[Crowle, Worcestershire] Chequers

This village pub has two large rooms. One for drinking, the other for eating. Both were doing well on the night we visited. That’s no surprise. This is a very well run gaff with a front of house crew absolutely on the ball. As they walked through the restaurant area, you could see they were watching every table and quickly spotting when something needed doing. In this, they never passed up an opportunity to try and sell more drinks although, fairly unusually, there was no attempt to upsell water – a jug of tap was offered without being requested.

It’s a shortish menu of around nine starters and a similar number of mains (of which four are steaks).

There were a couple of small, but perfectly crisp, crab cakes, They care enough about provenance to mention the crab was landed at Brixham in Devon. They could have done with more of it, as the flavour was a tad muted. A handful of dressed salad and a dollop of aioli accompanies. That was followed by what was described as a butternut squash Wellington. In reality, just a nicely made pie with good shortcrust pastry, encasing the squash, spinach and maybe a bit of cheese. Alongside, saute potatoes, kale and a rich confit tomato sauce (served separately in a jug)

Tartiflette was a bit of a surprise to come across in rural Worcestershire. I don’t think the French serve this classic as a starter, as they do here. And it wasn’t entirely successful – there’s potato, lardons, onions and Reblochon cheese but it was a bit underseasoned and underwhelming. I sort of knew I should have ordered the lambs kidneys, but I’d already made my mind up to go with lamb as a main.

It comes two ways. A generous portion of lamb rump, served pink and a shortcrust pie, enclosing slow braised meat. To keep up the lamby nature of dinner, spuds were roasted in lamb fat and were delicious. There’s also chard – the leaves wilted and the stems still nicely “al dente”. A sauce soubise reminded me that this was what Mum used to serve with lamb in winter, when there was no mint. Although Mum just called it onion sauce - no poncing around with French terms. A light but very flavoursome gravy set it all off

For desserts, one of us went for a semifreddo, sharp with raspberry and passionfruit and witb a crunch from meringues. Across the table, a single scoop of strawberry was just enough.

It’d been a really nice evening in an area that we’ve previously found to be a bit sparse on the decent restaurant front.