Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Restaurant Review: The Crown, Wetheral

For my grandfather's 96th birthday celebration we had a family dinner at The Crown Hotel in Wetheral. Despite being one of the smart local restaurants I had never been before. A few years ago it was featured in an episode of Rick Stein's cookery show where he incorrectly identified a battery chicken as tasting organic (sadly I couldn't find the clip on YouTube).

While we were looking at the menus in the bar I had a pint of the lovely Tarnmonath Ale from the Geltsdale Brewery. I miss good quality bitters and ales which you don't seem to be able to get here in Australia. It was then through to the conservatory restaurant for dinner.

To start I had the black pudding served on a bed of mash with red wine jus. It was a big piece of black pudding that I feared would be too rich. However, I'm pleased to report that it was more delicate than I expected. It could have done with a bit more red wine jus, but apart from that it was a perfect starter. Around the table people had enormous bowls of the homemade soup and smoked salmon.

For the main course I had breast of pheasant with broad beans and a parsnip puree. The real highlight of the dish for me were the broad beans that came in a great sauce. I never used to like broad beans as a kid, but I think I might be converted. We all agreed that the pheasant hadn't been hung for very long and would have benefited from being stronger in flavour.

I didn't have a desert. Above is a photo of the chocolate torte with pistachio ice-cream that my mum ate. There was also a traditional bread and butter pudding (a bit more creme anglais required) and homemade ice creams.

I thought the service was pretty good from a team of, no doubt, young people from the village of Wetheral. In my opinion the bill was reasonable considering we had a pre-dinner drink, a couple of bottle of wine* and most people had three courses. However, others felt it was a bit on the pricey side.

The above photo is of my grandfather and I. The eagle eyed amongst will spot this wasn't taken at The Crown, but a couple of days later outside a nearby pub.

*It wasn't a very wild party and most of the olds only had half a glass of wine each. This left me to demolish a bottle that had already been corked on my own. Someone had to see the 96th in style.

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