We had been past the Rose & Crown a few times and kept telling ourselves we should go in one day. From the outside, it is a beautiful well looked-after 17th century building, inviting, quintessentially British countryside village type. Inside, the same. Think low ceilings, chunky furniture, Labradors asleep under tables and locals enjoying a good pint. But more on that later.
As we arrive, a warm and believable smile greets us from behind the bar. The same smile also greets us at the table this time coming from a different person, together with my complimentary glass of Prosecco (it was Mother’s Day and I was going to be duly acknowledged by these warm and amenable strangers that work at the Rose & Crown). A good start, that’s for sure.
The food was exceptionally good for pub standards. It was high-end, detailed and intricate. But most of all, it was delicious. Before you order, a slice of a fiercely salty and moist herb focaccia is placed on your side plate together with some butter, a perfect way to line your stomach in preparation for the lovely dishes to come. The scallops from the starter menu were perfectly cooked, like velvet in your mouth.
They came beautifully presented with a lovely red pepper sauce, a smoked paprika dressing and confit fennel, also perfectly prepared.
The cumin gnocchi from the main dish were creamy and the accompanying ever so slightly cheesy sauce, the pickled cauliflower and the potato skin all felt like a nice warm hug. To me, however, it needed a touch more seasoning and I had to reach for the salt shaker.
My husband’s choices (salt and pepper squid with garlic mayonnaise for starter and roast beef for main) were equally appealing and so were the children’s dishes. There is just an extra level of care in the preparation of every plate of food.
We both chose the same dessert – a salted caramel brownie with cherry ice cream and boozy cherries. I can honestly say this is the best brownie I have ever eaten. Hands down. All I can think of is how I am going to persuade the chef to give me the recipe. If only the cherry ice-cream was a little more tangy, it would have been the perfect dessert.
Now for the drinks. The choice of special beers is much bigger than the average pub and we were lucky to try two really good ones: Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil – a creamy and viscous stunning black ale with coffee notes and an Innis and Gunn Toasted Oak IPA, a wonderful woody beer (perhaps not as bitter and hoppy as a typical IPA). I want to go back for more beers!
In the end, I left The Rose & Crown with a smile and the unmistakable promise of return. The building, the people, the drink and the food all delivered, one by one. I kept repeating to myself “I really like this place” and that just sums it up nicely. It is a lovely, lovely place indeed.
Where: Cuckfield, West Sussex
Cuisine: Modern British with influences from French and Italian
Occasion: Dinner or lunch
Price: Pricey (more than a typical pub, but then there is nothing ‘typical’ about this pub)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Would I go again? Definitely yes