DINING OUT AT THE ROSE & CROWN, WARWICK.
By Ann Evans.
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography
Warwick is famous for its castle, its royal connections, it’s medieval architecture – and its food, as Ann Evans discovers.
The historic market town of Warwick is steeped in history, from the magnificent 12th century Warwick Castle to the beautiful Collegiate Church of St Mary, the architecture around this ancient town is second to none. In the centre of Warwick is the Market Square – a place where people have gathered for centuries. Today it’s just as popular, with the old buildings now home to unique shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes where locals and visitors can relax and enjoy themselves.
One of those buildings is The Rose and Crown – a 17th century coaching inn brought bang up to date as a modern restaurant, pub and hotel. Over the last few years it has won several national awards, being twice named in the Top Ten UK pubs. The Rose & Crown also won Britain’s Best Brigade in 2017 run by Essential Values.
We were recently invited to go along and review the food and have an overnight stay with breakfast. The Rose & Crown serves food all day, using only the finest ingredients with everything cooked freshly by their team of chefs. Their meats come from award winning local butcher Aubrey Allen, their steak selected from the best British grass-fed herds, dry-aged for superb flavour and tenderness. Plus, they pride themselves on their wide selection of beers, wines and spirits with a host of selected award-winning gins.
It’s a lovely pub with a relaxed ambience, whatever time of day or evening. The layout of the surprisingly large building has tasteful and stylish décor, and a choice of eating areas from the main restaurant to snug alcoves and a cosy woodshed – perfect for private dining occasions.
The menu is so full of choice of elegant fine dining dishes, which look and taste superb. Prior to starters we had a small bowl of olives (£3), which were fiery with chilli. So, a little shock to the system, as I generally love hot and spicy food. One olive was enough for me, but Rob, surprisingly, loved them.
For starters I went for Spring Vegetable Risotto, Parmesan, Lemon and Parsley (£7.25). This was a lovely creamy taste and texture, with rocket and samphire running through it. Very enjoyable, and you could have this as a main if you wished, as you could with many of the dishes.
Rob does love his smoked salmon, and chose Severn & Wye Smoked Salmon, Soused Cucumber and Lemon Crème Fraiche (£7.50). “The meal was excellent,” said Rob. “I could happily eat this all day. I particularly like the lemon crème fraiche, that goes beautifully with the salmon.”
I enjoyed a glass of Pinot Grigio Rose from Italy with my meal, which was light and fruity and went well with the risotto. Rob meanwhile had a refreshing pint of Estrella Draught – needing to cool down, as it was the hottest day and evening of the year so far!
Our waitress was Laura, who couldn’t have been more helpful, answering all our questions about the dishes and the ingredients. She didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked if my spider steak could be cooked well done. I was aware that chef recommended rare to medium rare, but I’m a bit odd in that I like my meat on the over-cooked rather than under-cooked side. I did ask her to apologise to the chef if he thought it sacrilege to cook such a beautiful piece of meat in this way.
Head chef at the Rose and Crown is Darren Holloway. It was his night off, and the team in the kitchen were Sous Chef Rose Colyer, Chef de Partie Jake James,Commis Chef James Chapman, and Kitchen Porter Andy Balute.
My steak (£18.50) was cooked exactly as I liked it – tender and very lean even though I hadn’t gone for the recommended medium rare. Spider steak is also known as oyster steak, and I gather it’s the marbling of the fat in a kind of spider’s web appearance that has earned it this name. Thursday evening is Steak Night at the Rose & Crown so there was an additional specials menu to choose from. As accompaniment to mine I had peppercorn sauce, slow roasted plum tomato and triple-cooked chips which were so tasty and crunchy I struggled to stop Rob from pinching them off my plate!
He went for Char-grilled Lamb Cutlets, Baby Gem, Bulgar Wheat & Pomegranate Salad and Herb Dressing (£19). He said: “The lamb cutlets just melt in your mouth while the Bulgar wheat and pomegranate salad work really well with the lamb. The flavours and textures really complement one another.”
There was a lovely spring cheese selection to choose from, if you wanted to finish your meal with a savoury course. The full platter of four spring cheeses to share (or not) were Camembert Gillot Aoc, Rosary Goat’s Cheese, Wookey Hole Cave Aged Cheddar and Organic Cropwell Bishop. Served with chutney, warm mini-bloomer and apple (£10.50). Or you could have an individual plate (£7.75) or a Single Smidgen of your favourite cheese served with chutney, water biscuits and apple (£3.25).
Tempting though that was, I was after something sweet and selected the most delicious Panna cotta, Poached Rhubarb and Ginger Brittle (£6.25). It had the perfect wobble and was truly delicious. To accompany this, I had a glass of Monbazillac dessert wine from the Dordogne area of France, which was smooth and rich, and not too sweet, which is sometimes the case with dessert wines.
Rob had Key Lime Pie with Exotic Fruit Salsa (£6). He found the combination of sweetness and tartness to be a really nice mix. He mentioned to our waitress, Laura how his favourite dessert was sorbet. She kindly brought out five little sorbet samples: lemon, mango, raspberry, blackcurrant and ginger. All the ice cream and sorbets are from Jude’s Free-Range Ice Creams and Sorbets.
“I am in sorbet heaven!” Rob announced, declaring the ginger to be his favourite.
As I had eaten far too much, I had generously been given a complementary room for the night by Peach Pubs, who own the Rose & Crown. In fact, it is their flagship – the very first in their stable of pubs.
The Rose & Crown have 13 en suite B&B rooms, five directly over the pub and eight in the 17th century building just around the corner in the Market Square. I was surprised by the spaciousness of my room, which as well as the double bed and lovely antique chests as bedside tables, also had a sofa and armchair, desk and chair, a huge oak wardrobe – and an enormous bathroom. It also had all the usual amenities of tea and coffee making facilities, TV, radio, free Wi-Fi, hairdryer etc. Breakfast offered around ten delicious choices including of course a full English.
What I also discovered which I thought was very nice is that the Rose & Crown also welcome well behaved dogs, and if you want your dog to stay overnight with you, then there are a number of rooms set aside especially for visitors with a canine companion. Your dog even gets a rasher of bacon or a sausage for breakfast!
Rose & Crown, 30 Market Place, Warwick, CV34 4SH. Telephone 01926 411117