Walkers Lane, SHORWELL, nr Newport, PO30 3JZ
A traditional country pub in the pretty village of Shorwell, a short hop south-west from Newport. After World War II, the Crown was one of the first pubs to boast an island-wide trade thanks to the entertainment value of its then landlord, Vivian 'Nutty' Edwards, who entertained customers nightly with his music hall approach to tales from his army days; Nutty retired in the 1960s to become the island's last Chelsea Pensioner. Today's owners, Nigel and Pamela Wynne, are continuing this heritage of welcoming hospitality, with a family-friendly approach throughout the all-day operation. The rear garden boasts a children's play area, bounded by a spring-fed stream where trout, ducks and moorhens can be spotted. Parts of the Crown date from the 17th century, although its varying floor levels suggest many subsequent alterations. The most recent building work has increased the floor area significantly, but the pub's character has been preserved with log fires burning and antique furniture in abundance. Real ales include Goddards that's brewed on the island, while cider comes from Healey's Farm in Cornwall. If you overindulge, you might glimpse the female ghost who is friendly but shows her disapproval of customers playing cards by throwing them on the floor (the cards, that is, not the customers). The kitchen makes good use of locally sourced lamb, beef, game and fish in daily specials. Otherwise pub staples include lasagne, curries, scampi or beer-battered fish with chips, a range of pizzas, and sausages with mash. Steaks, gammon and burgers from the chargrill are understandably popular, but vegetarian choice is good too with dishes such as wild mushroom and spinach gratin.