Tuesday night had come around again and that could only mean one thing...it was date night and committed to keeping this new-found tradition alive, The Boy and I decided to shun the bright lights of the City Centre in favour of an old-school style 'Gastropub' which, recommended by our parents, is nestled within the picturesque village of Wick...
Date and Time: Tuesday 27th September 2011, 17:45
Name of Establishment: Rose and Crown
Location: 44 High Street, Wick, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Date Night...Part Two
Part of the Chef and Brewer Company,* the Rose and Crown is one of those traditional country pubs in which you cosy up to your nearest and dearest, A beautiful listed establishment built in the 16th century and steeped in local history, (apparently John Gulley, the first bare-knuckle fighter in the Country used to call this place home), it is quaint and quirky with exposed wooden beams, low ceilings (in places so low that you have to stoop a little to pass – yes even me, at a petite 5'4''!) and when it’s cold enough, a roaring open fire.
Staff are polite and efficient and although we were a little miffed that table-service had been implemented shortly after The Boy and I had placed our order at the bar, we were satisfied that our questions and concerns were addressed, for the most part, with a positive, can-do attitude. However, it would be fair to say that there was a degree of defensiveness as soon as the etiquette slipped in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, the concerns I am referring to were fundamentally associated with The Boy’s main course and for that reason, I have decided to split this review in two and allow The Boy to run with his unique interpretation of the dish that he had been served.
First though, my review of the 'Chorizo Chicken' (£9.75) which constituted a juicy grilled chicken breast under which nestled a chunky slice of chorizo sausage and under that, an enormous heap of sweet potato mash. Now, I'll admit that I'm easily pleased when it comes to sweet potato as it is without a doubt, one of my favourite vegetables and this variety did not disappoint proving smooth, creamy and well-seasoned with a beautiful spicy warmth that it had taken from the chorizo. Furthermore, with crisp green beans and the cleansing coolness of sour cream, the dish really had an interesting arrangement of contrasting tastes and textures and in fact, the only element that didn't particularly appeal was the sweet chilli drizzle which had, in my view, a rather abrasive after-taste. That said, I can conclude that this was a delicious and well-executed dish.
Whilst we're on a high, it is worth noting that the Rose and Crown offer an ample range of tipples; all the usual suspects as well as a seasonally influenced line-up of wines, an ever-changing range of guest cask ales and even a cocktail menu! In addition to this, suggested food and drink pairings have been noted throughout the menu which seemed to indicate the thought that had been given to its content and the ingredients sourced for each dish. With this in mind, I'm ashamed to reveal that I unimaginatively opted for a crisp Chardonnay (a snip though at under £3 for 175ml) whereas The Boy chose an Italian bottled larger – the perhaps lesser sourced, Birra Moretti which he commented made a refreshing change to Peroni.
And now for the bad news....After finding that his ‘Gourmet Burger’ (£9.50) had been plated without the advertised bacon, ‘classic burger dip’ and with just two small onion rings limply strewn on the edge of the plate, The Boy was far from impressed. This, plus the salad which appeared a little lack-lustre to say the least and the quality of the dish overall brought about this review…
“When one pays restaurant price for pub grub...in a pub, you'd expect at the very least to get food of a high standard and maybe you might get the chance to say, 'hmm, it's almost like we went to a restaurant.' Unfortunately, when my 'Gourmet' burger arrived, the first thing I picked up, before my cutlery, was the menu...just to check that it didn't say J D Wetherspoon on it! But alas, I wasn't mistaken, just disappointed. Although I hadn't said, nor been asked how I wanted my 'steak burger' cooked, if I had done I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have said, 'burnt on both sides, oozing with grease and plenty of salt please'! Now, I'm no cretin, I've had burgers in many pubs and restaurants from Cornwall to Sheffield and fantastic food has been enjoyed at The Rose and Crown previously – they do a cracking Sunday roast I can tell you. What I believe has happened here is what I like to call 'FSS' or, 'Fluctuating Standards Syndrome' which many establishments suffer when they try to accommodate every food-related want imaginable. But it really shouldn't be a case of choose badly and 'unlucky mate!' It's an evening meal I'm after, not the lottery...that said, I wish I had lucked-out and had Sammy's plate!”
And so, two very different experiences, some rather serious food envy and a spot of sulking demonstrated by The Boy which meant that we didn't stick around for dessert! Upon expressing his initial dissatisfaction with the composition of the ‘Gourmet Burger’ the staff agreed to charge for the standard burger (£7.75) instead. Despite further discovering the burger itself was lacking (albeit edible), The Boy decided to write off the experience and made a mental note to order something a little less mainstream in the event of a return visit. And so, I was really hoping to be able to urge you to deviate from what the City Centre has to offer and dine somewhere a little off the beaten track and although The Boy’s review isn’t exactly glowing, don't let it put you off completely. I think that The Rose and Crown just need to concentrate on perfecting fewer dishes; the notion of quality over quantity which The Boy also alluded to amidst his rather scathing comments. At present there are just so many options; pub favourites, burgers and steaks, fish dishes, Chef Recommendations and Specials – thus, a multitude of ingredients and combinations to work with and therefore plenty of potential for mistakes to be made. That said, it's a triumph when they get it right, evidenced by my main course which was fresh, flavoursome and generously portioned. Thus, somewhat hit and miss; worth the risk in my view (for the country-bumpkin setting and the aforementioned Sunday Roasts if nothing else) but not if you have to bust a gut to get here...a shame as in my opinion, the margin for potential far outweighs the margin created for error...
To note, the Rose and Crown offer lunchtime and evening deals and from 5:00pm, two courses are £9.99 and three, £11.99. Their Thursday Curry Night, Friday Fish Night and Sunday Roast are also very well attended.