I have a friend who is besotted with 'daily deal' websites...I mean I've dabbled, as previous reviews will suggest, yet he has taken to buying into discounted experiences, products and dinners like an elderly lady collects supermarket coupons! I jest of course...especially when he rounds up his nearest and dearest to accompany him on said gastronomical excursions; the latest constituting a six-part tapas meal for two and glass of wine each for only six-pounds apiece. What's more, given the unlikely venue of a cutesy Keynsham-based pub, we couldn't have been more intrigued...
Date and Time: Thursday 20th June 2013, 7:00pm
Name of Establishment: The Crown Inn*
Location: 63 Bristol Road, Keynsham
Reason for Visit: The lure of a suitably cheap night out
The Crown is a clean, contemporary space with an impressive beer garden; neatly landscaped and amply accommodating a number of alfresco drinkers. There is a distinctively laid back ambiance and yet, there just so happened to be a darts tournament on the evening of our visit, brought to our attention by the unmistakable bouts of sporting enthusiasm – something which provided a somewhat lively backdrop to our evening. This also underpinned the strong sense of local comradery which could, perhaps, be perceived as both a positive or a negative depending on how comfortable you feel in the face of infiltrating the good old 'local pub for local people' get-up. In any case, we made a beeline for the aforementioned garden, making the most of the disappearing sunshine – the staff seemingly un-fazed at our reluctance to take our seats within the dimly lit restaurant for our 7:00pm culinary-call. A relaxed approach which veered into outright despondence when it came to enlightening us with the menu which we had to request not once, but twice at the bar; along with our complimentary vinos which had also failed to materialise. Consequently, we learned that we didn't get a choice of dishes – rather, we'd be presented with a predetermined six-part ensemble to share between two. Now, as a person lucky enough to be void of any dietary complaints, I wasn't particularly discomposed by this serious disregard for personal taste – though those in our party who didn't eat sea food were pretty put out given that two of the six dishes were predominantly fishy. Cue dishes one and two; sweet chilli king prawns and anchovies marinated in citrus; both notably fresh and commendably flavoursome but the latter surely an acquired taste and certainly not a dish that you'd choose to serve to the average Joe!
Dish three was a Catalan Salad, comprising chickpeas, black pudding and chives. Notice a trend here? I mean, call me a food prude but black pudding really isn't a foodstuff universally enjoyed by the masses – even less so as part of a tapas-style dinner. On to dish four which was chorizo marinated in red wine; well-executed yes but plentiful, no. Dish five was a rainbow of roasted peppers sprinkled with almonds which was really rather tasty (my favourite of the six in fact) and yet between two, just not enough. On the other hand, a sizeable dish of olives was dish six – I picked the green from the mix, noting suspiciously their shop-bought demeanour despite the menu suggesting that they had been lovingly marinated in-house. We were also treated to slices of grilled ciabatta which just about curbed our hunger – though not enough to keep us from the dessert menu which made an entrance shortly after our plates were cleared. I must point out here that had I been aware that the 'hot' chocolate fudge cake I was about to endure would set me back five whole pounds, I'm positive I wouldn't have bothered; proving cold and aesthetically lacking; dry, tasteless and poorly portioned. I'm not ashamed to say that I winged bitterly with every mouthful – especially in the face of the food envy that those with the golden syrup sponge cake encouraged with their complimentary responses.
|Between four - give us MORE!|
All in all, it's fair to say that I didn't find myself overly impressed with what The Crown had to offer on this particular occasion... Admittedly, we shouldn't have expected much for a six-pound price tag and yet, one would have thought that an eatery venturing into the 'online-deal' territory would want to showcase the best that they have to offer. Although dishes were fresh, appetising and well-presented, not to mention innovative in terms of their arrangement, they were sparsely portioned and simply unsuitable for a number of reasons. I've never been to a restaurant whereby you're denied the luxury of picking from a menu and thus, vegetarians, vegans or in fact, anyone with any nature of dietary requirement would have suffered the complete lack of choice. I know that this isn't likely to be a common occurrence but unfortunately, it depicted an undeniable sense of disinterest in regards to satisfying its clientèle which really was a shame. What's more, I'm not entirely convinced that tapas is particularly fitting for pub; perhaps the management could shun the Mediterranean-inspired classics in favour of mini-plates of British fare – a bite-sized portion of fish and chips for example, drizzled with a minted pea purée or a single Yorkshire Pudding filled with roast beef and horseradish...I could go on! With brand new owners and a quick turnaround in terms of the role of head chef, it seems perhaps that those steering The Crown through its evident re-launch are attempting too much; co-badging the establishment as a restaurant and a pub (as well as an affordable B&B); I suggest that it sticks to watering the locals which for all intents and purposes, appears to be what it does best...
And now for the second opinion....
The money-saving minion gave The Crown a rating of 6/10 and in three words argued that it 'wasn't that bad...' Well that's me told...!
*For further information and a sample menu, visit: http://www.thecrowninn-keynsham.com/