The Crown Chop House, 16 High Street, Old Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP7 0DH
There is nothing quite like eating a meal in the place in which you are staying. Knowing that when your belly is stuffed and you’ve had too much wine, all you have to do is walk up the stairs to bed. Dinner at The Crown was just that. The restaurant is a cosy, yet airy room with a very relaxing feel about it. Chunky solid wood tables with pewter side plates, a gentle mishmash of decor. They serve a Chop House style menu – good old British fare, a lot of meat (cooked on the Josper grill) and pies etc. Chop Houses are a style of eating which was common in most coaching inns around Britain, an institution dating back to the 16th Century.
Outside in the courtyard there is a Summer Kitchen, a charming terrace and BBQ area that was sadly quiet on our visit, shame as it’s a great idea and lovely setting. We wondered if the prices were a touch too high: £10 for slow cooked lamb in a brioche bun with salad for example. The side of Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and gravy £4 however sounds like most incredible side ever!
The kitchen is headed up by David Hawkins, previously head chef at The White Oak in Cookham where he was nominated in the Top 30 New Gastro Pubs 2010, and the Michelin red guide 2010 and 2011. The staff are on the ball and very knowledgeable, one of the first things we noticed was how passionate they are about their hotel, the menu and their produce - both food and wine. Several diners were asking questions about the food, where it had come from, how it was cooked. This is not something we notice often and it was nice to see.
Talking of wine, the list was fairly extensive, seeing as it was a special occasion we chose a bottle of 2006 Primitivo Gioia Del Colle, Fatalone, Puglia, Italy £32. Now we wouldn’t normally select such an expensive bottle but it was our first wedding anniversary, we were wed in Puglia so a Puglian wine was a must. The same wine out there would have set us back just a few euros though.
We started off with a pre-starter taster, the most amazing chilled soup I’ve ever had Wood roast pepper £4.50, the chunks of mozzarella somewhat ruined it for me, but only because I am a freak and can’t eat the stuff. Luckily the cheese was fairly easily avoided.
Seeing as we’d gone for steak I wanted to keep it light so I had the Summer vegetable salad with artichokes and salad cream £5.50 | £10. A delicious salad, loved the Tiger tomatoes, everything was crisp and fresh, the homemade salad cream gentle but still with enough tang.
Ade’s Coarse country pâté with pistachio wrapped in bellotta ham, £7 arrived with a generous amount of toast (makes a change) that was proportionate to the pâté. The crushed nuts added extra bite to the already textured pate and the chutney supplied the sweetness.
Then it was time for the best bit. Meat. All 700 grams of it. Our Rib of beef £6.50 per 100g with Bone marrow sauce £2.50 was served with three cute little jars of homemade sauce – brown sauce, tomato and a mild grain mustard, we loved the brown sauce so much we ended up asking the chef if we could take some home. They really ought to sell these sauces, they’d make a fortune. The steak also came with some fondant potatoes, tapanede and a pile of onion relish. I had been eyeing up the Hand cut chips £4 I’d seen go past, so once I saw that there probably wasn’t enough potato to go around I ordered a portion, much to Ade’s dismay. Am so glad I did as they were damn good.
Now our benchmark for good steak is the Hawksmoor, we don’t often order it elsewhere as we only end up disappointed. Luckily in this instance we weren’t, we needn’t have been concerned. The Crown gets their meat fresh in daily and display the cuts and weights on a board much like the Hawksmoor, crossing them off as they sell out. This wasn’t the only similarity we spotted, the little black cast iron pots are very Hawksmoor and the menu design strikingly similar too, quite possibly someone there is a fan, otherwise what a happy coincidence.
We devoured our steak, the perfect amount for two and still had a little bit of room for pudding. The Elderflower poached pineapple with buttermilk panna cotta £6.50 sounded like the perfect thing, and intriguing also. Ade opted for Eton mess with strawberries and shortbread £6, that was his idea of a ‘light’ option! Little did we know we’d be treated with a pre-dessert dessert. Donuts with a white chocolate custard £6.50 they were going on the menu the next day. The smell hit us instantly, the waft of fun-fairs. I was worried the custard would be too sickly with the donuts but it was delicate and light, just a hint of white chocolate and the donuts themselves weren’t too heavy. What a fantastic dessert, one we’ve been dreaming of ever since. Ade still managed to consume all of his Eton Mess, which was made less of a light option with the addition of shortbread, a great touch. I was relieved when my dessert was placed before me, a small portion, I probably would have been disappointed in its size if I hadn’t already had the donuts though.
By now we were well and truly full and happy. We took our remaining wine and content yet swollen bellies into the bar, and snuggled into the sheepskin throw draped chairs before heading up the creaky stairs to bed. To read the full review of our stay, click here.
For more information or to book a table, please contact the Crown
Telephone: 01494 721 541
The Crown Chop House,
16 High Street, Old Amersham,
Bucks, HP7 0DH
+44 (0)1628 825 881
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Nearest station: Amersham