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Wantage Road, Chieveley
Local foodies may recall this picture-perfect pub-with-rooms as The Crab at Chieveley, but following a takeover by the Epicurean Collection in April 2015, it has been refurbished and rebranded as Crab & Boar. Set in lush Berkshire countryside close to Lambourn, this venue still has plenty of aces up its sleeve – from chic Country Living interiors to pretty outdoor spaces. The original Crab was famous for fish, and fresh seafood still play its part on the menu – although it now competes alongside seasonal meat and game dishes with a strong British accent. Porthilly oysters, charred octopus with broad beans and Jersey royals or Cornish plaice with leeks, braised chicken wings and macaroni share the billing with, say, beef tartare, grilled sirloin steaks, spatchock chicken or pork belly with wild garlic and celeriac purée. For afters, think British with lemon posset. In fine weather, also look out for ‘kitchen garden’ menu of small plates and salads. Chic bedrooms make The Crab & Boar an affordable escape for sporty Londoners too (racing and country pursuits are thick on the ground hereabouts).
Square Meal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2015 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in May and June 2015. Thousands of readers and bloggers took part and the results were moderated by the Square Meal editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The survey does not ask for or include any restaurants in London. Click here for a full list of Square Meal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
UK's Top 100 Restaurants 2015
Wantage Road, Chieveley
Newbury Station 7km
Newbury Racecourse Station 7km
M4 Junction 13 2km
Chieveley Services 3km
Mon-Sun 12N-2pm (Sun – 3pm) 6.30-9.30pm (Sun - 8.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
Situated in the heart of the countryside between Newbury and Oxford the Crab is a peaceful haven for wonderful leisurely sumptuous seafood. The decor is appropriate with lobster pots and fishing nets and many unusual objet d'arts to catch the eye. The chef's were originally trained by Richard Corrigan and this definitley shows and were awarded with Best Seafood Resaurant in UK aqfter only being open for just over one year. Extensive range of seafood on the menu along with some beautifully cooked meat for the carnivores. Service is impeccable. Attention to detail is perfect and also excellent value for money. To top it all there are varoious themed bedrooms available, themed on famous places such as Treetops or Raffles and all with either extraordinary bathrooms or private hot tubs. I cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough.
Food + drink: 4
Dinner, 12th January 2008
An exceptional fish restaurant just off junction 13 of the M4
I chose this venue for an alumni meeting of ex-colleagues – they work West and I am in London, so The Crab was a good venue almost midway between locations. Unless you know the area, it is not easy to find – coming off the M4 from London you need to take the road to the left after the Red Lion pub in Chieveley, travel out of the village, looping round the no-through route to North Heath, across open country before heading north on the Wantage Road. Initially the Crab appears to be a picture postcard pub sitting by the road, despite its modern sign with a vibrant orange crab on it, however it is in fact a suberb restauarant with some exceptional rooms (many with hot tubs and private gardens).
We met for a drink in the smart sitting area near the front reception – comfy sofas and arm chairs and a sophisticated ambience. I was late and my friends had already ordered a couple of beers – delicious roasted nuts came as an accompaniment – no good for people trying to shed their extra Christmas pounds. I ordered a spicy tomato juice to sip while considering the menu – my drink was exemplary of its kind and would have been even better with a vodka in it…but I was driving. We selected some interesting starters – Marcus had king scallops in a white chocolate and caviar sauce – they were plump and sweet and went well with the complex flavours of the sauce (sweet and sour). I had queen scallops simply grilled under breadcrumbs and Edam – succulent little nuts of flesh, although a little difficult to prize out of their dish due to the Edam coating. Rob had a crab risotto – served with tender mussels – given the speed with which it vanished, it was clearly very good. Both Rob and I had king crabs to follow – his cold with a salad and mayonaise, mine hot with a simple garlic butter. They were amongst the biggest crabs I have seen, but cooked to perfection and ready cracked to better enable getting the flesh out of the shells. Marcus had a dover sole, simply grilled and served with seasonal vegetables, goose fat and new potatoes. We had a refreshing bottle of New Zealand Sauvignan Blanc (Spitfire Mark II) to accompany our meal – it was delicious and I will hunt it out again. We skipped dessert (defeated by the size of the crabs) but expresso coffee, filter coffee and fresh mint tea were all delicious, as were the petit fours and madeleines that accompanied them. Service for the main part was fine but not polished – our waitress confessed to hating the look and feel of crab legs and asked me to swivel my plate so that she would not have to make contact with them when clearing things away. (An unusual and potentially troublesome phobia to have when working in a fish restaurant named The Crab!)
The restaurant is festooned with fishing nets and nautical/piscatoreal paraphanalia – fun and unexpected so far in land. It is a surprisingly romantic venue, but good for most social meetings – I might bring my other half here and spend the night in one of the rooms after a glorious meal.
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