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|Address:||Whyken Road, Clavering, Nr Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4QT|
|Price: £38.00||Wine: £12.80||Champagne: £37.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2pm, 6.30-9pm|
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We didn't stand long at the bar of The Cricketers at Clavering because, well, we couldn't stand. Being a proper old aufentik Essex pub the ceiling is so low you could actually lick it if you were so inclined. I like this (the height not the licking) because a) at 5"4' this is the first time I have ever felt tall in my life and b) everyone in the bar was greatly amused by the sight of my 6"6' husband bending his head at right angles to fit in. Luckily we were led through to our table fairly quickly although the spacious restaurant area is not as atmospheric as the bar and feels a little bit like a poshed up Harvester to me. The Oliver name means this place is full to the (low and high) rafters on Saturday night with everyone wanting to know if Jamie learnt it all from his parents. I think he could probably teach them a thing or two now. I started with sautéed duck livers and wild mushrooms which was supposed to come with a “hint” of chilli but our accommodating waitress had suggested the kitchen do without any chilli at all as I am a heat-phobic, very tasty, and then a beef wellington main which was enormous and nice enough although I've had others more memorable. Think more Jamie's Italian than Fifteen. Boys had beers and girls had wine, what brands exactly I can't now recall but I'd be willing to bet some craft ales and a Pinot Grigio featured. It wasn't the most elegant or exciting meal I've had but it was filling, straightforward, fairly well executed, and reasonably priced (£45 a head). Service is pleasant enough and helpful but would obviously be improved by the appearance of The Naked Chef himself. All in all there's something a tiny bit disappointing about The Cricketers; it just lacks the stardust of celebrity which everyone, perhaps unfairly, expects. Better to leave the Oliver expectations at home and take it for what it is: a lovely gastropub with highs and lows, both metaphorical and literal.