WHAT better way to spend a couple of hours on a Friday lunchtime, after the trials and tribulations of the last 18 months, than taking a family trip down memory lane over a hearty meal?

Indeed, despite life going mostly back to normal from the dark days of Covid restrictions, it still feels remarkably luxurious to be out sharing food with those closest to us – something I hope I will never take for granted again.

The search for a pub lunch for my parents and I took us to The Crosby at Thornton-le-Beans, very much part of family folklore. My parents, Edgar and Linda, were married at the chapel a few yards further up the village, and tell me that back in the day The Crosby was "the place to be". Whether or not that was because it was the only place, I haven't yet established.

Stepping into the cosy bar, the pub's proud racing heritage is clear, particularly in the horseshoe shaped entrances to the smaller dining areas. We hadn't booked, and although the bar was busy with diners already tucking in, we were shown through to the newer dining area at the back. It doesn't quite have the same character as the older part of the pub, but in these times when many people feel more confident to be out and about when social distancing is still applied, its light, spacious lay-out was very welcome.

The menu is packed with pub classics, with starters such as creamy garlic mushrooms (£7.25), soup of the day (£5.45) and prawn cocktail (£7.25). We decided to go straight in for main courses, my mam choosing homemade beef lasagne, with chips and salad (£11.95), and my dad opting for the traditional steak and ale pie, with chips and seasonal veg (£12.95). It being a Friday, I did the obvious thing and went for the roast of the day (beef), with roasties, Yorkshire pudding and seasonal veg (£11). Fears that eating a Sunday lunch on a Friday would throw off my body clock for the next few days proved unfounded.

There was a bit of a wait for the food, but I always find that a comfort, being deeply suspicious of meals which are served up within a few minutes of the order being placed. The portions were a good size, but in no way outfacing. My beef was tender and thickly sliced, the veg perfectly cooked, and the Yorkshire pudding neither too crispy or too soft – a delicate balance. A gravy aficionado, I was satisfied by both the flavour and amount.

Roast beef and a Yorkshire pudding on a Friday, because, well, why not?

Roast beef and a Yorkshire pudding on a Friday, because, well, why not?

The lasagne was piping hot, juicy and entirely delicious. Concious of the fact I was planning to review the meal, my mam asked if she could give it more than ten out of ten.

My dad has had more than a few steak and ale pies in his time, and this one ranked highly. Shortcrust pastry is the correct pie pastry in my humble opinion, with puff pastry so often flaking away into nothingness when up against a proper, meaty gravy. This shortcrust was light, and rustic and entirely befitted the "traditional" description on the menu.

The steak and ale pie was topped with shortcrust pastry, as is entirely correct

The steak and ale pie was topped with shortcrust pastry, as is entirely correct

There was clean plates all round, and even space for desserts. My tangy lemon cheesecake (£6.25) was tangy indeed, but not so much as to feel like the inside of my mouth was about to peel off. My mam's sherry and raspberry trifle (£4.95) was packed with fresh berries and went down a treat. The sponge of the day with custard (£6.25) was treacle, news that made my dad's eyes light up. It didn't disappoint, and came, as requested, with an extra portion of custard.

The bill, which included a glass of wine, pint of Black Sheep and a soft drink, came to a very reasonable £65.05.

Service throughout was excellent from owners Chris and Moira Robson, and their staff, and as well as a trip down memory lane to my parents' courting days, it also seemed like a throwback to a time when country pubs were run by hands-on landlords and landladies who made you feel at home as soon as you walked through the door. Eating venues are ten a penny these days, but quality service and a thoroughly welcoming atmosphere are not. As well as top-notch pub food, The Crosby has these in abundance.

The Crosby

Thornton le Beans



Email: candmp.robson@yahoo.co.uk

Telephone: 0800 047 6892

Website: thecrosbyvillageinn.co.uk

Open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11.30am to 2pm and 6.30pm to 10pm. Saturdays, from 11.30am to 2pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm. Sundays, from 12pm to 3pm and 6.30pm to 9pm. Closed Mondays and Thursdays.

Vegetarian and vegan options available.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9 Service 9 Surroundings 9 Value 10 Lasagne 10