Featured Restaurant: The Cricketers

18th May 2018

The Green • Sarratt • WD3 6AS • 01923 270877

Reviewed by Lisa Botwright

I first came across this delightful country pub during a Sunday afternoon amble – it’s set in the heart of Sarratt Village, moments from stunning Chess Valley walks. I was wearing wellies and covered in mud, and sat at a table outside overlooking the green, drinking a glass of wine, idly watching village life go by. It was heaven.

This time around I’m dressed a lot more smartly and really looking forward to trying the food. We’re led to the restaurant area towards the back of the pub and find it characterful, cosy, and enchantingly lit with candles. The French doors are open to allow the warm spring evening air in, and we look onto a flower-filled courtyard, sheltered by a pergola full of tumbling wisteria.

The menu is full of seasonal ingredients and the chef seems to have thought of something for everyone. There’s local game to reflect the countryside setting, cauliflower ‘rice’ as a side to keep dieting carb-avoiders happy and clever twists to update traditional classics, such as my choice of starter… Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Jelly with samphire and horseradish crème fraîche, which arrives elegantly in a cocktail glass filled with a layer of vivid green jelly, and topped with an artful mess of samphire sprigs, smoked fish and crème fraîche. The jelly is super-refreshing and works well with the salty bite of the samphire and the heat of the horseradish; the fish, of course, is delicious too: my only gripe is there could have been more of it.

My Husband’s (H) choice is much more hearty – a big plate of Grilled English Asparagus with poached egg and sautéed chorizo. To my mind, asparagus is the hero of English spring veg, and this is a gorgeous concoction. A welcome excess of tangy oil from the scattered cubes of chorizo, along with the runny yolk of the egg, make it feel really indulgent. ‘I win this round,’ he tells me smugly.

Happily the next round is a tie. H is delighted with his Chicken, Ham Hock and Leek pie with buttered mash, and I’m charmed by my Seared Duck Breast with confit duck croquette, poached rhubarb, butternut purée and madeira sauce. The two plump duck breasts are perfectly cooked (although the skin could perhaps have been crispier) and the croquettes full of confit duck give me an exquisitely dense savoury hit. I enjoy dipping the meat into the peppery butternut purée, and the whole dish is saved from potentially being overly sweet or rich by the addition of some lovely fresh spears of broccoli. H’s pie is stuffed full of tasty meat and veg in a creamy sauce, encased in perfectly cooked pastry. No soggy bottoms here.

We do the ‘shall we, shan’t we’ thing as we consider dessert, which, as we all know, only ever leads one way. But rather than opting for something sweet, we’re swayed by the cheeseboard, with its samples of four British cheeses: Barbers vintage Cheddar, a Camembert-style Tunworth, Rosary Ash goats cheese and Oxford blue, served with a selection of biscuits, quince jelly and celery. The quince jelly, which sounds beguilingly like something from an Enid Blyton picnic, lends an aromatic tartness. And of course, we need an extra glass of wine to accompany it all.

I do love this pub. It’s welcomed me in wellies and in high heels; for drinks and for dinner. It’s both a cosy local, and a dining destination. And even if you’re tempted to over-indulge, you can promise yourself you’ll definitely burn off the calories with a local, scenic Chiltern walk, straight from the door…

STARTERS: £5.95-£10.95 • MAINS: £11.75-£23.95
DESSERTS: £5.95-£6.25 • HOUSE WINE: £17.95

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