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Crowther’s, Hey Green Hotel, Marsden

Hazel Davis makes the wrong choice in the right setting

Published on January 14th 2010.

Crowther’s, Hey Green Hotel, Marsden

Benjamin Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And so I probably got what I deserved when I opted for spatchcock chicken and string fries at the Hey Green Hotel in Marsden.

A spatch cock is a baby chicken with its backbone removed, flattened out and grilled. So when it arrived, I had what looked like a large barbequed frog on my plate.

For some reason unable to decide what to have, I chose against the more exciting but slightly more unknowable butternut squash risotto and pretty much ordered chicken and chips.

Even as I said the words I knew the spatchcock chicken wasn’t what I really wanted. For those who don’t know, a spatch cock is a baby chicken with its backbone removed, flattened out and grilled. So when it arrived, I had what looked like a large barbequed frog on my plate.

The Hey Green Hotel and Crowther’s Brasserie is nestled pleasingly at the head of the Colne Valley, a mile and a half from the Pennine Watershed and in a pleasant wooded valley. A 19th century mill-owners house with landscaped gardens and woods, the hotel is a leafy refuge from the surrounding bleak moorland.

When we arrived at the brasserie in the pouring rain, there was a wedding going on inside and photographs being taken in the entrance. So as we stood awkwardly, one of the restaurant staff came to rescue us. Trudging through the wedding party in our wet jeans, the staff assured us that it didn’t matter a jot. That’s one of the joys of Crowther’s. It’s in stunning surroundings, in a top-notch hotel but you could pitch up in shorts and they wouldn’t mind.

With flagstone floor, clean white walls and crisp white tablecloths, Crowther’s sits underneath the main hotel with views out to the woods and hills. Its cellar nature makes it a quiet and intimate venue, a far cry from the wedding ribaldry taking place upstairs and its décor is calming and elegant.

The menu (disappointingly printed on thin paper with an un-classic font) is traditional English cooking, including roast beef, belly pork, trout and apple pie and custard.

For a starter, my companion had ham hock and soft cheese terrine (£4.95) with a “nice and loose piccalilli” and a hint of carraway. I opted for a lovely chick-pea and feta salad (£4.75), nicely presented but more than enough for a main course.

It was when the mains came that I came unstuck. My partner had the honey-roast belly pork with sage and apple mash- “crispy on the outside, nice and soft on the inside but the mash flavours could have been a bit bigger” (£10.95) and I had the said frog-chicken (£11.95) which, uncharacteristically for me, I just couldn’t face. I tried a few chips, which were just poor McDonaldsesque fries but it was too late. Everyone around me seemed to be eating lovely robust English food with nice smells and huge plates. I had chicken and fries. Child’s food.

I stuck out my bottom lip and bided my time for pudding, ordering the sherry trifle (£4.95) while my partner had chocolate fondant with runny cream (£5.25). But I had sowed the seed. While my partner’s chocolate fondant oozed liquid and squished pleasingly under-fork, my sherry trifle appeared to have been prepared before the war and my spoon bounced off the custard bedrock like Japanese bullets bouncing off a Sherman tank. I am prepared to admit that my dislike of my chicken was a personal thing and down to my inability to make an appropriate choice but the trifle was something else entirely. Devoid of moisture and not at all like my Auntie Joy taught me to make, I could taste no sherry and nearly broke my teeth on the jelly.

With yet another course unfinished, I smiled through gritted teeth when the incredibly attentive and friendly waitress asked how it was. We ordered coffee and it came, weaker than I would usually like (but then I do like it strong) and with no spoons.

Here’s the thing. My partner’s food was really nice. I tried all of it. Mine wasn’t. The service was excellent, no, remarkable. The surroundings were lovely and the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming. I know that on another day and with different choices I will come to a different conclusion but today wasn’t that day.

Rating: 12/20
Breakdown: 4/10 Food
4/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Crowther’s Brasserie
Hey Green Hotel
Waters Road
West Yorkshire
01484 848000
01484 847605

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AnonymousJune 5th 2008.

You forgot to mention the biting midges, that ruined my evening, my partner had 110 bites the next morning. They don't mention this in their information, they're next to a tepid lake so there are millions of them.I'd add that reception has peeling wallpaper behind the desk, there's a water leak stain as you walk into reception.More Fawlty Towers.The lights in our hotel room were dirty, and in the dust were many midges, they get everywhere.I would avoid this hotel unless you want 2 weeks off work due to infected midge bites.

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