Summer pleasures

Located in pretty Highgate village, the Rose and Crown is a rare find. Head chef Gareth Thomas and his team have worked wonders transforming a traditional pub into a sophisticated but relaxed restaurant.

ROSE & CROWN, 86 Highgae High Street, N6 020 8340 0770

Located in pretty Highgate village, the Rose and Crown is a rare find. Head chef Gareth Thomas and his team have worked wonders transforming a traditional pub into a sophisticated but relaxed restaurant and bar. The Rose and Crown offers far more than conventional pub grub with a pint.

Since becoming proprietor, Gareth has created a welcoming venue which has already started to build a strong local following. Gareth trained with culinary luminaries Pru Leith, Jean Christophe Novelli and Gary Rhodes and has built up an impressive CV. His hard work has paid off because this contemporary restaurant has become something of a jewel in Highgate's crown.

The Rose and Crown has been listed and recommended in the prestigious Michelin Guide 2010 and is the Guide's highest rated restaurant in the Highgate and Hampstead area, which is quite an achievement given the restaurant has only been open for less than two years.

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I visited the Rose and Crown with a friend to sample Gareth's menu which is impressive, combining seasonal foods with Gareth's trademark innovative charm.

For example, take the cauliflower cheese cake starter with pickled beetroot and baby spinach salad. A delightful dish combining the creamy cauliflower balanced with the sharper flavour of the pickled beetroot. My companion choose the seared scallops and confit of pork belly served with apple puree, pea shoots and truffle mayonnaise which she raved about.

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These are two of a variety of starters on the a la carte menu which also includes steak tartare with quail's yolk and crostini and smoked salmon home cured on the premises served with traditional home made soda bread.

It was then time to choose our main courses. I opted for the Gloucester Old Spot ham hock with duck egg and saut�ed potatoes with parsley and mustard dressing which Gareth describes as "posh egg and chips". The ham hock is presented as a tower upon which sits the soft yolk duck egg encircled by the saut�ed potatoes which tastes delicious and gives a new twist to an old classic dish.

My companion could have chosen either of the Welsh lamb rump with haggis hash, garlic puree and broad bean salad or the whole pan roasted sole with green beans and tartare sauce and finally decided on the latter. The sole was lightly pan-fried in butter. A simple dish but excellently executed and the fish was cooked to perfection, succulent and matched perfectly by the creamy tartar sauce and beans.

For dessert, I choose salted caramel and Vairhona chocolate tart with Earl Grey ice cream and my companion the vanilla blancmange.

As well as an impressive menu the wine list at the Rose and Crown is wide ranging in flavour and price with something to match everyone's taste buds and pockets.

Gareth changes the menu seasonally. Summer at the Rose and Crown also offers the additional experience of alfresco dining in the beautiful sunny courtyard garden at the rear of the restaurant. There is a "Garden Menu" aimed at informal and relaxed alfresco dining. The garden at the Rose and Crown provides an ideal setting for a drink or light meals an a great opportunity to socialise with friends.

The staff are very good - helpful, friendly and unobtrusive which is exactly what you want. They also know the menu and can provide an informative run down on the various dishes available.

We enjoyed the a la carte menu but as well as the summer Garden menu there is a Sunday lunch menu including traditional roasts and a set menu on Mondays to Thursdays with two courses for �15 and three courses for �20.

Also both the garden and restaurant can be taken over for private functions such as birthdays, weddings, christenings, barmitzvahs, etc - TRISTRAM RADCLIFFE

Wines: from �14.95

Mains: from �9

Disabled access: Yes

Children welcome: Yes

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