The Rose & Crown (Ludlow)
When Mrs SWSt and I are on holiday, we try to follow two rules: firstly we will eat out every night; secondly, we will try not to eat in the same place more than once (unless it's REALLY nice!). Following this rule is how we came across The Rose and Crown in Ludlow. Finding the Rose & Crown The Rose & Crown is a ... traditional English pub, formerly a coach house. It sits at the top end of the town up towards the castle and on the edge of the market square. It would actually be quite easy to miss the Rose & Crown if you weren't looking because it sits in its own courtyard, reached by an alleyway that at first doesn't look like it really leads anywhere! Recognising this, the owners have put signs outside pointing you in the right direction, so you can't really miss it.
One thing you do need to be aware of is that because the Rose & Crown is a town centre pub, it doesn't have a car park. It's easy enough to reach, and there are plenty of car parks and (paid for) on street parking nearby, but it doesn't have a car park itself.
If I could turn back time
Stepping into the courtyard for the Rose & Crown really is like stepping back in time as you see the black and white timbered building which has stood for hundreds of years. You can well imagine how busy and bustling it would be as a coaching house in its heyday.
Thankfully, when we went it was a little quieter... almost too quiet. I know from reading other reviews that the Rose & Crown is popular and does get very busy, but on the night that we went, there was just us and two blokes having a drink (both of whom left soon after). It's a good job we didn't judge it on how busy it was; otherwise we would have been straight out the door again! On the plus side, between the bar area, dining room and beer garden (where staff also appeared happy to serve food), there are plenty of tables, so even if you arrive at a busy time, you shouldn't have to wait too long for one.
There are two dining options at the Rose & Crown - a more formal dining room or the bar area. We opted for the bar area which was very pleasant. Dark wooden panelling formed the walls and, whilst this made the interior quite dark, it didn't feel gloomy. The walls are also littered with posters of plays that have been performed at various Ludlow festivals and these were really interesting to look at whilst you waited for your food.
Come Dine with Me
Food-wise, the Rose & Crown serves fairly traditional pub dishes, sometimes with a little twist. Each dish is accompanied by a clear description of all the ingredients, so it's clear what you are getting and there are no nasty shocks! Most of the food is locally sourced as well, which is always a good thing.
Most of the food is written up on a board just inside the bar area. This is a really sensible way to do things because we noticed that when they ran out of something, they actually wiped it off the board to avoid disappointment. This is a very sensible approach that some other places could do with adopting.
For starters, Mrs SWSt had the goat's cheese, whilst I had the cauliflower soup with a gorgeous chunk of home-made bread. Both were absolutely delicious. Frankly, I'd have been happy just to sit there all night and eat bowlful after bowlful of the soup accompanied by the bread!
For main course, I had the gammon, which was cooked really well and served with some delicious homemade chips and some well-cooked vegetables that had not been boiled to within an inch of their lives. Mrs SWSt had the fish and chips (although the fish was so big, whale and chips might be more accurate), which she also professed to be delicious. After consuming so much food, we didn't really have room for a pudding which was a shame some of them sounded great - stodgy, sweet and really bad for you: everything you need in a pudding!
Like most pubs in Ludlow, the Rose & Crown also serves real ale. Whilst their choice might not be as extensive as some of the pubs in the area, it also serves a couple that are not available elsewhere. As with the food, many of these beers come from local brewers, and it's nice to see a pub supporting local businesses.
Price-wise, the food was perhaps a little more expensive than we would normally expect to pay at home (perhaps £2-3 more on each of the main courses), but it wasn't horrifically expensive, and it was worth paying the extra for the quality ingredients that were used.
The one downside in our experience was the staff. The young lad serving the food was pleasant enough, but the girl serving at the bar was not the most welcoming of people. When we initially walked into the pub, she just stared at us; even when serving drinks, she used only the minimum number of words needed to complete the transaction, and at one point (when we were ready to pay the bill and leave) even disappeared off into the back for 10 minutes, leaving us standing there. In fairness, this was about 7pm on a Monday night and we were the only customers in the place, so it was going to be a long night. Even so, it did make us feel slightly unwelcome.
The Rose & Crown's other major issue is that whilst the quality of its food is excellent, there's nothing really to set it apart from other pubs up and down the country. In a place like Ludlow, renowned for its food and where you can't move without finding yet another place to eat, it might sometimes struggle to distinguish itself from all the other local eateries.
Still, if you are every in Ludlow and fancy some good, honest traditional pub food in a delightfully atmospheric setting, you should head up Church Street and find the Rose & Crown.
The Rose & Crown
8 Church Street
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
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The Rodney (Essesx)
The Rodney North Hill Little Baddow Essex CM3 4TQ Visiting the Rodney Pub in Little Baddow near Chelmsford wasn't a planned decision. We were on route to our favourite tea room at Paper Mill Lock which I have reviewed before on Dooyoo and which affords wonderful riverside walks and is one of my favourite ... places to relax. Sadly this area is prone to flooding, and with the deluge of rain we have been having locally just before Christmas saw the peak of the water levels making access to the tea room impossible. As a result it was closed so our lunch time stop saw us entering The Rodney which is higher up the hill and is a place steeped in history. Despite living in Little Baddow for many years in the 1970s I had never been in the place when I lived there, so I thought it was time to sample lunch and to see what delights were hidden inside this very old building dating back centuries.
The Rodney is actually so old that it is impossible to accurately date it, but it is known that in 1650 it was a farm house, and later it became a bakery and grocer's shop and finally a public house which has been run by the present owners since 1989. It has a good lunch menu and a well constructed website at www.therodneyinn.co.uk
The name of the pub is taken from Admiral Rodney and a subsequent series of Naval ships and so as you might expect the pub has a nautical theme going through it with maritime artefacts in evidence everywhere. It is rather quaint to be sitting in an inland pub which would look more at home near to the coast, which of course this setting isn't, but in terms of décor the look is quite dated in style with a very thin line in my opinion between what is aesthetically pleasing and what is bordering on shabby. The carpets are threadbare in places and the tables worn, and the fireplace does not house a warm and roaring fire. Furthermore a visit to the ladies offers a glimpse of the pull cord old fashioned black high cistern affair, which whilst a museum piece does not in my opinion impart a feeling of cleanliness. Still it is a grade 2 listed building so some dated pieces are acceptable, and the bar itself is a homely looking affair where food can be ordered. The place is very small inside so space is limited, and one side of the pub is reserved for a pool table, fruit machine and TV so has a less relaxing atmosphere.
The review I am writing is based on only one visit which is because I would not give the place my custom for a second time. As we were completely new to the establishment one would have expected a degree of friendliness and welcoming but it was less than forthcoming. The sign "No Dogs" on the door was quite off putting as we often take our little dog to various dog friendly places, but I understand that there are two camps here and so respected their wishes and left Molly in the car. We ordered a couple of drinks and asked to see the menu and this was a passable experience with a half smile and a suggestion to us to keep a tab, and so we opted to order two hot baguettes which I thought was a reasonable price of £4 each. I also ordered a pot of tea. We were not able to order alcohol as we were driving, but it was lunchtime and there were only two others eating lunch and one gentlemen was reading and hugging a pint in a corner table. The website does say they are more than happy to provide teas and coffees respecting customers wishes to be safe on the roads which I was impressed with.
When my tea arrived I was absolutely knocked back by the way it was served. A woman came out of the kitchen said "tea" in the most stern brusque voice I have ever heard in my life and put it in front of me as if it was to be my last- I thought of the words " I hope it chokes you" but she never said them of course, but body language and mannerisms speak louder than verbal gestures in my opinion, and I looked at my husband in amazement. It does explain that all the food is home cooked and so you should allow a good period of time to be served so it gave me a while to study the couple who had just finished their scampi. The lady asked the waitress- " This is lovely scampi what make is it?" to which she replied "It's from the Cash and Carry" then there was a silence after which the waitress said "Do you want something else- pie or crumble?" in a monotone voice. I would have passed on that as again conversation was minimal and service appalling.
So it was with trepidation that we awaited our hot baguettes order and finally it arrived. One small cheap long life half baked baguette cut in half like an injured torpedo with two slithers of melting cheddar on a cheap white tea plate with no salad garnish- no crisps- no coleslaw- just an anaemic looking serving on a plate not much bigger than the size of saucer. No care had gone into the presentation at all, it wouldn't have cost much to just add a tiny fraction of colour with a slice of tomato or a few little baby salad leaves - it was minimal effort and the worse lunch I have ever been offered in my life. Added to the curt service it was all together a disgraceful offering and one that I shall not be repeating - ever. In these economically challenging times pubs are struggling to keep and to attract customers and all aspects of service here were lacking. It is a shame because the building has so much potential but the meal was insulting.
Maybe we caught the place on an off day as there are sometimes many cars in the car park, and certainly on a sunny day the beer garden looks very pretty and welcoming. I am not sure- maybe our lunch order caused offence as perhaps we didn't order something expensive enough from the menu and were seen as cheapskate I don't know, but it has prevented us from booking a special meal there in the future. There is an extensive menu for sure at reasonable prices and full details of this can be found on their website. It is such a shame because the emphasis is on home cooked food which normally excites me, but my sample visit did not illustrate this at all both with the presentation of my simple order or for the experience of the other couple that I was closely monitoring.
It always amazes me when people in service industries are unable to treat customers with kindness and a warm welcome. Maybe I should give them a second chance, but with some many wonderful Essex pubs with jolly staff and homely food presented beautifully I doubt I will venture in there again. If you wish to the opening hours are given below.
Tuesday - Saturday
12.00 - 2.30 &
6.00 - 11.00pm
12.00 - 8.00pm
I would say that although this pub has maritime décor with ships wheels and nautical memorabilia I will steer a course well away from there unless things change for the better.
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The Bell (Belbroughton)
For Boxing Day 2012 my parents decided it would make a nice change for some of the family to get together and eat out rather than put on a buffet and instead let someone else do the tidying, washing up, putting away etc. My father had decided we should have a 3 course meal at The Bell in Bell Broughton. My parents have eaten at The Bell ... many times before and so have I (albeit a few years ago now) so they had hoped they would be getting a wonderful 3 course meal.
== Introduction ==
The Bell at Bell Broughton is a wonderfully presented pub in the village of Bell Broughton just outside of Stourbridge in the West Midlands (close to Romsley, Kidderminster). Close to the M5 it has good transport links for the car however if travelling by bus or train you are incredibly limited so getting there by car seems the only way or at least the easiest. The car park is an incredibly decent size with a few disabled spaces at the front.
The Bell is set in an incredibly old building which has been tastefully looked after and renovated. It has been turned into a rustic yet almost chic pub giving a warming invite to all those that eat and drink inside. It's décor is as said slightly rustic with a modern twist, it is incredibly clean and well present and really quite faultless. It definitely has a wonderful atmosphere and on a winters day such as Boxing day with a log fire going you do feel incredibly cosy in such a large building.
== The Staff ==
Unfortunately the normally prompt and polite staff seemed to have been pushed to their limits on Boxing Day and did look a little fraught almost as if the customers were inconvenient at the slightest question. The bar staff did seem to be a little more relaxed but clearly under the strain. Our designated waitress had unfortunately fallen at the first hurdle when she explained that the pub had just simply overbooked and 'they' were having to pick up the pieces - surely an employee shouldn't push the employer under the bus or at least not so honestly.
== Food & Drink ==
We had been booked in for the Boxing Day menu which consisted of a choice of five starters, five mains and five puddings. The choice was well thought of giving room for vegetarians, fish lovers and meat lovers. It seemed like a well balanced selection. Starters consisted of melon, corned beef hash with poached egg and stuffed mushroom. Mains consisted of Fish and Chips, a turkey dinner, gnocchi with butternut squash and pudding examples were yule log, fudge cake and Christmas Pudding. For an extra few pounds you could have had a cheese board but for £18.95 for a 3 course meal the selection was decent.
The drinks selection was incredibly varied which was nice as I didn't particularly want to drink. There was an extensive wines menu offering something for everyone including those who have a taste for expensive bubbles. Prices were not overly ridiculous compared to other similar type pubs. Soft drinks again were varied giving a few more unusual choices which for me was a nice change to your glass of coke or lemonade.
== Misc ==
The one thing I like in a pub or restaurant is decent toilets. Unfortunately the toilets in The Bell let it down a little and this was probably due to the high volume of people on Boxing Day but it would have been nice if they had paid a little more attention to them as although clean they were a bit grubby and the décor was not in keeping with the pub overall - a small personal gripe.
Child friendly? Yes, my 26 month old daughter obviously accompanied us on our visit and although they had offered a high chair we had already brought her booster seat and they were more than happy to find another chair to add to the end of the table which was nice.
== Our Experience ==
We had our table booked at 3.30pm but arrived a little earlier at 3.10pm to find the car park completely full. Having waited for a space we finally parked and hurried in outside out of the rain. We were met with a completely full waiting area/bar area and managed to squeeze and pounce on a party leaving a table so we could at least sit down. We made our arrival known and told that the party at our table were just leaving and it wouldn't be long - this was at 3.15pm. By 3.50pm we were all starting to loose a little patience as were a few other people and asked a member of staff what was happening and again met with the same response. By 4pm my father got up and collared a poor young waiter who miraculously took us to our table.
The menus were already set out as placements and we all (all is 12 people) chose hurriedly as by this point we are all quite hungry. Our busty waitress came straight over and rather than even saying hello quickly advised what was off the menu - fish and chips as well as there is an hour wait on the main course (marvellous!). After several people now having to change their order we eventually ordered and settled into chat until she came back 15 minutes later and informed us what was now off the menu and again a few of us had to change our orders (including myself).
After 30 minutes our starters came. I had opted for corned beef hash with a poached egg as had several other people. My corned beef hash had obviously been sat on the plate for some time as it was just about luke warm yet the poached egg was hot. My partner had the deep fried breaded brie which seemed to have been the safest option as the stuffed mushroom (yes just one) looked over done and tasteless - and apparently it was. Still left hungry the plates were eventually taken away and the wait began.
Main meals eventually and slowly made their way out to us. I had changed my original order of Homemade Scotch Egg on bubble and squeak with hollandaise sauce to gnocchi with feta and butternut squash and I was presented with a small, starter size portion with what looked like a whole bag of watercress dumped on the top. My aunt opted for the same and fortunately the gnocchi was cooked to how it should be. My partner had the turkey dinner which was 'okay' and my uncle had the Chinese sticky chicken which looked visually appealing yet apparently was dry as was the homemade burger.
At this point my father had lost all patience with the rudeness of the staff and the poor quality of the food and had asked for the manager to come over to the table but not before the waitress saying "oh I am not surprised you didn't look happy when you sat down". The manager duly came over and my father took delight in advising in detail as to what was wrong with the meal and the overall experience. The manager advised that he was incredibly sorry and advised we wouldn't be charged for the meal and my father's deposit which was paid at the time of booking was going to be fully refunded (and it was that evening). #
After resolving issues with the manager we finally ordered desert only to be sat there for another half an hour at which point my daughter had lost patience given that we had been there for over 3 hours and we decided just to get up and go. The funny part was the waitress had just come over to tell us that all the puddings we had chosen had run out and the only thing available was Christmas pudding which just about summed the whole meal up - what we all wanted wasn't possible as they hadn't got enough or the head chef hadn't factored in how many people/bookings were attending.
As we were leaving we noticed the manager speaking to a very heated couple about the set menu which had changed quite significantly since we arrived. The couple were holding a piece of paper about A5 size and due to being quite loud we could clearly hear what was being said. This 'new' menu was the Boxing day menu and consisted of to start fishcakes, for the main Chinese sticky chicken or turkey dinner and for pudding Christmas pudding. The couple explained to him quite furiously that they had booked for a party of 12 back in September for the original menu at £18.95 a head and they now had this awful menu which had of course resulted in their Boxing Day being ruined.
== Overall ==
It is such a shame that The Bell wasn't organised enough and that goes for the staff and of course for the kitchen staff as they have been open for many years and are used to providing food to the public on a 7 day week. The staff were not helpful, they had clearly lost the will to live on Boxing Day no doubt tired and fed up (but still that isn't the customers fault). The food was pretty atrocious, clearly cooked for the masses as it was neither hot nor tasteful and of course a complete disgrace that despite offering such a wide menu they couldn't provide it.
The Bell was one of my parents favourites and unfortunately it has gone down completely in their estimations and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those attending on Boxing Day won't be returning nor giving the place a high recommendation. It's a real shame given their usual high quality of food and service but they just managed to overbook themselves and managed to ruin what should be a wonderful day into one where people were left frustrated and angry. Not a recommendation from me.
== Useless Information ==
Tel: 01562 731928
11.30am to 11.30pm Monday to Saturday,
11am to 11pm Sunday
Food available: 12pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday,
12pm to 9.30pm Sunday
On their website (which seems to be the only decent thing about the place) you will find all the information you need to know about the pub itself including booking online, taking advantage of their offers (they regularly have themed nights) as well as quite detailed information on how to get there - should you want to!
== Rating ==
Personally, based on my last experience I can't really recommend this place although my parents have had some very good meals here on the not so busy days. Therefore, I will be generous and give it 2 stars but I won't personally return.
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