The Cross Keys

scales the giddy heights of gastropub greatness at distinctly down-to-earth prices

scales the giddy heights of gastropub greatness at distinctly down-to-earth prices

Rode: a super-pretty, quintessentially English village just a short 10 mile/16km trundle south of Bath; think, a day out on the Midsomer Murders set without the sinister themes, and you’ve got the idea. But we’ve discovered the very best reason to take a ride up t’road to Rode.

Proprietors Mark and Hannah took the keys to the Cross Keys just over a year ago, and have since revamped the character, personality and reputation of a pub that today lies firmly at the heart of the Rode community. Beams, open fires, flagstone floors, spacious dining rooms, a cosy bar and a gorgeously higgledy-piggedly beer garden combine to create a classic country pub scene that many attempt to replicate but few manage to make look so (apparently) effortless and totally uncontrived. Meanwhile, on the all-important food front, there’s such a lot going on that it would be impossible to find someone who can’t find what they’re looking for here.

On a recent voyage through Mark’s current seasonal selection (there are multiple menus to choose from, of which more later), we feasted on starters of soft poached egg with crispy pancetta on bubble and squeak with hollandaise (phew) and garlic mushrooms on toast the like of which – on both counts – wouldn’t have been out of place on the kind of menus that generally demand much higher prices for the quality and presentation we encountered (starters average circa £6). Similarly, mains of all-too-often overlooked feather blade of beef with mash and confit onions, a softly sumptuous butternut squash and sage risotto bathed in truffle oil, a veggie burger that had us questioning whether or not we’d actually been served the beef incarnation (in a really, really good way) and the kind of fish and chips that would have been worth travelling three times the distance for all scaled the giddy heights of gastropub greatness at distinctly down-to-earth prices (£10-£13.50 for our selection). Before embarking on the trip home, we chose chocolate and cardamom cake with chocolate soil and praline ice cream and banana sponge with milk ice cream, salted caramel sauce and dried banana to bring the curtain down, a little bit of which we saved to share with a very friendly dog by way of attempting to bribe it come home with us. Spitfire accepted the treats and eschewed our dog napping endeavours, but he did reassure us that the Cross Keys is as friendly to dogs as it is to people. Meanwhile, if your fascinations are more feline in their inclinations, ask Hannah to introduce you to Bonnie and Henry, the resident cats. But hey, we digress…

A la carte menu runs throughout the week at the Cross Keys. But… Wednesday night is Midweek Treat Night (all dishes £8.50, booking essential), Friday night is Steak Night (all steaks £10), Sunday lunch goes mega-large and the takeaway menu (Tuesday-Saturday evenings) runs the whole gamut of freshly cooked takeaway classics for just £10 per dish/£5 for children’s options. On top of all this, the pub hosts regular foodie-themed events and Comedy Club nights renowned for attracting circuit superstars keen to keep it real, and there’s a collection of lovely sleepover rooms upstairs for those who just don’t want to leave. And who could blame them? We want the keys to the Cross Keys too.

Facilities

  • wheelchair access Wheelchair access
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  • Wifi Free wifi available
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  • Gluten free Gluten free options

The Cross Keys

20 High St, Rode, Frome BA11 6NZ, UK

Opening hours
Open
Monday: 5.30 – 10.30pm;
Tuesday – Thursday: 12 – 2pm, 5.30-11.30pm
Friday: 12 – 2pm, 5-11.30pm
Saturday: 12 – 11pm
Sunday: 12 – 10pm

Food Served
Kitchen closed all day Monday
Tuesday – Thursday: 12 – 2pm, 6.30 – 8.30pm (excluding Wednesday evening 'Midweek Treats' menu unless pre-booked – visit website for details)
Friday – Saturday: 12 – 2pm, 6-9pm (booking highly recommended)

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