CROWN and MITRE Ferry Street, King’s Lynn
TEL: 01553 774669
Although I was born in this area,and have lived here all my life, I cannot recollect ever having been in this proper English pub.
It was only on a recent guided walk (pub crawl) with the amazingly knowledgeable local historian Dr Paul Richards that he recommended it to me.
It is at the end of Ferry Street,and next to the Wetherspoon Globe, which is thought of by some as the Tesco of the pub industry.
The front door of the Crown and Mitre has navigational beacons above it,and an anchor shackle as a door knocker.
As you step inside it is a veritable maritime museum, with ropes, propellers, oars,boat hooks and a host of fascinating nautical artefacts.
The wooden floor is scrubbed, everything is scrupulously clean, and there is immediately a welcoming atmosphere.
The inn has existed since 1743,and the landlord of this free house since 2001 has been Roger Duggan.
Roger is a character,with a quirky sense of humour and a fierce independence.
But he is both witty and extremely attentive, and takes a pride in his work.which is a way of life to him,and this I find admirable.
There are no fruit machines, but, as Roger says “we have conversation”.
There is a large anchor inside the front door, a cannon in the bar,and in the passage to the toilets, an anchor chain and a marvellous large lathe built in 1860 from the Frederick Savage works.
This is a true drinkers’ pub, and the real ales are from East Anglian micro breweries.
They are kept in excellent condition, and I sampled a yeasty Little Sharpie from the Humpty Dumpty brewery in Reedham, a really moreish balanced taste.
The slightly darker beer from the Boathouse Brewery in Cambridge was equally fine.
Diners can sit in the bar area, or in the long upstairs room called the Vinery, which produces a good crop of grapes from the large vine covering the ceiling.
This overlooks the river, seats around 30,and has a wonderful view which must easily surpass any other eatery in King’s Lynn.
There is also a decking area, for drinks when spring and summer arrive.
We chose to sit in the smoke room,now called the dining room, cosy with a nice fire, wood beams,mahogany tables and red upholstered comfortable chairs.
This seats about 20 and has a traditional Axminster patterned carpet.
In the rest of the pub the punters order at the bar,but here it is table service,by Roger’s partner Yvonne.
She is friendly,efficient and makes you feel nothing is too much trouble.
There are three starters – home made soup,pâté and toast, but we both had prawn cocktail,plenty of fresh juicy prawns, good Marie Rose sauce and, to my surprise, not just drab lettuce,but mixed salad leaves(£4.85). This was accompanied by a thick slice of lovely granary bread.
There are nine main courses,including Stilton chicken(£8.35), liver and bacon(£7), gammon steak(£7.95), pork chop(£7.75), scampi(£7.90) and sausage and mash(£7).
My friend had 8oz rump steak(£9.95), a nice piece cooked as she ordered, and I had lamb cutlets, with pleasant minted gravy(£11.25). There were three good size cutlets,and the meat is from a local butcher, but there was a lot of fat,and the meat was not easy to cut and quite chewy.
We both had potatoes and vegetables. The servings were too generous,and the taste was bland and with little flavour,in particular the white mound of shredded cabbage.
It would definitely be better to serve the vegetables in a separate dish, rather than piled on the plate.
I will certainly return, and I think a better choice would be gammon, with chips and peas.
There is no dessert menu,but Yvonne reads out to you what she has.
My companion had jam sponge with lashings of custard, a moist and tasty dish, and for me meringue nest with fruit compote, fresh strawberries and whipped cream (both £4).
My meringue looked heavy, but in fact it was light,and easy to cut, whereas often it is too hard and can shoot off the plate when tackled.
There are good sandwiches and snacks during the day.
Most diners drink beer, and I had started with two halves.
No wine list, however Yvonne had a few wines by the single serve glass,and she helpfully took me to the bar where I found a bottle of Shiraz Rose 2011 from south eastern Australia(£12.95). This was fruity but also with the deepish colour and depth which is so enjoyable.
There is Martell and Courvoisier brandy,and I did not expect other digestifs, but decided for a change to have a liqueur coffee, with what I suggest is one of the best spirits for coffee, Jameson’s Irish whiskey(£4.85). This was made just right with the cream layered on top and not half mixed in.
The atmosphere in this pub is amazing and the service and welcome are outstanding.
This is honest, home cooked food, with ample servings at very reasonable prices.
It does not pretend to be restaurant quality,but if you have not been, it is worth visiting just to see the nautical collection,and because places like this really do deserve our support.
I am not suggesting only a look round, of course, as Roger would expect you to at least buy a drink!
A word of warning,it is a cash only business,no credit cards. On the bottom of the neatly hand written bill,is “hope to see you again”.
And what a difference from the usual small supermarket type receipts with little detail.
To me that typifies the whole attitude of Roger and Yvonne.
1 Open all week(food served lunchtimes and 6pm to 9pm except Sunday and Monday evenings).