In general, the Dish Detective is a big fan of breweries, mainly because they make beer. It’s a noble calling, and one we hope continues for the foreseeable future.
But, it must be said, some breweries have besmirched their names when it comes to running pubs. Having seen the runaway success of the Wetherspoons juggernaut a few years ago, the breweries and the pubcos decided they wanted a piece of the dining action – but to compete with the bargain basement ‘Spoons they had to cut costs and corners. And this meant the baby went out with the bathwater and decent pubs were transformed into soulless rooms selling identikit burgers. No thanks.
So, while we all cling to the vision of the rosy-cheeked village landlord whose family has run his establishment since it was an 18th century coaching inn, it’s still a joy to come across a brewery-owned pub that does things properly, and The Crown Inn in Bishop’s Waltham is one such establishment. So bravo to Fuller’s.
The Crown feels traditional – wooden beams, wooden bar, and an area that acts as a snug. There’s a bar area, with a few tables for dining, and also a separate dining room. The log fire by the bar is to be commended.
The Dish Detective visited on a cold and wet Saturday. To cheer ourselves up we fancied a pub lunch – and the pub delivered. A fish and chips (£11.50) saw a crispy-battered cod and freshly-cooked chips, while a ham, egg and chips (£10.50) gave a decent helping of chips, two eggs and a thick, non-fatty and succulent slab of ham. Well worth it – and special mention to the mustard which was clearly fresh, as it brought the Dish Detective to happy tears.
Feeling decadent, we both went for a sticky toffee pudding (£6.50), and again, it was pub food as you’d hope – generous portions, well prepared, plenty of sauce and a touch of ice cream.
Being a Fuller’s pub it has the standard London Pride and ESB on tap, and on our visit had the local Goodens Gold from the Flower Pots brewery in Cheriton – an exceptional beer which is well worth a taste. And praise to the staff – uniformly pleasant and efficient.
The impressionable might be tempted to call all this an example of hygge, that Danish concept of being away from the stresses of the world – the rest of us will just call it a proper job. We rolled out happy.
Tel: (01489) 893350
(ratings out of 5)