For our regular look at what's being served on pub menus, Jackie Mitchell talks to Christopher Davy, who runs The Rose and Crown, a classic old coaching inn with his wife Alison, at Romaldkirk, County Durham
The Rose and Crown at Romaldkirk, County Durham, was named the AA Pub of the Year for England last year. Set on the middle green of the village, the AA judges describe it as "a fine establishment - a pub for locals, a hotel for residents, a restaurant for diners, but an inn above all else."
Christopher Davy says: "We're delighted to have won this accolade, especially as we were runners-up in 2001, the first year the AA ran the scheme. It's been excellent for business as we've received lots of publicity and the pub has been featured in the guidebook."
It's been a good year so far for the Rose & Crown, as the pub also gained two AA Red Stars and The Good Hotel Guide awarded it a Cesar Award naming the Rose & Crown as the Inn of the Year for 2003.
The establishment, built in 1733, is steeped in history. The inn retains much of its original character with its paneled front bar with shuttered windows, polished copper and brass and a stone fireplace, which has an open fire during the winter months. The pub also has 12 ensuite guest rooms.
The bar, which serves 70 covers, is open for food from 12 noon to 1.30pm and from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. There is also a separate restaurant, with 24 covers, which has been awarded two AA rosettes. The opening hours are 7.30pm to 9pm Monday to Saturday and from 12 noon to 1.30pm on Sunday.
The busiest times, according to Christopher, are Friday and Saturday nights, as well as Sunday lunch.
A free house, the principal beers on offer are Theakston Best and Black Sheep Best, both brewed nearby in the Pennines.
GlaxoSmithKline is located nearby so the pub gets good business from them throughout the year. There is also substantial tourist trade, as the pub is well located for attractions such as Barnard Castle, John and Josephine Bowes Museum and the Beamish Open Air Museum. "We also get a lot of business from people going shooting to Wemmergill Moor, renowned for grouse, and Holwick, the adjacent moor, both owned by Earl Strathmore," says Christopher. "The shooting season starts on 12 August and lasts until mid- to end of October," he adds.
Another source of business for The Rose & Crown are the Food and Wine Weekends, which are held twice a year, although Christopher has plans to expand this. It includes special menus and wines plus a tutored tasting on Saturday morning, following by a cookery demonstration carried out by Christopher. He recently demonstrated scallop and black pudding risotto, roasted onion, bacon and lentil soup, pan fried mallard with leek and artichoke tartlet.
He says: "I'm hoping to develop cookery demos further - they are a great way of promoting your establishment."
Local game comes from Yorkshire Game, 218, such as partridge, grouse, pheasant, mallard, rabbits, venison and wood pigeon, while fish is purchased from Hodgsons of Hartlepool, 219. This company supplies fresh shellfish and fish daily such as salmon, haddock, monkfish, seabass and plaice.
"We buy rainbow trout from local fishermen," says Christopher," and get unusual cheeses like Cotherstone locally."
Cotherstone is a local cow's milk cheese which is served as a Ploughman's, as well as sprinkled on top of halibut for a cheese crust and used in other dishes.
Fruit and vegetables are acquired from Eggleston Hall Gardens, a local walled garden which is also a tourist attraction. "We also buy our soft fruit from there," says Christopher. "We got 120lb of raspberries last year to make raspberry jam for serving at breakfast."
He also uses another fruit and vegetable supplier - Ron Gill, 220.
The pub bakes its own bread like brioche every night, but buys white and brown bread, as well as fresh pasta from William Peats, a butcher's and baker's, 221, at Barnard Castle.
Pork is purchase from Tophams, 222, in all forms including belly, loin and leg of pork.
Most desserts are made from scratch, although the pub does buy in vanilla and chocolate ice cream from Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream, 223.
Homemade soup with bread £3.25
‘Rose & crown' gravadlax with honey and mustard dressing £5.95
Scallop, prawn and bacon risotto with parmesan £6.25 Smoked trout mousse with potato salad and lime and caper vinaigrette £4.50 Chicken liver pate with fruit chutney £3.95 Baked goats cheese souffl‚ with tomato and fennel broth £4.50 Sweet red onion and blue cheese salad with sesame vinaigrette £4.25Mains
Goujons of seafish with tartare dressing, pommes frites and mushy peas £10.75 Roasted scotch salmon with mushrooms, prawns and crispy pancetta £11.25 Smoked haddock, bubble and squeak, poached egg and leek soubise £10.50 Baked halibut with local cotherstone cheese and onion marmalade £11.75 Braised partridge with bacon, mushrooms and puy lentils £11.50 Confit of lamb with haricot bean cassoulet and mint pesto £10.25 Steak, kidney and mushroom pie with short crust and ale gravy £9.50 Char grilled fillet of beef with parsley butter, pommes frites and salad £12.95 Char grilled venison steak with green peppercorns, pommes frites £11.95
Sticky toffee pudding £3.50 Walnut and syrup tart £3.50 Panna cotta with stewed Apricots £3.50 Fat vanilla meringues with chocolate sauce £3.50 Baked apple cheesecake £3.50 Toasted almond and sherry Trifle £3.50