The Old Crown Inn
An utterly gorgeous pastoral pitstop
Folk have been saying that they love The Old Crown Inn (situated on the Bath-Bristol road that passes through the picturesque little village of Kelston) for around 600 years. 600 years? Yup, 600 years… there’s been an inn on the very same site that we’re focusing on right here, right now, since the 15th century. But history can – and does – move with the times. And so it came to pass that, in 2018, this enduringly popular proper country pub was given a gently invigorating blast of TLC courtesy of the same new owners also responsible for The Inn at Freshford, The Cross Guns at Avoncliff and, most recently, The Griffin Inn on Monmouth Street.
To call The Old Crown Inn pretty wouldn’t do this utterly gorgeous pastoral pitstop justice. Put it this way: if Richard Curtis was in search of a perfect backdrop against which two characters in one of his quintessentially British romcoms were to meet and fall in lurve, he’d give the location scout responsible for coming across the OCI an instant bonus.
Beyond the creeper-clad exterior, original features such as wooden beams, flagstones and log fires have all been lovingly restored and maintained, complemented by stylishly quirky curiosities dotted hither and thither – it’s so effortlessly, seductively welcoming that, once installed at the bar or in one of the cosy little snuggle-up dining areas, you just won’t want to even consider getting up and leaving again. The thing is, though, that when the sun comes out to play, you sorta owe it to yourself to get out and about… well, to the pub’s garden at least, where ancient trees, picnic tables and the OCI’s Garden Lodge – a fully-enclosed space with room for up to 150 people indoors and a further 40 on the covered, heated patio, with fire pit seating adjacent to the alfresco bar adding an extra dimension of inside-but-outside appeal – results in the pub garden of your dreams (and those of Richard Curtis’ location scout.)
On the all-important food front, recently-introduced revamped menus have bought the pub’s refreshment options up to speed with stylish contemporary life. On our most recent foray, we started off with the most fascinating variation on a pub classic that I’ve encountered in years (that’ll be the crab sausage roll with brown crab mayonnaise, then) and a twice-baked cheddar cheese souffle that arrived all puffed up and golden and surrounded by a lake of creamy, perfect cheese sauce – heaven on two not-so-small plates, and an absolute bargain at £6 each. On from that, a huge, tender, marvelously meaty rib eye steak accompanied by the kind of chips you’d propose to if you were weird enough to want to marry a portion of chips, served with a stilton hollandaise that you’d want to swim in after the ceremony. The confit and roasted pork belly, meanwhile, turned out to be a smooth, rich, positively dreamy little slab of porcine perfection, with artichokes and crispy broccoli cleverly adding a neat little texture-twist twixt creamy pork and velvety fondant potato: a beautifully balanced, supremely indulgent dish indeed. But we are, when all’s said and done, on down home, down-to-earth proper pub territory here – prices are super-realistic, and classics go (literally) large; at the table next door, both the fish and chips and the pub’s burger gave me a serious bout of food envy, and I’ve found myself fantasising about just how good the pub’s pie of the day might be ever since I dragged myself away from our cosy little table for two. Ah, there’s nothing for it; I’ll just have to return to the OCI soon (but if you get there before I do, do let me know about the pie.)
As one would imagine, Sunday Lunch is spectacular here (smoked spiced lamb? Yes please!) and all kinds of lively offers and deals proliferate on the pub’s website – right now, Fish and Chip Fridays offer a full-on fish supper and a pint for just £12 at lunch and dinnertime, the Celebrate Spring menu brings 2-courses for £15 and 3 for £18 to the party from 12-2.30pm and 6-7pm every Wednesday-Friday until the end of March, and there’s half-price Prosecco flowing every Tuesday. Little people, meanwhile, are given the due care and attention they deserve with their own dedicated menu, while dogs are made as welcome as their owners are. Get Inn, piggies!
- Wheelchair access ,
- Free wifi available ,
- Dog friendly ,
- Gluten free options ,
- Baby changing facilities
Main menu served 12noon-3pm & 6pm-9pm Monday-Friday, 12noon-9pm Saturday. Sunday lunch 12noon-7pm. Sandwich menu served Wednesday-Saturday 12noon-6pm.
Situated on the Bath-Bristol road that passes through the picturesque little village of Kelston