Set in Warwickshire, just 90 miles from the centre of London, this well-regarded gastro pub makes the perfect weekend jaunt from the capital if you’re after some seriously good grub.
Andreas Antona spent his formative years in the kitchen of this coaching inn before upping sticks and eventually moving to Simpsons in Birmingham – so it’s fitting that he’s back in charge of the revitalised Cross, coming full circle on his journey.
Inside, there are all the signs of a mature, expert facelift, with swathes of upholstered leather and baronial wood panelling offset by tin ceiling tiles and industrial lights, while Antona’s long-time colleague Adam Bennett runs the kitchen. The result is elegantly worked food with a Michelin star and three AA Rosettes to its name and a focus on stunning Euro-accented flavours – from wood-smoked eel with ‘potatoes, potatoes, potatoes’, sorrel and capers to loin of Cornish spring lamb accompanied by glazed carrots, apricots, cracked wheat, sheep’s yoghurt and spiced jus. The Cornish crab soup with saffron mayo is “to die for” one SquareMeal reader offers, while dessert could bring orange and gingerbread soufflé with chocolate and cardamom ice cream.
If you’re the kind of diner who enjoys watching the buzz of a restaurant from your seat, try to arrange a table in the back room, which overlooks the kitchen with its chefs busily bustling around to prepare your food. Alternatively there’s a lovely room next door that is flooded with natural light, which used to be a classroom and now houses a collection of graciously-spaced tables.
Service is “as good as the decor” says another reader, set lunches are a savvy choice for the local business crowd, the drinks list reads well and they stage terrific wine evenings too. We’re finding it hard to think of a reason not to visit.