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Review: The Crown, Stowupland - ‘Top tier pub grub in a fantastic, stylish setting’

PUBLISHED: 12:08 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:08 26 August 2020

Mark Heath and his wife Liz went for a Saturday lunch at the Stowupland Crown

Mark Heath and his wife Liz went for a Saturday lunch at the Stowupland Crown

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Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz visited The Crown in Stowupland for a Saturday lunch. Here’s what they made of it...

The crispy duck cakes and tempura prawns starters at the Stowupland CrownThe crispy duck cakes and tempura prawns starters at the Stowupland Crown

Food

Before we get to the scran, one has to start, in these ‘new normal’ times with the process of arriving and getting seated at The Crown.

Rather than just wandering in and grabbing a table, now you’re instructed to enter via the side door, sanitise your hands and wait to be seated. We’d booked ahead for the bar via their easy to use online system - you can choose from bar (if you have a dog, as we did), the restaurant or the pretty, spacious garden – but, with it being a nice day, we asked if we could sit in the garden.

Pleasingly we could, so after collecting our own one-use menus and cutlery, we settled in to choose our food.

Drinks first, of course. We went for the standard two pints of Peroni via table service - they bring the drinks and you take the glasses off the tray yourselves – before ordering up the tempura prawns starter off the regular menu and the crispy duck cakes from the enticing specials selection.

They arrived quickly, and looked both appetising and delicious. They ate well too – crispy, light tempura batter encasing well-cooked, juicy prawns, with a spicy sweet chilli dip, some pickled ginger and dollops of wasabi. The duck cakes were also excellent, crispy, well-sized cakes with plenty of meat inside, drizzled with hoisin sauce and served on a bed of crispy iceberg lettuce which offered welcome freshness against the sweetness of the sauce.

The fish and chips main at the Stowupland CrownThe fish and chips main at the Stowupland Crown

A good start then, and time for the main event. My better half plumped for fish and chips - fresh haddock in Crown batter - while my eye was taken by the fresh lobster mac’ n cheese on the specials menu. If there’s lobster on any menu, chances are one of us is having it!

Liz’s fish and chips were spot on. A huge portion of perfectly-cooked, chunky fish, surounded by airy, crispy batter, which wasn’t too greasy, as so many are. The seasoned chips were crunchy and delicious, and the chip shop peas rated highly on my wife’s sliding scale of mushy peas - a subject on which she considers herself something of an expert!

She was happy then, and across the table so was I. My mac n’cheese was plentiful, gooey and rich, with a lovely sweetness and meaty bite coming from the lobster. The accompanying green salad also had a role to play - a fresh and necessary side show to the very rich main attraction.

Some of my lobster was a touch gritty, which is never a nice sensation, but overall I very much enjoyed the dish.

And thus we came to the monthly debate - to dessert or not. Full as we were, I argued it was important that we dig deep and try at least one pudding for your benefit, dear readers.

Liz, ever the trooper, agreed, and so we ordered up the creme brulee with hazelnut biscotti.

The fresh lobster mac'n cheese special at the Stowupland CrownThe fresh lobster mac'n cheese special at the Stowupland Crown

It looked pretty as a picture when it arrived, and passed the ‘crack test’ which one always has to carry out when confronted with a brulee - namely tapping the browned, caramalised covering with your spoon, and smiling broadly as it cracks to reveal its creamy underbelly.

What an underbelly this was too - wonderfully smooth, creamy and indulgent. The crunchy biscotti was perfect for dipping, or spreading some of the brulee on, while the bonus rasperries also helped cut through the richness of the dish. Delicious.

An excellent meal in lovely, sunny surroundings. We made our exit out of the front door, adhering to the one-way system. We will be back.

Service

Friendly, welcoming and unmasked, if the latter is important to you.

The creme brulee and hazelnut biscotti dessert at the Stowupland CrownThe creme brulee and hazelnut biscotti dessert at the Stowupland Crown

Our food was delivered quickly and with a smile, despite what must be trying times for those in the food industry.

Parking

A good-sized car park at the front, side and to the rear.

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The Crown does get busy though, so at peak times be prepared to either wait for a space, or find alternative parking.

The Crown in StowuplandThe Crown in Stowupland

Pizza

Not a usual sub-heading for my reviews, but an important one here.

The Crown boasts its own pizza oven and offers a wonderful range of stone baked delights. We’ve had them before and, though neither of us indulged this time, we can highly recommend them.

Setting

The excellent garden at The Crown in Stowupland.The excellent garden at The Crown in Stowupland.

The Crown is a beautiful thatched old pub, with a really nice, stylish interior - think exposed wooden beams and a roaring fire (in the winter) alongside modern flooring, toilets and bar.

The garden is lovely too - tables with umbrellas, a large paved area and even some deckchairs in good weather.

Value

My main was £19.50, which is certainly towards the very top end of prices for pub food, with Liz’s fish and chips at £14.

However, the aforementioned pizzas range from £11 to £14 - and are big enough to share, so offer really good value if you’re after a lighter lunch/dinner.

Highlight

I really enjoyed my mac n’cheese, but the brulee took top spot for me.

Liz, meanwhile, was a big fan of her fish and chips.

Summary

Top tier pub grub in a fantastic, stylish setting.

Rating: 8.5/10

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.


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