Saturday, August 11th 2018 – The Crown Inn, Weston
On a cold, damp Saturday evening (and wasn’t that a shock after the summer it’s been so far) we found our way to the Crown Inn in the tiny, tiny village of Weston, just north of Silverstone. Weston is not exactly famous, with the extent of its Wikipedia entry consisting of a mere two paragraphs:
“Weston is a village located in the south west of the English county of Northamptonshire; it is part of South Northamptonshire district. It gives its name to Weston Hall, the home of Sir Sacheverell Sitwell from 1927 until his death in 1988.
It forms the civil parish of Weston and Weedon with neighboring Weedon Lois (also known as Lois Weedon). The population of the civil parish at the 2011 Census was 960.”
Apart from that, nothing, though the inn itself has apparently been in place – and in use as an hostelry – for around 5 centuries. The pub’s website claims that it is the last place where Lord Lucan was ever seen, though I can’t imagine what he would have been doing in a pub in the middle of nowhere, and cannot find any corroborating evidence for their claim. There is a suggestion that he was seen in a different Crown Inn, in Groombridge, which being close to the Channel ports makes far more sense.
Anyway, the pub itself is rather lovely, with a number of small rooms, with a handful of tables in each, a menu heavy on “pub classics” but also some imaginative alternatives.
Which was how I came to start my meal with the salt and pepper fried squid, chorizo, squid ink creme fraiche, pickled fennel and chilli. It was decidedly lively, but the squid was just the right side of chewy, the chorizo was tasty and has started to ooze its oil very pleasantly, and although the squid ink creme fraiche looked a bit unappetising, being a rather unpleasant shade of grey, it tasted just fine, with a slightly acidic creaminess that worked well with the heat.
Lynne ordered the salt cod fish cake, which was small but perfectly formed, and came with some crispy croutons, and a couple of spoonfuls of brandade. As I say, different options. We shared the two starters between ourselves and our friend G who was dining with us en route to the weekend’s Shelsley Walsh hillclimb event.
For a main G chose the sun-blushed tomato and basil spaghetti with chilli, parmesan and basil pesto, and opted to add halloumi to it. The alternatives were chicken or king prawns, or you could just go with no extras. She seemed happy enough with it, and liked the pesto and sauce. Apparently the halloumi was pretty good too.
I decided that despite it being August the weather justified the pie of the day, in this instance a beef Bourguignon pie, with thrice fried chips, and vegetables. The pie was delicious, full of tender chunks of beef, tiny onions, mushrooms and lardons, in a very rich gravy. It was everything I could have hoped for. The chips were not all that good, sadly. They were somewhat flaccid for chips that should have been crispy from going through the frying process three times. A later conversation with the landlord revealed that the normal species of potato that they use for their chips were unavailable; the substitute variety was not as good. I did suggest they should maybe temporarily remove chips from the menu, but he said he couldn’t do that because there’d be a riot. I suppose he had a point…
Altogether excellent was the Thai green baby monk fish tail, king prawn, and hake curry, served with turmeric-infused basmati rice, a small cucumber raita, and “coriander flat bread” that turned out somewhat unexpectedly to be poppadoms. I wasn’t too unhappy because I don’t think we could have managed anything akin to a naan bread given the size of the portions. It was a lovely curry, not too hot but with a depth of flavour that I liked very much.
The wine we chose was pleasant too, a 2014 Esprit de Lussac, from Lussac-Saint-Emilion, which is basically one of the five “satellite” appellations that surround Saint-Emilion proper. The wines are not as prestigious, but are still of a perfectly respectable quality, and are priced quite a bit lower, thus offering pretty good value for money.
Eventually we got round to considering dessert. G went for the sticky toffee pudding, which arrived as a big gooey block with plenty of toffee sauce merrily drizzled around it and pooling in the hollow at the top. She demolished it with great enthusiasm so we can only assume it was very good indeed.
Lynne and I were somewhat more restrained as we shared a cheeseboard between us. When we saw how big it was I think we were quite relieved not to have gone for one each! It would have been rather more than we could have managed.
We’ll be putting the Crown Inn on the list of “must go back”. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and very welcoming. I can imagine in winter it would feel like a massive, warm hug. Oh, and Sue and Chris who used to own and run the Roade House were there celebrating her mother’s 80th birthday. Apparently they’re regulars, so you know it’s got to be good.