In the interests of not coming across like a bit of a git I think it’s prudent for me to remind ourselves that I review pubs. If a venue is purporting to be a pub then I’m going to treat it as such. Unfortunately for The Crown that’s bad news because although it says it’s a pub it isn’t.
Situated opposite Victoria Park The Crown is an attractive venue spread across two stories with a quirky little terrace on the first floor to enjoy in the summer. There is no escaping the fact that this is all very well thought out and an enormous amount of effort has been put into making this look pretty great. Tasteful prints of 30’s skiing posters, eclectically decorated bookshelves, funky cushions and wooden floors throughout. I’m always a fan of multiple seating options and here you have the full range; high tables, sofas, stools, booths, armchairs or window seats, take your pick. In terms of interior decoration and comfort I can’t fault it.
Now; onto the elephant.
Sat with a pint here I couldn’t help but allow my nosy little beak to take a gander at the rest of the clientele. Standard cross section for the area; groups of young folks, yuppie families with matching UGG boots and a smattering of couples in more secluded corners. What these people had in common was that they were all eating. Now I’m all for pubs serving food. Some do it well and give you hearty portions of greasy beer accompanying delight whilst others do it poorly and overcharge you for a meal more disappointing than a Robbie Willams single. The Crown does neither as it turns out because it’s not a pub. Given that everyone else was eating I decided to join them and discovered some things which drew me to that conclusion.
Firstly; It’s expensive. You’re not getting much change out of fifteen quid for most things on the main menu and a pudding is going to be at least six quid – pretty steep for a bit sponge and toffee sauce.
Secondly; You’re going to need to be specific. If you go to the bar and ask for ‘the fish’ and are hoping for something beer battered resting on a big pile of chips then be careful because there are 3 options. My failure to specify which I wanted and the bar man’s failure to clarify resulted (after staring at it in disbelief for 5 minutes*) in me eating haddock chowder. This is because there are several different menus and menuettes for different bits of the pub and different times of the day.
Thirdly; You’re going to be looked after. Attentive doesn’t really do justice to how much care the staff lavished on us once we’d ordered food. In fact I’d go so far to say that it became proper table service and I only really needed to get up to go to the bar because I drink faster than is really sensible.
These things are not necessarily criticism. But they are not characteristics of a pub and that’s what I went there to assess. The Crown is not a pub it’s a restaurant; in that category it would score very highly and if that’s what you want I’d definitely endorse a visit. However judging it as I must, as a pub, it falls short of the mark.
*Incidentally this is also how long it took for me to feel hungry again after eating the delicious food which was dished out in a portion that might just have sated the appetite of a small gibbon.