Rose & Crown, Warwick

You will recall I’ve been to the Rose and Crown for drinks before now, though before tonight I hadn’t twigged it is in the same family as the Saxon Mill, where I ate successfully last week. Should have realised – same (excellent) beers, same friendly and efficient black-clothed Aussie staff, same high levels of attention to detail, relaxed atmosphere, quality menu and so on.

And decor too. This time I had a splendid evening, albeit alone, sat at a table with a view of the Market Square through a perfectly proportioned Georgian window. To my left was a fireplace with logs (unlit since the weather is finally more clement), and on walls around a stunning array of black and white photos. To the right of the window was Miles Davis looking über-cool, to the left a truly glorious shot of Grand Central Station in NYC with sunlight flooding through the four semi-circular windows into the heart of the concourse.

To illustrate the point about attention to detail, after I ordered Aussie waiter brought a basket of crusty artisan bread and a dish of butter cut from the block: good bread, good butter. Maybe most diners would not remark upon that but if it were inferior bread and pats of butter you would notice. A restauranteur may say it’s perverse to judge them on bread and butter but it’s these little things that make all the difference to the dining experience. I certainly did take notice, and it’s certainly the sort of touch that deserves a mention.

A further example: when my meal arrived I was asked if I wanted any sauces. I requested ketchup and English mustard. And they arrived not as portion-sized containers but a bottle of Heinz ketchup and a jar of Tracklement mustard with teaspoon.  Following my rant about condiments, this was a refreshing change, and further illustration that a good restaurant will think about what customers want rather than being stingy about the small things.

Anyway, it was a close call on the menu, supplemented by a range of interesting specials.  I was tempted by a risotto of pea, mint and courgettes, served with home-smoked ham hock, but in the end plumped for end cap of 28-day dry aged rump steak, supplied by Aubrey’s – which is very publicised everywhere at the R&C.

A moment is due to appreciate this finely matured beef.  It arrived with a smallish footprint on the plate but a sizeable girth – at least 1.5 inches thick, maybe more; it was perfectly rare – seared on all sides but deep dark pink inside; and it had the tenderness and depth of flavour you can only find with quality meat.  Compared to other steaks I’ve eaten, this stood out a mile, possibly helped by competition from the Lazy Cow restaurant next door, which declares its steaks to be “the best in Warwickshire.”  At any rate, I would have no hesitation whatever in recommending Aubrey Allen’s steaks, and wish every restaurant would pay the same close attention to the quality of its raw materials.

Two excellent pints of Doombar accompanied my choice of dinner, a change from the Ubu I drank at the Saxon Mill.  But there I stopped, satisfied.  Next time I’d like to go with friends and try a few of their interesting deli boards, further testament to what you can do with excellent ingredients. Sadly I have but one more week to go in Warwick, but wish the Rose and Crown well – a beacon for how good pub dining should be delivered.


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