Sampling Food And Ale At The Rose & Crown

Young's festival beer on offer in Wimbledon

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While the best of British beer was being celebrated by several Young's brewery pubs in Wimbledon, we thought we'd see how their ale matched their food.

We picked the Rose and Crown in Wimbledon village - one of the Young's pubs which ran a "British Cask Ale Festival" earlier in May.

As their ale festival was just underway, we thought it only right to start by sampling a guest beer - Sharp's Doom Bar - as we studied the extensive menu.

Sharp's is a 4% strength beer, which is brewed in Rock, Cornwall, but becoming a familiar sight in London pubs. It's a good pre-meal beer as it doesn't have an over-powering taste, but is an easy-drinking bitter, with a slightly hoppy and malty taste.

We decided to overlook the starters, including smoked paprika crispy squid (£6.95) and English asparagus, bacon, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce (£6.25), thinking we'd leave room for a dessert.

So it was straight into our main courses - one of their specials: lemon, pea and asparagus risotto, topped with parmesan cheese (£9.95), and, from their main menu, fish pie with peas and cheddar topping (£12.95).

By now we were onto our second half of ale - Young's Special. This is a 4.5% beer, darker than Doom Bar, and with a more fruity and fuller taste.

Before long our meals arrived. The fish pie was a generous portion and packed with a variety of fish, including salmon. It was full of flavour and would certainly be enough for even the biggest of appetites.

My choice was the risotto, which they later informed me was new to their specials menu. It certainly had a zesty taste to it, and the risotto was done perfectly. While it wasn't something I'd have every day, as it was quite distinctive, it was a lovely combination of flavours to enjoy on a warm spring evening.

We shared a tomato and red onion salad (£3.25) with our meal. Other meals on offer included pan-seared scallops with celeriac puree, bacon and blackberry and red wine reduction (£8.95) and a chicken, leek and ham pie (£11.95).

Our friendly and efficient waitress soon appeared with our third beer choice - the brewery's most popular ale, Young's Bitter, known as 'Ordinary' to regulars. This 3.7% beer is very drinkable and more refreshing than the Special and was a good ale to accompany a meal.

By now the pub was almost full, including the attractive outdoor patio area, and there was a pleasant, busy, atmosphere.

As I promised to myself, I'd just about reserved enough stomach room for a final course. We decided to share a pink grapefruit cheesecake (£5.25), accompanied by cream. This was had a lip-smacking taste and a smooth texture. It was a lovely end to our meal.

But wait.....there was one beer left to try. Our knowledgeable waitress was back with a half of Wells's Bombardier (4.3%). This beer had a spicier flavour than the rest and was an excellent way to round off our evening. The manager told me there will be more beers on offer during the festival - with at least four different ales sitting in his cellar. I'll have to make a return visit!

Do you agree with our review? What's your top Wimbledon pub? Why not comment on our forum?

Sue Choularton

May 6, 2011