The Crow and Gate pubs sits on the outskirts of the Ashdown Forest just outside Crowborough on the Uckfield Road between Tunbridge Wells and Uckfield. The pub is over 200 years old, originally run by the Gatekeeper of Crowborough Gate…hence the name! It is now part of the Vintage Inns chain and has recently undergone a complete revamp. It’s a pub that I have driven past tens, if not hundreds of times but never had reason to stop by…but having visited last weekend l will endeavour to visit more regularly. We found ourselves enjoying an evening of excellent service and food in a traditional and friendly country pub environment.
Arriving at the Crow and Gate I approached the bar, and was warmly greeted by the Manager, Peter. He was aware of my reservation and made myself and my guests feel welcomed and expected. He took us straight over to a table in a bay window area which was laid up with sparkling cutlery and glasses. The restaurant is smart but still retains a country pub feel…relaxed but maintaining the sense of a quality restaurant. On the Friday evening that we visited the bar area was quiet with a handful of drinkers chatting around the bar. The restaurant was busy but not hectic…a mellow buzz of diners chatting amongst the clinking of cutlery and the occasional loud chuckle.
Our drinks orders were taken as soon as we sat down and the Manager was able to offer us a choice of options to satisfy each guests requirements. I ordered a glass of Sauvingnon Blanc and was offered a choice of either a Chilean or New Zealand wine. My guests ordered rose (a choice of Zinfandel or Pinot Grigio Blush) and red (Merlot or Melbec). My husband had spotted a Cornish Cider at the bar as we arrived and ordered a pint. Whilst we waited for our drinks to arrive we were presented with the menus and specials. We were informed at the same time that two options on the menu were unavailable tonight, however suitable replacements were available on the specials (the braised lamb was off the main menu, but there was an excellent lamb alternative on offer instead).
I was really impressed with the menu. A wide selection of sharing platters, starters, pub classics and main dishes with some inspiring specials. As we were dining quite late we decided to go straight to the mains but I would love to return to try some of the starters…broad bean and asparagus risotto, salt and pepper calamari or black pearl scallops and prawns to name a few! You can take a look at the full Dinner menu here.
Between us we ordered two servings of the Lamb Duo from the specials, a Rib Eye Steak and a Courgette, Carrot and Chickpea Burger. We were told to expect a 20 minute wait for our lamb orders…we must have looked hungry when our waitress delivered this news because shortly afterwards we were presented with some olives and pistachio nuts to nibble on. A really nice touch that we really appreciated!
Before we knew it our food arrived. Delivered promptly and not just warm, but piping hot. We were offered condiments and our drinks were checked before our waitress was satisfied that she’d looked after us to the best of her abilities. The Duo of Lamb comprised of a rump of lamb served with a potted portion of Shepherd’s Pie, a generous side of chunky vegetables and it’s own little gravy boat. The rump was tender, succulent and generous in size. The extra gravy meant that the dish was consistently moist and exactly to my liking. The Shepherd’s Pie provided a delightful companion for the rump topped with crispy potato and a rich meaty filling.
The Rib Eye steak came with another generous portion of vegetables, onion rings, a pot of crispy chips and a jug of creamy peppercorn sauce. The steak was medium cooked, tender to cut and succulent in the mouth with the peppercorn sauce providing a mild kick.
The Courgette, Carrot and Chickpea Burger offered a refreshing alternative to the usual veggie burger options available on most menus. The flavoursome and moist patty came in a brioche bun with broad bean hummus and home made onions rings.
On finishing our main course our plates were promptly cleared before we were offered drinks and dessert menus. As we’d skipped starters we all decided we’d treat ourselves to pudding. Again I was really impressed with the wide choice of desserts on offer. As well as some of the firm menu favourites like Bramley Apple Pie…there were also some more unusual options such as Coconut Milk Sorbet and Melba Mallow Mess. As a table we ordered quite a selection….a Toffee and Nut Trio, Carrot-cake Cheescake, a Sticky Toffee and Apple Pudding and a Pudding Tasting Platter!
The Toffee and Nut Trio consisted of a beautifully presented plate of Bourbon Pecan Pie, Creme Caramel Panna Cotta and Praline Ice Cream. A delicious selection of something creamy, cool and crunchy to satisfy all palettes.
The Carrot-cake Cheesecake is made with Madagascan vanilla cream cheese on a carrot cake base. I love both cheesecake AND carrot cake so this was the ideal dessert for me…and indeed it lived up to expectations. The cream cheese was perfectly sweet and smooth….it would have been even better with a bit of cream to help moisten the carrot cake base.
The Sticky Toffee and Apple Pudding offers a perfect combination of a Bramley apple and date sponge with toffee sauce and custard. The moist sponge is light enough to satisfy without leaving you too full, with the custard and toffee sauce guaranteeing you’ll be scraping your bowl!
Finally, the Pudding Tasting Platter….for those who might want to share a bit of everything….or who just can’t decide…like us! The platter is made up of a generous selection of Belgium Chocolate Brownie topped with Vanilla ice cream, Melba Mallow Mess, Vanilla Creme Brûlée and Warm Apple Pie. An absolute treat from the moment the platter is placed on the table this is one for the die hard pudding tasters!
We thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of our evening at the Crow and Gate….but what really impressed us all was the fantastic service and the friendly approach of every member of staff we encountered. From the manager, to the bar staff, to our waiting staff we experienced competence and professionalism alongside a warm welcome. The food was faultless…well presented and in some cases surpassing expectation. We will certainly be returning to enjoy this smart, friendly, country pub again…maybe we’ll see you there?
We received a complimentary meal in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. I would like to say thank you to Peter and his team for looking after us so well.