TRADITIONAL pubs are disappearing faster than Lewis Hamilton can crash into the back of a speeding Ferrari.
According to the British Beer and Pub Association, 25 hostelries are currently being boarded up every week in the UK. While this may make depressing reading for aficionados of this great British institution, it’s a big improvement on 2009 when 52 were closing weekly.
With the adage “Use it or lose it” ringing in our ears, four of us set off to a tavern which has a reputation for being the epitome of the good old English pub.
Our destination was Thurstonland, home to numerous herds of dairy cows, a historical cricket team and the Rose and Crown, located right in the heart of the village.
We had booked a table but most of the regulars were crowded around the bar. There was another group glued to a football match on a large TV screen. I had never been before, but bumped into a couple of friends who were regulars.
Rather rebelliously, we decided not to take up our reserved table in a small dining area. We headed instead for the main room where the action, bright lights and long bar were located and settled down at a large dark wooden table on a swirly carpet with a good view of everything going on.
The old beamed ceiling, wood and stone bar and stone fireplace lend a convivial, time-honoured ambiance to the interior.
The bar staff gave us a warm welcome and four menus. And we were cheered by the information that the food on offer is fresh and mostly home-made.
One of our party, Jonathan, is a regular here. Although he and friend Steve regularly work their way through the excellent array of beers, they had never yet ventured into solids.
The Rose and Crown always has seven hand-pulled beers – four of them from the Brass Monkey Brewery – as well as two lagers, a cider, a smooth and a Guinness on draught.
Affable mine host Richard Billington is passionate about beer. He also runs the Golden Cock at Farnley Tyas and jointly owns award-winning micro brewery Brass Monkey at Sowerby Bridge.
The wine list is limited, but we ordered a very acceptable sauvignon blanc while simultaneously working our way through the beers. Their bestseller is the Brass Monkey bitter, a light brew at 3.8% with a pleasant hoppy flavour.
When we couldn’t decide which to order next, landlord Richard brought over half-filled glasses of the other beers for us to try free of charge. I particularly liked a Chimp Off The Old Block, a 3.6 % blond beer brewed with aromatic sybilla hops, reminiscent of some of the lighter Belgian beers.
The Three Wise Monkeys had a light citrus flavour and the smooth Tamarin Mild was a big hit with everybody. If it was brewed in Ireland instead of West Yorkshire and sported a Caffrey’s label, Richard would become an overnight millionaire.
A big cheer went up from the TV alcove as we almost reluctantly turned our attention to the food. Being half full of beer, we decided to split a couple of starters, all priced at £4.25, between us.
The haddock and black pudding fishcake worked well as a combination and the meat on the BBQ ribs was juicy and tender; for me the sauce was a little on the heavy side.
For the main courses, two of us plumped for the Black Rock Grill. We ordered a small sirloin at £6.95 and king prawn and scallops at £9.95. The food arrived uncooked on two slabs of African volcanic rock heated to 400 degrees in a special oven.
The seafood and steak were fresh and we enjoyed the novelty of cooking our own sizzling meals exactly to our own tastes.
The red hot volcanic rock seals in the flavours at and the results were juicy, tender and very tasty. If you prefer, the staff will cook your food on the rock in the kitchen.
Another cheer went up from the corner: “I wonder if Jordan Rhodes has got a hat trick,” mused Jonathan.
Meanwhile, Jan was very impressed with her vegetarian butternut and chickpea curry: “Subtly spiced, freshly prepared and definitely home-made,” she said. The generous portion of 12 oz beer-battered haddock and chips also went down a treat. All main courses, except the Hot Rock dishes, are £8.95.
Unbelievably, another couple of cheers rose from the TV alcove as all four of us tucked into an enormous and delicious slab of home-made sticky toffee pudding under a lake of cream.
The service was very friendly and attentive throughout and Jordan Rhodes finished up putting five past hapless Wycombe Wanderers. All in all, a night to remember.
The Rose and Crown describes itself as “a friendly, cosy and rustic pub with a great atmosphere and a good mix of real ales and real people.”
We can’t argue with that.
VERDICT: The Rose and Crown doesn’t pretend to be fine dining. It’s a traditional, friendly place with excellent ales and decent pub food. One not to be missed by connoisseurs of real ale.