The first thing that strikes you when opening the Crown Tavern’s food menu is just how massive it is.
The fold-out booklet, in stand-out colours and bright design, packs in a wealth of choice, for any time of day. The Filling Station, Snack Shack and Lite Bites sections cater for the snacky or lighter appetite side, there’s a lunch club, all-day breakfast, kids’ choice, grill selection, Monster Meals, Under the Bun (burgers), Hub Cap Burgers (bigger burgers), curries, Mexican, Sunday roast ... the list goes on.
Luckily for indecisive us, with so much to wade through (and there’s a board listing the day’s specials, too), there was no impatient waiter drumming their fingers on the table – orders are placed at the bar.
So, on a Friday early-evening we found a corner, set down our drinks and, after much deliberation, placed the food order.
It’s a lively pub is the Crown, not least after work on a Friday. There’s a lot going on through the week – pool, darts, quizzes, music – and, with the Friday night hubbub of bar chatter, coupled with bright lights, it was never going to be a serene experience. But it’s a convivial atmosphere and the staff are friendly and welcoming.
Surprisingly, as the mains and dessert menus are jam-packed (not literally, although there is jam in the Raspberry Macaroon Pudding), the starters choice is small – four to choose from. A prawn cocktail was our one selection, which went down well with my son.
For my main course I opted for steak and Marston’s Ale pie, from the Trusty Favourites section of the epic menu. A steak pie is one of my favourites for any pub meal, and I trusted the meat would be tender – it was – and the gravy rich and tasty – it was. A decent pastry, too, and the accompanying chips were nice and fluffy. Garden peas rounded off the plateful.
Son chose a classic hot dog with ketchup and curly fries. At a foot long it almost filled him up ... but not quite enough to prevent pudding.
Daughter often likes a steak when we eat out, and chose Rump ‘n’ Ribs, an 8oz steak with half a rack of pork ribs. The ribs came smothered in tangy barbecue sauce, and she’d chosen an extra peppercorn sauce for the steak, which was a good cut of meat.
Lancashire Hot Pot was my wife’s choice. A vegetarian version, with parsnips, swede, carrot and butterbeans, it arrived disappointingly cold and needed reheating. Its potatoes were saggy, its cheese sparse, the dish overpowered by a herb sauce.
Our two dessert choices, from a menu that ranged from waffles and various ice creams to chocolate fudge cake and a crumble, were both pleasing. The Chocolate Crownie – cookie dough and brownies – was tasty and filling, the Flakey Chocolate Cheesecake came with lashings of whipped cream and plenty of flake.
Let’s be honest, the Crown’s food is straightforward pub-chain food, largely pre-prepared, and the portions adequate but not huge – it won’t get the Michelin judges racing up here. But there’s loads of choice, the service from bar staff and waitress was excellent, and for a frills-free eat-out it’s excellent value – just under fifty quid for the four of us, including five drinks.