Since I no longer live locally, I had not visited The Crown since very soon after the ‘Chestnut Group’ bought it from its creators. Sadly, there is now a great difference:
First off, the car park had a large pile of beer kegs in it, plus four more blocking the route to the hotel. A car, (I assume a staff member), was parked against the hedge by the building, with a ‘For Sale’ notice on it!
Next I noticed that the clever & subtle ‘The Crown’ logo on the front gable (& everywhere else), had been replaced with a brash ‘Clown’s hat’ device; in the case of the front gable without removing evidence of the original, or filling the holes, or painting over. These were the warning signs!
Inside was much as I remembered, but with some bad re-decorating. The main problem was, of course, the food. The nuts, olives & bread ‘nibbles’ were OK, though the walnuts were burnt & the olives were cheap Spanish ones.
Main courses: My lamb rump, pea & mint puree, confit new potatoes, garlic & shallot mange tout, & shallot sauce, (£18). It wasn’t very tender & rather fatty piece of lamb, in a basic lamb gravy, with three tiny squirts of pea puree, three tiny roasted (confit?) new potatoes, and a few mange tout, made up with small peas that were probably frozen.
The garlic & shallot mange tout was not present in any way in the flavour of the sauce which was very salty and in no way a separate sauce or flavour. In short, it was presented ‘on the cheap’ for £18! Not impressed! I mentioned my concerns to the server, but nothing was done.
Two of our party had the smoked paprika chicken burger, (£15.50). This was a half of a small breast of chicken, cut flat wards, so it was thin & dried out badly in the cooking. Barely edible at all. My partner took most home for the dog! The gem lettuce was dark, old, flat-leaf stuff, & I don’t think the chips were made ‘in house’. For the price, can you really not afford a whole breast of chicken? The meat menu is very limited; if you don’t want a steak (£25.50/£32.50), or offal, then just two choices! One of our party said they enjoyed the smoked fish, but the portion was tiny.
Come on Crown, we all know too well what happens when a successful eatery is taken over by a greedy chain; it happened with the same owners previous creation, The Angel in Stoke By Nayland; a raving success in the ’80s & ’90s, then almost run into the ground by stupid new chain owners. From what I see, you need to be aware of the approaching threat from a new, re-vamped ‘Angel’, If you charge too much & don’t deliver on your menu, your future is very uncertain. I, for one, will not be happy to consider returning for some time, I fear. Such a great shame, you were handed the ‘Golden Goose’, but fail to see it.