Restaurant Review: The Crown & Anchor, Ham
A dog-friendly pub real foodies will adore…
Sometimes I just want it all and I want it now.
I want to find myself in a fabulous pub in a pretty village. I want it to be luxurious enough to feel exciting, but comfortable enough to feel like home. I want my dog (my pub-loving furry companion) to be an equally valued member of our dining party. And I want really good food. The proper stuff.
Much-loved pub classics yes, but ones that take things to the next level and push the envelope for a gastronomic adventurer.
As I arrive at the Crown & Anchor in Ham, I find myself happily ticking boxes off my wishlist.
Its authentically English décor (much of which was sourced in antique shops in nearby Hungerford) instantly hit the mark – from the panelled walls and flagstone floor to the stately fireplace and weathered oak furniture – while the welcome here made both humans and dog feel immensely at home. It’s the sort of place you can imagine welcomed weary travellers hundreds of years ago as they disembarked their coach and left the horses outside. These days, though, I’d guess that the menu is vastly improved and pleasingly modern – designed around a concept crafted by the local owners who took it over in 2019 to stop it being turned into a house.
Because it’s no secret that the Crown & Anchor takes its food seriously. Described as traditional British cooking with a contemporary twist, dishes here make the most of the finest seasonal and (where possible) locally sourced ingredients.
Chef Gert Pienaar is the man behind the menu, and he’s spent the last couple of years building his fantastic kitchen team. Given that it was a Sunday when we visited, we were presented with the Sunday menu, which boasts a paired down selection of Crown & Anchor favourites (like the Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Tortellini in a Beurre Noisette), as well as creative roasts with a choice of beef, pork and chicken and various scrummy accompaniments. It’s good value too, with a two-course menu for £27 and three courses for £32, all washed down with the excellent selection of wines and beers (including the Wiltshire Butcombe Gold that we enjoyed).
To start, we chose the Celeriac Soup with Truffle, Flaked Almonds and Homemade Bread and the Smoked Salmon Scotch Egg with Crab and Wasabi Mayonnaise. As someone who prefers fish, I was thrilled to find a non-meaty Scotch egg on the menu, and it was an absolute delight.
Onto the mains, and the beef was described as Black Treacle Cured Sirloin with Yorkshire Pudding (accompanied by Duck Fat Roast Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and Traditional Gravy) – so who could resist? We opted for that, as well as the Pan-Fried Cod, Smoked Mash, Mushroom, and Langoustine Butter Sauce.
It’s unusual to get a beef roast so thickly cut, in fact it was almost steak-like. It was infused with the black treacle flavour, so the gravy was more like an elegant sauce than a gravy, with perfectly roasted and portioned vegetables that suited the composition of the dish, and roast potatoes that were proclaimed ‘a triumph’. The cod, meanwhile, was an incredibly pleasing dish bursting with flavour, with a sauce that packed a punch, creamy cod with a crisp skin, and well-seasoned mash.
The Penny Post Verdict
The Crown & Anchor delivered all round. It was the kind of experience that made us want to book another table ASAP – perhaps for their upcoming fish tapas night, their special Mother’s Day menu, or their Taste of Italy event. The nearby cottage rooms were tempting too – ideal for families and also very welcoming to four legged friends. Our verdict? At the Crown & Anchor, you get it all, right when you want it: now.