Yardley Hastings was recently named as one of the top 101 places to live in Britain.
A list compiled by one of the national weekend papers looked for places that provided “the best quality of life to the widest number of people, combining positive community spirit, good local shops and services and attractive outdoor spaces”.
Yardley certainly ticks many of those boxes and chief among its jewels would probably be the Rose & Crown.
Having grown up in a neighbouring village, it is a pub I know well.
However it is some years since I have been back so, keen to join the happy band of villagers, it is an oversight I was happy to rectify.
I am pleased to say very little has changed.
The place still holds the charm of an old English pub, the welcome is still friendly and, most important of all, the food is still superb.
So much so it took a while to eliminate each option on the menu one by one.
The choice – for all three courses – consists of around half-a-dozen ‘Rose & Crown Classics’ along with four specials available on the day. Starters and desserts cost £5.95, mains come in at £14.50.
The selection is well balanced and extremely tempting.
To the shock of my wife, I opted for the salad.
It was a shock as the word “salad” normally only leaves my mouth with the tone of an expletive. The fact it came with black pudding, bacon lardons, crispy potato and Shropshire Blue dressing were the decisive factors and it was the certainly the right choice.
Sue picked the wild Dorset mussels in cider served with sourdough bread, which she said were delicious and certainly smelled superb.
The main course was a tricky one with the Thai red king prawn & mussel curry and pan-seared sea bass only just missing the final cut.
Instead it was slow-roasted pork belly that got my nod.
I have always been a sucker for crackling so the three well-presented slices of pork, each with a wonderfully crispy coat served on mash potato and with an extremely tasty onion gravy, disappeared from the plate with ease.
Sue also went for the slow-cooked option, hers being the shoulder of Somerset lamb.
There was no faulting the quantity with slice piled upon slice, and the quality was pretty high too.
The simple fact is the Rose & Crown, just as it was when I last visited, is still producing extremely good pub food.
The chocolate brownies, crème brulees and sticky toffee puddings were discussed, but declined, as we opted to share a cheese board to finish things off.
Six excellent cheeses – including a creamy blue made in Odell ,of which I am now on the hunt for more – helped see off the bottle of red and bring a highly enjoyable meal to a close.
As you would perhaps expect of a pub that has won consistently at the Northamptonshire Food Awards over recent years, it was difficult to find much to fault.
And the fact the place was nigh-on full for much of the Monday on which we visited – hardly the busiest night for most venues – is testament to its popularity.
Unless they had all come just hoping a bit of that special Yardley Hastings feeling rubbed off on them...
VALUE: Definitely worth the money
SERVICE: Very attentive, very friendly
DISABLED ACCESS: Not easy
COST OF OUR MEAL: £80.80 including drinks
JIM’S STAR RATING: 9/10