“ Address: 8 Church Street / Ludlow / Shropshire / SY8 1AP „
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