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Chef profile: The Crown, Stoke by Nayland

PUBLISHED: 15:51 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:42 20 February 2013

Chef profile: The Crown, Stoke by Nayland

Chef profile: The Crown, Stoke by Nayland

IT WAS a little more than five years ago when Richard Sunderland saw the potential in this authentic village inn at Stoke by Nayland.

IT WAS a little more than five years ago when Richard Sunderland saw the potential in this authentic village inn at Stoke by Nayland.


The building was in need of some TLC but parts of it date back to the 1560s so Richard and his business partner Peter Smith, who used to own the Angel just across the road, decided to breath new life into the historic building.

The Crown enjoys a picture perfect setting, located in the heart of the pretty village of Stoke by Nayland in an area of outstanding natural beauty. 'I didn't appreciate what a lovely farmland outlook the building had as it was hidden by two rows of rather ugly 30ft conifers,' Richard explains with a smile. They removed the forestry and tidied up the side hedges to reveal a wonderful vista.

To make the most of the view they redesigned the interior, moving the bar and the cold store. There's also 11 new double bedrooms tastefully decorated to the highest specifications. The interior is a great mix of smart casual with a wonderfully homely feel and it's cleverly divided up into different eating areas to suit your mood; if you fancy a more formal dining experience or lounging in great comfort with the family its all on offer under one roof. There's even a tiny snug, The Tap Room, for a more intimate occasion.

Richard's background is in the wine industry and his experience and influence has been carried through into The Crown. Top end wines are very reasonably priced indeed, which is perhaps the reason there's a very high percentage of repeat business. It could also be due to the culinary skills of executive head chef Mark Blake and his team. The menu is modern British in style and reflects the local, quality produce available. Chef Adel Salah was in charge of our lunch and he didn't let us down.

To begin we were treated to wood pigeon breast served with pickled mushroom, crispy bacon and a fabulously rich roasted hazelnut pesto. Next was roasted venison haunch sat atop a fresh root vegetable hash, cavalo nero cabbage and a barberry jus - four generous succulent slices of perfectly-cooked venison and the barberry jus worked brilliantly.

To finish we were treated to banana tarte tartin with homemade rum and raisin ice cream. The soft hot caramelised bananas nestled within the light puff pastry and were then rounded off by creamy ice cream with just enough flavour to enjoy without overpowering the rest of the dish. The mix of a unique location, a well thought out menu and interesting company made it one of the nicest lunches I've enjoyed.


Get the taste
The Crown Stoke by Nayland C06 4SE
01206 262001




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