We had the pleasure of listening to Parky's dulcet tones at The Crown. A family run labour of love, this Michelin-starred pub is situated in the Berkshire village of Burchetts Green, a short drive from Heston’s Fat Duck and Tom’s Hand and Flowers.
Chef Patron Simon Bonwick runs the kitchen singlehandedly whilst his son Dean leads front of house with great enthusiasm and charisma.
The Crown serves the kind of high end French food which you’d expect to see in far grander surrounds than a country pub. But, the compact menu of five starters and four mains reassures you that the kitchen team (of one) hasn’t spread itself too thinly.
A little nibble saw a fine pastry case filled with smooth chickpea puree topped with a salted smoked almond and plump green olive. It was an indicator of things to come - traditional and refined yet packed with flavour.
Whilst Mrs G enjoyed an excellent glass of dry Riesling (£12), I had a homemade damson, sloe and juniper cordial with tonic (£4). Made using berries picked from local hedgerows it was chock-full of fruit.
Two types of warm white bread were both excellent yet completely different - a light and thinly crusted pain de campagne and an uber-crusty complex sourdough made with yoghurt and grape juice.
A special starter of crab (£9) comprised of flakes and hunks of sweet white flesh lightly coated in mayonnaise. A meticulously skinned and deseeded tomato, batons of crunchy apple, a drizzle of honey and honeyed cashew nuts completed the first rate combination.
My medium-coarse Ardeche style pate (£11) was a proper looker and a taster. The rich pork pate was surrounded by meaty jelly and thin cabbage leaf and accompanied by a comedically small dot of whole grain mustard mayonnaise, textbook crackling, and richness busting baby pickles.
Mrs G ordered a well-fortified pie for main (£28). The golden crenellated crust was loaded with delicately gamey and pull-apart tender pieces of venison coated in a thick gravy spiked rowan berries.
A 52 day dry-aged fillet of Black Angus beef (£34) was steamed to a perfect un-bloody rare. It’s lack of crust from frying or roasting meant that a savoury boost was instead delivered by funkily fragrant trompette mushrooms. A fine beef sauce was supremely glossy and meaty whilst accompaniments included a fondant potato which oozed butter, a coarse mix of mashed carrot, swede and leek, potato puree and a tender chestnut.
Pre-dessert saw freshly baked creamy rice pudding dotted with fragrant apricot jam. It was served in a ludicrously heavy yet teeny weeny copper pan.
An armagnac baba (£9) was as delicious as it was sophisticated looking. The light, moist sponge deftly balanced sweetness with the warmth of booze whilst diced prunes, light whipped cream and chopped nuts all delivered texture and interest.
A little glass of armagnac was served on the side in case I wanted to top up the booze levels; it was already on the nail.
Mrs G’s dessert (£9) resembled the diminutive Stone Henge from Spinal Tap. Whilst the presentation was wittily abstract, the flavour combinations were reassuringly familiar - the rich, creamy cheesecake was joined by crunchy hazelnut clusters, blobs of intense marzipan like puree, cubes of cleansing pear and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream.
Complimentary coffee and fresh mint tea were served with first class petit fours - a pistachio macaron filled with fresh cream and pistachio puree and a very clever beef dripping truffle which tasted a lot better than it sounds. A savoury, nut studded (and only very faintly meaty) glaze was balanced by an interior of rich dark chocolate truffle and salted caramel.
Our lunch at The Crown was magnificent from the sophisticated French cookery to the warm service. If you’re ever en route to London on the M4, I’d recommend a detour.
Address - The Crown, Burchetts Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 6QZ
Web - http://thecrownburchettsgreen.com/
Telephone - 01628 824079