The Crown at Burchett’s Green is run by chef/owner Simon Bonwick, with no kitchen staff but some help from his extensive family; his son Dean runs the front of house operation. This little pub produces food of a quality that goes far beyond any reasonable expectations, the solitary chef creating elaborate classical French dishes for up to twenty people at one time. It has gained a well-deserved Michelin star. At lunch a five course menu, including coffee and home made macarons, costs an almost absurdly reasonable £28. Three courses a la carte will run from £24 to £43 plus drinks.
The meal today began with some nibbles. A palmier biscuit was made using hazelnuts that are grown in the pub garden; the biscuit was served warm and had lovely texture. Chickpea mousse came with smoked lemons and olives inside a beetroot tartlet case, the flavours combining well and the pastry being very delicate. Smoked eel went very well with horseradish cream, whose spicy bite nicely complemented the eel. Finally there was smoked haddock and quail egg. I particularly liked the chickpea mousse but these were all classy nibbles. This was followed by a further amuse-bouche of ewe milk cheese with Buzz Beer jelly and watercress sauce (15/20 average, more for the chickpea nibble).
This was followed by a dish of creamed potato with Puy lentils that had been folded into a classic béarnaise sauce with tarragon, topped with a Parmesan tuile. This was a fabulous dish, the combinations of flavours and textures working beautifully, the tuile delicate and packed full of flavour (17/20). This was followed by pig ear bouillon with poached morels stuffed with pig ear mousse, along with broad beans and peas. The bouillon was beautifully clear yet rich, the morels with their stuffing a pleasing contrast to the excellent beans (16/20).
A regular dish on the menu here is a salad of crab with cashew nuts, tomato and batons of apple with sesame dressing. The acidity of the apple is a classic foil for the sweetness of the crab, the cashew nuts adding an additional contrasting texture (15/20).
The main course was veal with sweetbread and Scottish langoustines tails, along with carrots, spinach and a veal reduction. The veal was of high quality, carefully cooked, the langoustines light cooked and retaining their inherent sweetness, while the spinach and carrots were a lovely contrast to the richness of the sweetbread and beautifully intense veal reduction. On the side was potato with crisp veal belly and further langoustines (16/20).
For pre-dessert there was a classic canelé. This was followed by a cylinder of Michel Cluizel dark chocolate with hazelnut cream, coffee cream and pear sorbet. This was suitably rich, the coffee flavour coming through strongly (16/20). A further dessert was white chocolate from the same supplier, the chocolate casing filled with mixed fruit featuring cherries and raspberries with mint, all resting in a strawberry coulis. Again this was very well made, the flavours harmonious (15/20). Coffee was Nespresso.
Service was excellent as always, and the bill came to an embarrassingly low £28 a head. Let that sink in for a moment. A five-course menu from a Michelin starred restaurant for £28 – this is not a misprint. This is less than the price of a main course at plenty of London restaurants of far lower quality than this. Of course you need to add wine and a tip to get a typical cost per person, but it would still be barely £55. The Crown at Burchetts Green is the epitome of hospitality: a real gem of a restaurant.