Family-friendly pub ahoy!
The Roald Dahl Museum has just reopened in Great Missenden - if you're heading down, you'd be a Twit not to try this friendly pub nearby
There are only so many roast dinners I can scoff before I start to get mistaken for Mr Creosote, so I dispatched Muddy’s commercial director Jo Sutherland to pull on the hallowed elasticated-waist reviewing pants and headed down to her charming local to forensically investigate the menu. Go, Jo!
A few hundred yards from the Roald Dahl Museum, at the end of the picturesque, very sweet and often bunting-festooned Great Missenden High Street, you’ll find The Cross Keys. And there you’ll quite possibly find moi, propping up the bar with my silver, engraved tankard to hand. I must admit this pub is one of my personal local favourites and the scene of many a school mums’ night out, either in the cosy bar in the colder months or on the pretty patio in the summer. It’s also the a good spot to pop in for a drink, lunch or dinner after a tramp through the Chilterns, especially if you’ve been dragging reluctant teenagers behind you and thus need a stiff drink. But I hadn’t eaten here for a while so I gathered up the brood and headed off for Sunday lunch.
A 16th century red-brick inn, it’s simply designed and comfortable with traditional decor. The small front bar is dog-friendly and a place where parents with toddlers, chilly walkers and locals can all toast their toes in front of the lovely fire in the winter. My top tip? Get there early doors to bag a window seat. From Stuart the owner to Andy the manager and their smiley team of waiting staff, everyone is warm, friendly and attentive, and both bar and dining room have a laid-back but lively feel.
SCOFF & QUAFF
This is classic pub food but, well, better, with everything cooked from scratch, using ingredients from local suppliers wherever possible. Firm favourites such as the Sunday roasts and fish and chips are a permanent fixture but the menu is updated seasonally, with new specials added weekly.
We shared starters of ham hock and pea croquettes with tomato relish and cauliflower popcorn and aioli. They were light, spicy and just a bit different. The biggest revelation was that my children willingly ate cauliflower and actually enjoyed it.
My husband and daughter had the beef and pork roasts respectively and my husband (foodie and hard to please) was very impressed. My daughter, not a big eater, wolfed it all down. My son had the homemade chicken, ham and mushroom pie, a speciality made memorable due to the hand-raised short crust suet pastry and the generous fillings. I went for the cheddar-topped fish pie, which was tasty and packed with haddock and salmon. There could have been more sauce but that didn’t stop me.
Even though we were nicely full, sticky toffee pudding, treacle tart and chocolate brownie were ordered in the name of research. The owner’s wife makes from them all from scratch and all were delicious. In fact, my family unanimously declared that they were better than mine. I pride myself on my puddings so it was all a bit awks actually.
OUT & ABOUT
You probably saw the recent headlines about the village’s newest additions – statues of Roald Dahl’s beloved heroine Matilda and the somewhat less beloved Trump, the former staring down the latter, as she did in the book to her horrible headmistress. Having been plonked in a field for a photo shoot, the odd couple are now relocated in the museum’s courtyard for its reopening this weekend (it’s been closed for six months after flooding.) There are also lots of good walks around these parts – it’s the Chilterns, innit – with the pub recommending both a three mile trail and an eight mile one (check you out, Paula Radcliffe!). Details are on the pub’s website or just ask the staff.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: An evening drink with friends or a pit-stop after a walk with kids and dogs. Although once the museum reopens, it makes sense to book.
Not for: Those wanting super-adventurous food or an intimate date night (everyone is so friendly). And if you’re after wow-factor interiors, this isn’t your place.
The damage: In line with what you’d expect for pub grub and good value considering the quality. Starters are £6-8, while mains range from pizzas( £12 max), to the steak (£22.50). All puddings are around £7, ditto kids’ meals.
The Cross Keys, 40 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks HP16 0AU. Tel: 01494 865373
Words: Jo Sutherland