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IF I hadn’t already known who was the brains behind the recently re-launched Crown and Sandys in Ombersley when my wife and I walked in for dinner, it certainly wouldn’t have taken me long to figure it out once inside the stylishly decorated premises.

For this is a layout I’ve experienced many times before in various different corners of the county under the guidance of these prolific publicans.

The historic Crown and Sandys Arms reopened in March after being given the well-rehearsed Scoff & Quaff treatment and, as usual, it looks as though they’ve hit upon a recipe for success.

Brian Hulme and his team have made their name by overseeing a whole host of thriving pubrestaurants in the area with a similar theme running throughout – contemporary interiors alongside great food and well-stocked bars.

The Crown and Sandys is a pub I’ve visited often over the years but, on my latest visit, it was good to see the place back to its bustling best.

There are echoes throughout of Hulme’s other hostelries, which include the Swan at Whittington, the King’s Head in Sidbury, the Fleet at Twyning and Bromsgrove’s the Ewe and Lamb – all of which are excellent in their own right.

On arrival, I was delighted to see the superb Wye Valley HPA was on one of the pumps, so I tucked into a pint of that and my wife had a glass of pinot grigio while we cast our eyes over the menu.

Having been escorted to our alcove table, which kept us nicely out of the hum-drum of a busy dining room, yet without feeling isolated, we settled down to our starters.

My wife chose the freshly steamed mussels with white wine, garlic and cream (£6.50), which was served with fresh bread, while I went for the impressive hot smoked salmon Caesar salad with bloody mary prawns and crayfish tails (£6.50).

When it came to the main course, I was torn between the Moroccan lamb shank tagine with fragrant couscous, mint yoghurt and harrisa (£15) and the Barbury duck breast, braised red cabbage, fondant potato and a red current and juniper jus (£16).

In the end, my wife opted for the former, while I had the latter and both were really enjoyable dishes, although the duck could have been cooked a little pinker for my taste. To finish, we both chose the sticky toffee pudding with ice cream (£5).

The Scoff & Quaff team seem to have worked their usual magic at the Crown and Sandys and I’m sure the place will remain, as it always has been, the vibrant heartbeat of this picturesque village.


Food 4
Service 5
Value for money 4
Ambience 4