The Crown at Burchetts Green is very much a family affair. Chef Simon Bonwick cooks alone in his kitchen, with the front of house operation run by several of his nine children. Former manager Dean has now moved on to the Waterside Inn, with his brother George taking over, with sometime assistance from sister India. Even little Rosie helps out, picking fruit from the pub garden. Despite having no commis chefs to help, Simon starts each week with an empty fridge and prepares elaborate classical French food from scratch, including elaborate sauces that can take days to make.
The short and almost entirely French wine list had just 23 labels ranging in price from £18 to £79, with a median price of £47 and an average multiple of retail price of just 2.3, which is generous by any standards (average multiples of 3 or more are the norm in London). Sample references were Chateau du Theron Cahors Malbec 2017 at £27 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £10, Pouilly Fuisse Vielle Vignes Domaine de la Chapelle 2015 at £50 compared to its retail price of £28, and Chateau Batailley 2013 at £79 for a wine that will set you back £46 in the high street.
This latest meal started with broad bean hummus with smoked almond, smoked lemon, fried parsley and black olive in a rice flour and shallot tartlet case. This was very enjoyable, the pastry nicely made and the vegetables having good flavour (15/20). It was followed by superb fish soup, served in a cup and covered with a delicate sesame cracker. The soup, today made using halibut bones and crab, had gloriously deep flavour with precisely judged seasoning. It reminded me of the fabulous fish soup that Nico Ladenis used to make back in his glory days (18/20).
Next was a dish called “Memories of Cairo” that featured a broad bean falafel with pomegranate seeds and pomegranate caramel, avocado pulses with sumac and a single large, precisely cooked Breton prawn and a Parmesan crisp. The combination of the seafood with the falafel worked well, and the pomegranate seeds gave a note of freshness (16/20).
The main course was a generous slab of halibut on a bed of spinach with a Puy lentil and celeriac pie and a bearnaise style sauce with additional fish stock and butter, with a rich mash on the side. The halibut had excellent flavour and was beautifully cooked. I particularly liked the lentil and celeriac pie, whose earthy flavours paired harmoniously with the fish (17/20).
Fougerus cheese is from the producer Rouzaire in Seine-et-Marne near Paris, a mould-ripened cow’s milk cheese resembling Brie, and here was served with excellent home-made flapjacks. Rhubarb baba was a delight, the acidity of the rhubarb just what is needed to cut through the richness of the Chantilly cream, the bread base light and fluffy as you could wish (18/20). Coffee is the Kilimanjaro blend from Nespresso.
The Crown is always an immensely hospitable place, the sense of really wanting their customers to enjoy themselves being palpable in all of the Bonwick family. The Michelin Guide singled out the Bonwicks for a special Service award in the 2020 UK Guide ceremony, and it is easy to see why. This fine tasting menu cost a mere £43 per person, bumped up to £73 a head with wine. If you think about it, the complete menu cost of £43 would scarcely buy you a main course in many Mayfair restaurants. The excellent value here is just another factor that draws me again and again to this charming restaurant.
Further reviews: 21st Jul 2023 | 02nd Jul 2022 | 18th May 2021 | 30th Sep 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