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.
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.