Until a couple of years ago, the Crown Inn was best avoided if you were after fine food and drink (think sticky carpets and faded Sky Sports banners drooping over the entrances).
Then came a £2 million makeover for this 16th-century coaching inn, which turned it from unloved watering hole into a posh pub, restaurant and hotel.
We headed to the Crown for a late-afternoon Sunday lunch last week. Naturally, I ordered a burger instead of a roast.
Here’s how it fared in my search for Hampshire’s best burger.
About this burger
- Date visited: 30 April 2017
- Name on menu: “6oz Chalcroft farm beef burger”
- Price: £13
How this burger scored
Patty – 6/10
Tasty patty, which included the welcome addition of the odd mustard seed. And, not overcooked.
But a little too juicy for me, which ended up making the bun very wet.
Chips – 6/10
Delicious skin-on chips. However, there were a few scraps lurking beneath the first chips I ate, bringing the score down a tad.
Bun – 7/10
The cholla bun was tasty enough. But it couldn’t handle the extra burger juices. So it fell apart rather easily.
Toppings – 10/10
I can’t fault the toppings – crispy bacon, sliced gherkin, lettuce, tomato and onion.
And strong Gouda cheese made with Fuller’s own HSB bitter, which made a nice change to cheddar.
Ambiance – 10/10
The Crown Inn is a lovely pub – low ceilings, tasteful wall ornaments and artwork, wooden beams aplenty, homely furnishings and a mix of flagstone and timber flooring.
There’s a patio outside too, although it’s near a main road so sitting outside isn’t as peaceful as it could be.
The ruins of Bishop’s Waltham Palace are across the road if you fancy a wander after your meal.
Drinks selection and quality – 8/10
Fuller’s ales like “London Pride”, “HSB” and “Seafarers complemented with a local guest beer, which today was Flower Pots’s “Gooden’s Gold” (4.8%).
I had a couple of pints of Goodens, which went down a treat with my burger.
There’s a good selection of other drinks available too.
Condiments – 5/5
Tasty ketchup and English mustard available on request. Perfect.
Presentation – 2/5
What is the justification behind serving potentially messy food on wooden boards? And a very small board at that?
By the conclusion of my meal, the table was covered in burger juice. Fortunately, I stopped it dripping on my jeans.
Ignoring the board and the pail for the chips, the burger looked the part when it arrived.
Service – 5/5
Excellent service – knowledgeable, attentive and friendly without being over the top.
Value for money – 5/5
I can’t fault the cost – a generous serving in lovely surroundings.
Penalties – minus 2
It’s a been a while since I’ve had to deduct two points in one sitting – minus one point each for the wooden board and metal chip pail.
The Crown Inn is a lovely pub, in a lovely setting.
The burger and the beer, only let down slightly by the over-juicy patty and the chips. Oh, and the pail/board combo.
Don’t let that put you off too much though – this place is definitely worth a visit, whether it’s for the burger or something else (the Sunday roast is pretty special).
Info: The Crown Inn is at The Square, Bishop’s Waltham, Southampton, SO32 1AF. Call 01489 893350. Note the car park is opposite the pub on the main road, not on The Square itself.