Very few of the pubs on the high street seemed to contain any diners, so we sort of ended up at the Crown by default as it's at the end of the road. The menu covered all the standard pub stuff, but the handwritten specials board and numerous signs proclaiming their status as a Freehouse suggested that perhaps they were making an effort. They weren't.
Things started to go badly with the non-arrival of a starter. All of the mains arrived, but no sign of the one starter that had been ordered. The following conversation ensued:
'Excuse me, we ordered a calamari starter' said I.
'oh yeah, it's just in the lift' said the waitress.
'err but it's a starter' said I.
'Did you order it as a starter?' she queried.
'well it was ordered from the section of the menu headed 'Starters', I ordered it before the main course, and asked for it 'to start' I explained.
'Oh well it's here', she replied, a touch indignant by this stage as if she was thinking 'well we didn't forget it entirely so what's the problem'.
'You'd best bring it out then.'
That was that. And what had just arrived in front of me. This:
Steak and ale pie with mash and veg. I really need to have a rant about the mash. It was the most unpleasant thing I have been served in a long time. It tasted of starchy water and had the texture of lumpy wallpaper paste. This is not an exaggeration. I can only assume it was some sort of Smash. If it was made from actual potatoes then fuck knows how they managed to create that texture. None of the rest was actively vile, in that you could eat it. You probably wouldn't want to, but you could. The vegetables were overcooked, the pastry was undercooked and the gravy was congealed budget Bisto. The chunks of meat in the pie were ok, but there weren't many of them. This cost a tenner.
Two of us had steaks (one in a mixed grill, one in a surf and turf). Both were cooked way beyond the level requested (medium) to a uniform grey throughout. And finally this:
which is belly pork. Allegedly. First time I've ever seen belly pork served in a thin slice covered in packet gravy and half cooked onions before. My friend couldn't identify what it was, but she didn't think it was pork. This cost thirteen pounds, and was from the 'Specials' board.
The waitress did come over to ask if everything was ok. We'd pretty much given up by that point. I told her that no, it was horrible. She said she would go and inform the chef. We hung around for a while to see whether this would elicit some sort of response (an apology, free drinks, anything??). It didn't. We left.
The next pub we were about to stop off at was in the process of having its drains cleaned. It stank. We headed back to the safety of Wetherspoons, which had a great selection of ales on, and on the basis of this admittedly small sample is probably the best pub in town.
|The Crown Freehouse|
2 High Street