The Crazy Bear at Stadhampton is part of a small chain of hotels, bars and a farm shop – the latter of which is located next to the hotel.
The venue is awe-inspiring. The gravel car-park is met by a vintage bus that is actually the reception area. The hotel has several totally 'wacky' rooms and a separate building with larger suites. Our room ‘Monte Carlo' was directly inside the door. Upon entering there are inclusive stairs to a beautiful loft room with sloped ceiling and wooden beams. There is a vintage radio/record player and a plush TV (although the maximum volume available is very quiet). There is a metal cupboard with robes and a bathroom to die for; large corner bath, seating and so on. Simply lovely.
The food however? I felt it was a very different story.
To start I had the Mackerel pate, fairly tasty, though very rich, and served with what I felt was no-where near enough bread. My partner had a very bland minestrone soup which was bitty and tasteless. The accompanying roll was served without butter.
My main of salmon and mussel risotto was okay but I felt it was nothing spectacular and a fairly insubstantial, small portion, with little 'going on'. We shared a very small side of chips, these were “twice-cooked” though I'd call them “twice under-cooked”.
The steak and mushroom pie with ale had many decent pieces of steak in it but the short crust pastry meant that I felt it was a little too dry and some more ale would have been nice to add some flavour.
The deserts were lovingly presented, but the “ice cream chocolate cone” was actually what I considered a rather poor semifreddo and my treacle tart was an almost frozen, cold, sticky, hard to digest lump of dry pastry and treacle topped with an absolutely disgusting salty milk ice cream scoop.
The whole experience felt a bit like a cruise ship restaurant, the initially cool wine bottle ceiling soon became gloomy and encroaching and the cushioned walls with large porthole mirrors did nothing to help my impending feeling of sea sickness. Initially I thought there were double the diners until I noticed one looked remarkably like me – the entire wall mirror at the far end, I felt, removed any vague sense of intimacy and did nothing to enhance my experience of the room.
Service was, in my opinion, a bit sloppy. The chips in particular took ages, as did the wine. With barely a bottle under £30 we found one red at around £24 – presumably an unpopular choice as it felt like it took around twenty minutes after being seated for the drink order to be taken followed by another twenty minutes to get the bottle we'd ordered. I did ask a passing waiter (there was a lot of these, perhaps they expected more diners?) and having been told it was in the cellar with no apology offered we waited several more minutes for it to arrive. The waitress did offer to “keep” the wine for us but we declined; fearing we'd never see the rest of it if we let them remove it from the table.
Breakfast the next morning was a continental. A brilliant range of cereals with plentiful options to add, including decent quality nuts. Sticky (and, to my mind, average tasting) pastries and quality glass potted yoghurts. There was also a fruit salad and a good selection of fruit juices and hot drinks. Toast and preserves were offered. The lone French bread stick on the breakfast bar seemed to lack purpose so we avoided it. A cooked breakfast was available for £8 each.
Venue: 2/5 (Breakfast area/bar) 5/5 (Room)