In a nutshell
Fine dining, but without the dress code. Crockers is an original blend of immaculate food (watch head chef Scott Barnard cook from your round-the-pass seat) and jovial kitchen banter.
Scott comes from nearby The Grove, and you might recognise him as a MasterChef: The Professionals 2015 finalist. Don’t be fooled by his casual demeanour – Scott’s food is painstakingly intricate.
Scott Barnard in the kitchen
What’s the vibe?
There’s something therapeutic about watching the team rearrange yarrow fronds in front of you. The restaurant feels exclusive, but without formality – owner Luke Garnsworthy encouraged us to “lick our plates clean”. It’s a classy upstairs dining room, all blue grey and copper in colour.
What’s the food like
Come here for the tasting menu, an eight-course journey that starts with one-bite snacks (the best of which was a glossy smoked cod roe emulsion on bubbly squid ink tapioca) served with a glass of light, biscuity house cava.
Plump quail was made all the more juicy with a roast onion broth (this is the plate we licked clean); pearly white fillets of Cornish hake were paired with a warming curry emulsion; and cumbrian lamb was the centrepiece of a kind of posh Caesar salad, with charred baby gem.
Dessert was a four-pronged affair, including Sussex Cornerstone cheese washed in local Tring Brewery ale, served like raclette on homemade crumpets; Valrhona caramel chocolate with salted milk ice cream and a lick of edible gold; and homemade Ovaltine fudge and lemon popcorn meringue.
And the drinks?
Front of house Ian Churchill makes up for a lack of sommelier with his vast knowledge and breezy persona. Pick the fine wine flight, especially for the surprisingly herbaceous Uruguayan Alcyone Tannat dessert wine.
If the tasting menu at £80 per person is too much, a midweek set lunch includes five of the same courses for just £35.