The New Pub Garden Menu at The Compasses Inn, Crundale
Saturday marked the beginning of English wine week, so as my favourite pub have recently launched a garden menu where I knew I’d also be able to enjoy an ice cold bottle of my favourite English rosé wine in said garden (Hush Heath’s Nannette is just amazing, so crisp, fresh and refined), I enlisted my parents so we had enough people to sample every single item on the menu. It is no secret that my favourite place to eat is The Compasses Inn in Crundale (my family and I can be found there for most special occasions, as well as just because we feel we’ve not eaten there recently) and while I’ll never turn down a meal in the bar, the garden is where it is at this summer with incredible, pub classic small plates at £5 each. And you don’t have to book.
I first discovered Hush Heath’s Nannette Rosé when it was a relatively new arrival, when the Compasses Chef Robert posted about it on his Instagram. As there was only a limited amount at first I cheekily asked for a bottle to be put by as I was due in for lunch. My Dad was driving so he naturally only had a glass, and then my mother and I sat there and drank the rest of the bottle, and then another one. It is bright, fresh and crisp. This is the wine to serve to all nay sayers of still English wines, and it is perfect on a hot summers day.
As I mentioned, we ordered one of everything. The beer battered cod with homemade tarragon mayonnaise was perfect; totally crisp without a hint of grease, the usual reason I don’t order something like this. A must-order are the lamb scrumpets – something I rarely see, beautiful and crisp on the outside, rich and (beautifully) fatty and melty on the inside, served with a bright wild garlic pesto. Not on the menu, but arrived out to us (a menu test) were some fantastic meaty, cheesy croquettes which I did try one of, in spite of the whole cheese thing. If you see them appear on your visit, they are well worth an order!
Next, we have some fantastically flaky mini lamb and potato pasties (so more-ish) with a fantastic, thick, rich dip, some simply wonderful truffle chips (crisp and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside) with slithers of brie melted on top, and one of my top must-orders from what was an outstanding table: sweetcorn fritters with chipotle mayo. Not only were the fritters sweet and bright, but they were also light, slightly spicy and just like the fish, without a hint of excess fat. I want a jar of the dipping mayo to keep in my fridge.
If you’re after something a bit lighter for lunch, the deliciously light onion seed bread from the main restaurant indoors is served with a punchy red pepper dip. Or, if you do want a salad you won’t be disappointed. This lighter twist on a caesar has a beautiful, creamy, unami dressing and crisp, crunchy, garlicky croutons. Perhaps for a light lunch, get a salad, some fish and some truffle chips?
We thought we were full, but then we were informed that there was Eton Mess for the pub garden. And yes, while my parents shared one, I enjoyed a beautiful bowlful of fresh and macerated strawberries, pillows of vanilla cream and beautiful meringue shards all by myself, and I am not at all sorry.
You can check out my full review of lunch at The Compasses Inn here, in case gardens are not your thing, but I advise you to book! However, as I said if it is a sunny day and you do just want to stop by the pub garden menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays, and you can usually check out what is on offer in advance on The Compasses Instagram.