gooseberry crumble used gooseberries from nearby Hurst Farm (which also supplies the flowers for the restaurant), combined with hazelnuts and topped with vanilla ice cream. Gooseberries can be excessively sour, but there was just enough sugar to balance this, and the hazelnuts added an extra texture to the crumble (13/20). I was less taken with a simple dessert of English cherries with buttermilk cream and granola, which had in-season cherries with decent flavour. I am all for simplicity, but I am not sure that a bit of granola and some buttermilk cream really adds up to a dessert from a kitchen led by a chef who has previously held a Michelin star (12/20). This was sufficiently early into the reopening that the coffee machine had yet to turn up, but we were presented with a couple of petit fours, including a very good passion pate de fruits.
The bill came to £79 per head, and service, led by the former manageress of the Beehive, was excellent. If you ordered three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might come to around £85. Overall, this was a very enjoyable evening, The Crown offering a very appealing menu and generally well-made food. It was early days and there are some things to be tweaked; in particular the desserts were the weak link of the meal, but this is already shaping up to be a charming restaurant, and based on the chef’s track record I expect the food to progress further from this solid start.
Further reviews: 18th May 2021 | 30th Sep 2020 | 14th Feb 2020 | 26th Jul 2019 | 05th Jul 2019 | 16th Mar 2019 | 08th Mar 2019 | 07th Dec 2018 | 06th Jul 2018 | 29th Mar 2018 | 23rd Sep 2017 | 20th Jan 2017 | 09th Apr 2016 | 05th Sep 2015 | 28th Mar 2015 | 10th May 2014 | 02nd Nov 2010