This was a gifted meal.
The Crab and Boar near Newbury is in a lovely location; surrounded by rolling Berkshire countryside. Inside the pub it’s slick and modern but comfortable too. There are plenty of big squishy chairs and sofas to relax in around the bar and the layout in the restaurant means you get the background hubbub of noise without feeling like people can overhear you. A few weeks ago I was invited to try out their evening menu and I was looking forward to it as I had heard lots of good things.
We started with a drink at the bar; a good selection of beers (some local too), wines, spirits and soft drinks, while we looked through the menu. There were a few specials available as well as the printed menu which made it harder to choose what to have! There were a really good number (seven or eight) starters and mains to choose from and much deliberating but I eventually made a decision.
I started with the smoked salmon (£10) which was presented really nicely and the amount of salmon on the plate was really generous. The sliced salmon came with capers, sliced shallot, crème fraîche and very thinly sliced melba toast. The menu said it was meant to come with rye bread but I didn’t mind; really clean, crisp, fresh flavours. I thought it could do with a little bit more bread but actually by the time I had finished I think any more may have been too filling for a starter.
The OH had pressed ham hock with sweetcorn relish (£7.50) which I think looked amazing. The ham hock was layered with black pudding and the sweetcorn relish and other sweetcorn paraphernalia cut through and complemented the terrine so well.
After the starters the kitchen very kindly sent out some of their crab ravioli for us to try. It looked so good but most unfortunately I can’t eat shellfish *serious unhappy face* so we had to send it back to the kitchen. I felt terrible as it smelled delicious!
Tempted (very much so) though I was by the tandoori monkfish I settled on mushroom stroganoff and pastry for my main (£13). I always like to try out the vegetarian option in restaurants; I think it tells you a lot about a place. It was a bowl full of mushrooms (a few different types, slices and dices), peas and watercress in a light, creamy sauce, topped with pastry and it was really nice. The earthy mushrooms, sweet peas and slightly bitter watercress worked really well together. The pastry was light and the whole meal wasn’t too heavy; perfect for summer. There were a couple of gherkins on one side of the stroganoff and I’m not entirely sure they were needed.
The other main was spatchcock Cornish game hen with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables (£17). A really summery dish with a light jus, crunchy green veg and seriously smooth mash.
We had a brilliant table looking out of the window over what seemed like all of Berkshire, lovely food and a really unhurried, relaxed atmosphere. The garden looked like a great place for a summer evening drink too. I would like to go back to try some more of their fish dishes and for a cosy winter drink I think it would be a great place too.
This meal was paid for by The Crab & Boar. All opinions expressed and words are my own.