Pop up at The Cross
Eat, drink and be very merry at the new pop-up restaurant at The Cross at Croscombe, near Wells – with Mary Cadogan in the kitchen
Wasn’t sure what to expect at the new pop-up restaurant at The Cross at Croscombe – the latest collaboration between the hostess with the mostest and owner of the luxury B&B, Terri, and cook/food writer Mary Cadogan. Would we all have to sit at long benches? Or make conversation with everyone round one big table? Eeek. With my three party jokes in my pocket, we set off for supper.
Dating back to the 15th century, the former leper hospital and village pub, The Cross at Croscombe (named for the weather-worn stone cross outside) is now a sleek little guest house in the village of Croscombe, about three miles from Wells. Alongside all the oak beams, flagstones, wooden floorboards and wood-burning stoves, The Cross is filled with some quirky bits and bobs.
The pop-up felt like a cross between an invitation to dinner with friends and a relaxed country restaurant. With a background in the hotel trade (general manager at The Swan in Wells and the Francis Hotel in Bath), Terri knows how to make things run smoothly and has the enviable knack of making everyone feel like we’ve known her, and each other, for ages. As we mingled with the other guests (couples, groups of pals) in one of the two lounges, enjoying prosecco (included in the price of the meal) and trays of canapes – Scottish smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill on oat cakes and some spicy mini poppadoms topped with labne, mango salsa and flecked with coriander and black sesame seeds (that’s them below) – there was definitely a bit of a party feel in the air.
SUPPER IS SERVED
The cosy dining room had tables set for parties of differing sizes and was nicely atmospheric. We were shown to our table, sharing with another couple, and everyone was soon jabbering away. Terri was front of house, serving dinner and bringing wine. You buy your incredibly reasonably priced booze separately (choice of three of red, white and rose), and glasses came filled high – really high (hic).
Of course, Mary’s in charge of the kitchen. Deputy editor then food director of the BBC Good Food magazine for over a decade, author of 18 cookery books and years of running her own cook school in France and a cook club back here in Somerset, we were in excellent hands.
Everyone eats the same set menu unless you’ve arranged for something different beforehand (they can accommodate any dietary requirements). It being 25 January, as a nod to Burns Night, there was a bit of a Scottish theme going on. So the starter was a Macsween haggis-stuffed field mushroom sitting on a crisp round of garlic toast, served up with red onion confit and winter salad.
Main course was local venison slow cooked in port, shallots and huge plump and juicy cranberries, a mash of potatoes/swede/spring onions topped with parsnip crisps and roasted cabbage. We got seconds, too – now you don’t get that in a regular restaurant, do you? It would have been rude not to, right?
Dessert was a jam jar of Scottich cranachan – delicious layers of cream and marscarpone with whisky, raspberries and honeyed roasted oats topped off with a slice of shortbread.
If you don’t want the evening to end, you can book to stay over in one of five bedrooms, each named after Somerset rivers, most with king-sized beds and all ensuite. You’ll get a stonking breakfast in the morning as well.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Generous portions of good country cooking in a super relaxed, convivial environment. A fun night out with old friends – and you might make some new ones.
Not for: those looking to eat in a formal setting with classical muzak, starched tablecloths and silver service.
The damage: £29.50 per head, which includes pre-dinner prosecco and nibbles and a three-course meal. Coffee, soft drinks and booze are extra but with wine at £16 a bottle, I’m not complaining.
There are suppers, each with a different seasonal menu, throughout 2018: Thurs 29 March, Fri 4 May, Thurs 31 May, Fri 13 July, Fri 24 August and Sat 15 Sept. The evening starts at 7.30 with dinner at 8. Booking is essential!
The Cross at Croscombe, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset BA5 3QJ. Tel 01749 343352.