Dining Out: The Crown Inn, Marston Montgomery
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 August 2016
A new team, a revised menu and carefully refurbished surroundings await visitors to Marston Montgomery
Renovating beautiful old building whilst protecting its period charm can be a challenging task, but the team at the Crown Inn, in the idyllic village of Marston Montgomery near Ashbourne, has carried out a sensitive transformation of the historic venue with aplomb.
New owner Carl Jeffrey grew up in nearby Roston and having aspired to one day own the inn – which was originally a Georgian farmhouse – turned his dream into a reality in June 2015.
With a focus on preserving the atmosphere of a ‘village local’ whilst improving the offering for guests from afar, he soon put a careful and sensitive transformation project into place.
Now dazzlingly refurbished with a bright interior that incorporates exposed brick walls with stylish furniture, the inn has been given a new lease of life. All rooms have been upgraded and restored, including the bar area, terrace and restaurant, where a neutral colour palette, wooden chairs and tables, a log-burning stove and country-themed decor create a cosy, relaxed atmosphere.
The extensive menu – recently overhauled by newly-appointed head chef Chris Carr and manager Debbie Lloyd – displays a choice of dishes ranging from the classic to the more refined.
This includes starters such as homemade chicken liver pâté with crostini and winter chutney, or pan-fried scallops in a chorizo volute with crispy pancetta. Main courses are divided into ‘Crown Classics’ such as ham, egg and chips, steak and ale pie or traditional lasagne; a ‘Grill’ menu; and a ‘Burger’ section where delicious-sounding extra toppings can be added and side dishes include chips, garlic bread and coleslaw. There’s also Sunday Lunches and a light bite menu.
My eyes were naturally drawn, however, to the ‘Celebration of Derbyshire’ menu with its locally-sourced lamb, beef, pork and chicken dishes – including a marvellous-sounding double sirloin of beef for two.
To start my partner chose blue cheese-stuffed field mushroom (£4.95), with a filling so rich it tantalised the tastebuds and freshly-fried, crispy breadcrumbs.
My smoked salmon and spring onion fishcakes (£6.95), served on a bed of vibrant pea purée, were plump and flavoursome. Both dishes were well-cooked and the carefully-judged portion sizes left plenty of room for the main course.
Intrigued by the admission that it was one of the most popular choices on the newly-revised menu, I ordered the Crown Inn’s signature chicken dish which combined a chicken fillet with a wild mushroom and creamy white wine sauce, complemented by roasted patatas bravas (£15.95).
My partner’s sirloin steak (£18.95) was served medium-rare as requested, and was complemented by chips, a grilled tomato and mushroom, crispy onion rings and salad. A serving of blue cheese sauce (£2.50) – so good in the first course, he ordered it again – completed the dish.
In keeping with the informal surroundings, service is relaxed and all the food is cooked freshly to order so there was a pleasant pause before dessert. We chose mixed berry turnover served with pouring cream and a delicate little physalis on top, and a toothsome sticky toffee pudding with homemade custard (both £5.95).
During the inn’s renovation particular attention was paid to the seven beautifully-appointed en suite bedrooms which provide 21st century comfort in a historic setting. All are named after local families, some of whom have lived in the village for generations, and offer immaculate facilities with the promise of a delicious breakfast the following morning. We were certainly very tempted. w
Crown Inn, Riggs Lane, Marston Montgomery DE6 2FF; Tel: 01889 591430; www.thecrowninnderbyshire.co.uk.