Happily, the pub has now been rescued from mediocrity thanks to new licensees, Des and Lora Marchant who have moved here from Gosport, Hants. They have worked on the principle that beneath many a tat-ridden nonentity an attractive original interior is waiting to re-emerge. We see again the lathe and plaster ceiling and the huge crossbeams revealed during the major refurb.
Opposite the entrance is a bank of four handpumps; to the right, a bar-room style drinking area; to the left, a more comfortable lounge-type area. The two real ales selling now are Wadworths 6X and Hook Norton Bitter. As trade increases more beers will come on. The Crown is a genuine free house so anything could appear. Basic pub grub - sandwiches to steaks - at reasonable prices are available in the no-smoking dining room.
An occasional brew - Sparkling Wit (4.5%) - is a wheat beer which has been shortlisted for the British Beer Challenge, a Beer Quality competition to be held at The White Horse, Parsons Green in May.
Congratulations to Adnams Brewery on winning the KPMG Enterprise Award for Management Leadership. The management conveyed its thanks to the workforce for responding so readily to the management style. Must be something in the beer.
The green ceiling and pink textured walls extend throughout the pub. In the sports side, along with the darts and pool is the big screen for the big sports occasions. This side is decorated with old Breweriana such as keg fonts, bottles and tankards. The real fire-place will unfortunately never have a f~re since the chimney has been taken away.
The splendid bar has been retained with the interior windows at each end. Behind this, in residence since last October are Wayne and Katie Howell, previously at pubs in Wisbech, Haverhill and Linton (Green Hill). Handpumps, in this previously top pressure pub, followed in November to dispense GK Mild, IPA and the seasonal beer, currently Demon Eyes (4.5%). Abbot was tried but didn't sell.
The number of real ale pubs in the Branch area has dropped into single figures with the installation of handpumps at The George and Dragon, Snailwell (near Newmarket). This is a most welcome conversion as it's a smashing village pub with the classic combination of comfortable lounge and no-nonsense public. The beers on handpull are GK Mild and IPA, the Abbot remaining on top pressure.
Anyone who had the misfortune to visit The Greyhound, Fordham in its dismal down-at-heel, keg-only days will hardly recognise it now. Reborn as The White Pheasant, it has become a stylish, upmarket inn/restaurant. The decor features lots of open brickwork and wood panelling topped up, (to quote the pub's own blurb) "with sumptuous rugs, armourments, books and paintings". To find out what armourments are, you'll have to visit. Real ales are from Scottish Courage and Greene King, such as Theakstons Best, Coura ge Directors and Rayments.
Welcome to David and Maria Thompson who took over The Portland Arms on Mitchams Corner about six months ago. One of their priorities is to bring the large back room into use as a venue for music, fringe theatre etc, otherwise physical changes will be minimal and the full range of GK beers including Mild will continue to be served.