Smart casual dining in a friendly local

The Crown in Hartest has just been taken over.  Pictured are some of the staff (left to right) Rebecca Cawston, Darren Bush, Luke Foster, Neil Charnaud, Jamie Bridges and Angus Watson.

The Crown in Hartest has just been taken over. Pictured are some of the staff (left to right) Rebecca Cawston, Darren Bush, Luke Foster, Neil Charnaud, Jamie Bridges and Angus Watson.

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This former hall in the picture postcard village of Hartest was a 16th century pub in urgent need of some TLC. Its stunning timber frame and cosy inglenooks were like Cinderella, dressed in rags, hiding its beauty among tired furnishings and gloomy furniture.

In with a magic wand came the team at Bury’s Beerhouse and The One Bull and Ingham Cadogan to lighten the interior with white walls, stripey banquettes and quirky lampshades. It’s smart with a mix of ancient and modern that works.

A very friendly welcome awaited at the bar as I called in on spec to sample the menu, choc full of tempting offerings.

I can never resist crispy squid, which was on the specials menu. My attractive plate came with lightly battered morsels of tender baby squid, rather than the rubber band style calamari that haunts many restaurants, mango mayo and salad leaves.

Having tried a chicken pie recently at the Bull at Balsham, it was time to sample the Crown’s version. I didn’t fancy the bubble and squeak and carrots listed and switching to skinny fries and greens was no problem. The pie was small but tasty and needed the little jug of delicious gravy. No soggy bottoms here.

I am a sucker for homemade ice cream and can recommend the Belgian chocolate and the vanilla flavours.

It’s wonderful to see friendly service in a beautiful building for diners and an equally warm welcome for the local drinkers, some with their dogs. The Crown is spacious with three dining areas.