Birmingham’s foodie scene is constantly bolstered by a procession of restaurant openings, pop-ups and Michelin hopefuls. From the grown up glamour of Rofuto to the lip-smackingly rustic Andy’s Low ‘n’ Slow we are increasingly spoilt.
But not too far from Brum there people on the fringes and beyond doing some pretty great things too. In those rare moments you might want to escape the city but don’t want to let your foodie standards slip, drive for a mere 25 minutes to the tiny Worcestershire village of Crowle. It features a Post Office, rolling countryside views and one pub – the newly acquired and heavily renovated Chequers at Crowle.
Its new owners have done a stonking job on the interior with a country pub vibe of the highest order. Tartan cushions, fireplaces, lots of wood and cute banquettes to get cosy in, it’s tastefully executed. There’s a garden with cracking views too, but the main event is the food. It’s slicker than you might imagine – definitely more gastro than pub, where dishes like charred Wye Valley asparagus with garlic butter, a fried hen’s egg and truffle crumb sit alongside Aubrey Allen steaks and traditional dishes of slow braised shin of beef and the like. When we visited we managed to pick a handful of dishes, but it was a tough call.
The asparagus was delightful with bags of garlic, an oozing egg and rich truffle-y crunchy bits. A Devonshire crab and prawn cake was light and zingy with a big hit of chilli served with a radish and pea salad coated in a punchy dressing. An ideal summer dish in our book. Then, out of curiosity I made an odd choice, fried chicken although admittedly not as we knew it. The crisp seasoned buttermilk coating was less KFC, more OMG and the encased meat was perfectly succulent. Bacon gravy was great, cabbage was cabbage-y and the root vegetable mash was awesome. Yes, that’s right, we just described root veg as awesome. A rump steak was on the cards for the other half which proved perfectly pink and tender. The chips achieved the holy grail of crisp and fluffy and the roast garlic crème fraiche sauce was a revelation. We challenge you to dip a crunchy chip into its creamy garlicky loveliness and not go back for more. I thought it was about time I tried a baked Alaska having spent 39 years not eating a single one. We shared, but next time I’ll be having my own. It was so unctuously sweet and gooey that it’s really one to enjoy in its entirety not in part measures.
We reckon if you listen carefully enough you can hear the Chequers at Crowle calling you. Baaaked Alaaaska, ruuuump steaaaaaak. You hear it? Go.