At The Crown, Simon Bonwick cooks entirely on his own in the kitchen, without even a kitchen porter to help him. His son Dean expertly manages the front of house, and to keep things in the family, in a few months the front of house will transition to another son, George. Simon Bonwick has nine children, so has a few to spare yet; his little daughter picked the blackberries from the garden that we had with one course.
Canapes comprised a little tartlet with Brittany crab combined with apple and beetroot, anchovies with tomato on toast, and a further tartlet with eel, duck liver and shallot. These were all very good, the tartlets made from flour from Doves Farm in Hungerford. The balance was good, the apple’s acidity working nicely with the sweetness of the crab, the eel and duck liver having the shallots as a foil for their richness (16/20). Bread was made in the kitchen, with the bacon bread being exceptional (17/20).
Brittany prawns came on a base of ratatouille, the vegetables excellent, coming from Aquitaine. It is hard to find good prawns these days, but these were lovely, with plenty of flavour (16/20). Turbot was a fillet from a huge 8.5 kg fish (with turbot, size matters). This was beautifully cooked, topped with a single Brittany prawn and resting on a bed of excellent spinach. On the side was a dish of yellow split peas topped with summer truffle from Perigord. This was a fine dish, the cooking of each element very precise, allowing the natural flavours to shine (17/20).
The final savoury course was a local wood pigeon that had been stuffed with veal sweetbread and foie gras, poached and then glazed. This was served with a deep reduction of veal stock with red wine and the pigeon bones, the sauce taking three days elapsed time to make. On the side were baby potatoes with shallots and also a dish of blackberries from the garden, which provided much need acidity given the richness of the meat. This was a stunning dish, looking spectacular when it was served and tasting every bit as good as it looked. This is all the more impressive when you think that this dish came from a kitchen with just a solitary chef (19/20).
A little Reblochon cheese came with very good flapjacks made from scratch. The initial dessert was raspberry tart with raspberry sorbet and coulis. The raspberries were from France and had gorgeous flavour, the sorbet having lovely texture (18/20). Rum baba is a tricky dish to pull off, but here it was terrific, the bread base completely avoiding dryness, the Chantilly cream nicely paired with mango, which cut nicely through the cream (18/20). Coffee was the Kilimanjaro brand from Nespresso.
This superb tasting menu came to just £50 a head, an absolute steal given the quality and the amount of work involved. The Crown is a delightful place to eat, the polar opposite of the cynical money-making operations, boosted with fluffy public relations but lacking in soul, that seem to infest most high streets these days. The Crown exudes hospitality from its every pore – it is a jewel of a restaurant.
Further reviews: 21st Jul 2023 | 02nd Jul 2022 | 18th May 2021 | 30th Sep 2020 | 14th Feb 2020 | 26th 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