It helps that most London pubs are pretty much all gastro, and thus serve great food. But it also makes it a very competitive space. And Fitzrovia, where the Crown & Sceptre holds court is awash with reworked, on-trend, Victorian boozers. Further complicating the matter is that the gastropub phenomenon means most places menus are very similar. There will be burgers, there will be fish and chips, there will be steak, and most likely, bangers and mash, all made and described in terms of days the meat has hung, or where the particular cows / pigs / lambs were reared.
So how does the Crown & Sceptre stand out from an increasingly competitive pack? And how do you (or I) measure that? Well, it helps that it’s a very good looking pub. (Much like its punters.) Recently refurbished (that’s the pub, not the punters), the Crown & Sceptre boasts a gold and blue exterior that frames its spotlit bar. With light-fittings fashioned out of old milk bottles, wrought iron chandeliers from Morocco and studded leather stools, it’s surprisingly elegant. On a practical level, it has laptop points and a central presentation screen to the rear, making it a great work spot for its media and fashion industry locals.
On a foodie front, the brunch menu was made of the aforementioned pub fare, from which the Northerner went for the pork and chorizo burger with caramelised red onion & fries and cheddar cheese, while I applied my new gastropub 'steak test', and went for the eight-ounce, 21-day-aged rib-eye steak with double cooked chips and watercress with béarnaise sauce. Both dishes were superb. The burger had a most and richly flavoured minced pork patty with some chunky cuts of chorizo and melted cheddar. The steak was perfectly cooked (medium rare) and seasoned. In fact it was one of the best steaks that I’ve had for a long time.
For sweets, the Northerner couldn’t resist the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, which was hearty and bittersweet – just how we like it. I tried the Sipsmith Sloe Gin Eton Mess, partially prompted by the 'adults only' warning that it came with. I’d never tried anything made with Sloe Gin, and it made me wonder why more recipes don’t cook with it. It tasted great. There were a couple of minor flaws in the meal – the tarragon didn’t really come through in the béarnaise sauce, and the Eton Mess was a shade on the creamy side at the expense of the marzipan. But these are minor criticisms it what was overall a superb lunch.
Would I go back to the Crown and Sceptre for pub lunch? Absolutely. And I would throw in drinks and the odd dinner while I was at it.
The Crown & Sceptre
86 Great Titchfield Street
Fitzrovia, London W1W 6SD
020 7307 9971