Royally good fare at The Crown at Hartest
When you visit one of the Gusto Pronto gastropubs, you are always assured of fabulous food, but The Crown at Hartest offers so much more.
Tucked away in the Suffolk countryside, the pub was already packed with diners and those simply enjoying a catch-up and a drink with friends in a convivial atmosphere when we arrived on a cold Friday evening.
With its clever balance of the contemporary – whacky trio of light shades over the tables – and the traditional – beams and a roaring open fire – its cosy ambiance welcomes you like a warm, friendly hug and immediately makes you feel at home.
And once settled at your table by the friendly, attentive staff, the food fest begins! The Crown gets it right in not offering too many choices while still catering for every taste, including vegan and vegetarian options. It concentrates on producing top quality dishes using seasonal, reguional food.
Having seen them arrive at a neighbouring table, my partner couldn’t resist the Blythburgh pork scotch egg, piccalilli, pickles starter (£6.50). A meal in itself, it was full of flavour, the egg cooked to perfection, the pickles tangy and crisp. I, meanwhile, plumped for the spiced butternut squash potstickers with noodle salad and chilli dipping sauce (£6). The noodle salad proved refreshingly crisp and fresh against the warmth of the
spicy squash and chilli sauce – the whole dish an entire delight of popping flavours.
For the main, we both went for fish dishes. My partner’s smoked haddock fillet, spinach, bubble and squeak, poached egg (£14) was both a visual and culinary delight. Again, the egg was done to perfection, the haddock plump and flaky and the bubble and squeak, a Boxing Day staple in our house, didn’t disappoint. The construction of the dish
meant it was the last thing you came across,
but my partner enthused it was easily the
From that evening’s specials menu, I went for bream fillet, fishcake croquette, kale, lemon sauce (£15). And wow, what a taste sensation. Everything from the two, yes two, bream fillets with their crispy skin and succulent flesh, to the impressive fishcake croquette (so large, I had to share half with my partner, much to his delight!), verdant kale and piquant lemon sauce delivered beyond expectation.
Beautifully presented, the mains were a generous size and sadly left us both so satiated we couldn’t find space for a dessert. But relaxing over a coffee, we sat back to soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant, social village pub – I could have stayed for hours.
*Gusto Pronto also has The Cadogan at Ingham, The One Bull and The Beerhouse, in Bury St Edmunds, and Brewshed brewery, Ingham
Call 01284 830250