The Rose and Crown restaurant review: Hidden gem proves there is far more to Ulnes Walton than a couple of prisons
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Known largely for its two sprawling prisons, the village seldom gets mentioned for anything else. So I hesitate to say it boasts a hidden gem in case it causes too much excitement for those “residents” with an eye for such sparkly things a mile or so up the lane.
The Rose and Crown has been a pub for more than 200 years, yet it has kept itself quiet for much of that time.
Now the secret is out and diners are flocking to this refurbished eatery rescued from obscurity by partners Tom Evans and Craig Mather.
They took over a tired old alehouse in 2018 and lovingly turned it into a smart and welcoming destination which, within 12 months, was being shortlisted for a top food award.
Covid struck just as they were getting going and lockdowns proved a real challenge. But today the place is buzzing again and the boys are no doubt destined for an exciting future.
Visiting in the dark and “spent up” month of January, I honestly expected the post-Christmas blues to be more apparent, especially as it was bitterly cold and not the most attractive Sunday afternoon to venture out.
But I was wrong. The place was doing a roaring trade and the welcome we received from the staff was enough to warm any winter’s day.
The Rose and Crown is unashamedly a traditional country pub and its menu underlines that. There are lots of classic favourites, some with a tweak and some with a twist.
I tend to find most starters in a lot of restaurants struggle to catch my eye, but not here. I could gladly have sampled seven out of the 10 on the main card and all four of those on the specials board. After at least three changes of heart, I decided on the tempura black pudding fritters with a spicy peppercorn sauce at £7.95. I’ve had this combination elsewhere in the Dining Out column and loved it. But this, dare I say, was even better.
Mrs Ellis had similar difficulties choosing her opening dish before going for the Lancashire cheese and onion croquettes, accompanied by a tomato and chilli jam (£7.50). I tried one and they were divine.
Main courses offered a similar test with so many crowd pleasers on both menus. Being Sunday there were the ubiquitous roast joints and a whole host of other temptations.
The boss plumped for the restaurant’s “signature dish” of braised brisket of beef served with mash and a huge Yorkshire pud (£16.50). The meat was melt-in-the-mouth stuff and, to me, tasted like beef used to in the good old days.
I decided on the three cheese and onion pie with hand-cut chips and mushies (£13.50). Whatever the three cheeses were, they blended so well in a light short-crust pastry case. Just perfect, as was the whole experience. Those boys up the road don’t know what they are missing.