Do you ever sometimes feel like just throwing the bare essentials in a bag and switching off for a few nights? Well, that’s exactly what I did back in April, when I headed done south for a bit of an English road trip. We packed up the car and went, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it was. We saw a surprising number of attractions and got to explore some of England’s most beautiful countryside.
One of the perks of all that exploring was finding fabulous hotels and inns, which we’re already planning return visits to. We had very kindly been taken care of by The Epicurean Club – a collection of inns and pubs which are chosen for their impeccably high standards.
In Berkshire, we stayed at the Crab and Boar – a historic coaching inn which has been welcoming travellers for hundreds of years. It’s even said that Oliver Cromwell stayed here prior to the Battle of Newbury.
Happily though, the Crab and Boar is more luxurious now than perhaps it once was in Cromwellian times – there are 14 rooms in total, and we were lucky enough to have a Luxury Room complete with hot tub! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite on our side, but getting to enjoy the hot bubbles when outside was so cold and miserable was heavenly!
On such a grey evening, we were lucky enough to have reserved a table at the restaurant, and there was nowhere else we’d have rather been. The Crab and Boar is renowned for fabulous, local food, and the dining room itself couldn’t have been lovelier.
We grabbed a table by the window and perused the menu and discussed our plans for the next day.
As we debated our options (the menu is that good), we started on some freshly baked bread – a wholewheat roll and freshly baked ciabattas were truly sublime. Rather incredibly, the Crab & Boar’s head chef previously headed up the kitchens in the Four Seasons Hampshire. The bread was feather-light and absolutely delicious!
The first of the starters we went for were the Pan Fried Scallops (£11). Brought in still dripping with seawater that morning, they were perfectly cooked, and served on the most beautiful clamshell. I loved the rich hollandaise sauce, and it was a real star dish.
I couldn’t resist trying the Crab and Boar (£11), the inn’s signature dish. Hand-picked soft-shell crab cooked in a light tempura batter was placed on top of a slice of pork, garnished with handpicked crab and radishes. It was a fabulous mix of texture and flavours – and who couldn’t love the tie in with the name!?
Mains were a similarly hard choice, but we first settled on theHimalayan Salt Aged Pork Cutlet (£22). This felt like the very best Sunday roast you can imagine – real comfort food with a gourmet edge. The pork was perfectly cooked, and the contrast between the rich meat and tart cabbage was absolutely divine! The smoked apple puree gave the dish a sweetness which was nicely offset with the rich gravy – and that crisp? Insanely good!
There was no way I could resist the Lobster pasta, and honestly, this is one of the best dishes I may ever have tasted. Again, the lobster had been brought into the kitchens live that morning, so the freshness of the meat couldn’t have been better. And just take a look at that claw – it was monstrous!
The claw was placed on mounds on the most delicate freshly made pasta alongside a light tomato sauce. The pasta was absolutely divine – light and flavourful, it paired perfectly with the delicate lobster meat, and honestly, if I had to choose a last meal – this would most definitely be it!
Even though were were completely stuffed – a look at the dessert menu soon had our mouths watering! As a disclaimer, I’m not usually a fan of a deconstructed dish – they’re usually odd and perhaps a bit lazy. But at the Boar and Crown? Genius.
The Bread and Butter Pudding (£7) was incredible. Chunks of pudding – soft with vanilla custard were gloriously rich. The orange segments and marmalade really cut through the heaviness of the pudding, and the cinnamon ice cream was truly heavenly.
The sound of Tiramisu’ C&B Style (£7) was also too good to resist. Tiramisu is such a guilty pleasure, so to see such a chic take on a classic was great fun. An indulgent mascarpone mousse sat atop a coffee sponge, whilst coffee ice cream crowns a pile of chocolate crumbs.
The classic mix of flavours brought together in such innovative ways was just a joy. We savoured mouthful last into the night. It was a glorious end to an absolutely incredible meal!
You can find out more about the Crab and Boar here.