The Jolly Cricketers in Seer Green, near Beaconsfield, has recently been named Pub of the Year at the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Food & Drink Awards 2015 for its sociable atmosphere, excellent food and role at the heart of the local community. We spoke to owner Amanda Baker after their award win.
How did it feel to win the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Food & Drink Award?
Chris and I were delighted to win the award. It is a great endorsement for all the team behind the scenes at the Jolly Cricketers that they are excelling in their roles. A big thank you goes to Matt Lyons our head chef and Emily Meeking our front of house manager.
What do you think is the Jolly Cricketers’ biggest selling point?
It is a Great British Pub that ticks all the boxes. The pub offers everything to a high standard and caters for all. The landlord has great banter at the bar with the regulars and there is always a welcoming atmosphere. It has a buzz!
How important is it for pubs to be at the heart of the local community?
The Jolly Cricketers has become the hub of Seer Green village life. It has brought the village together again over the last 8 years and is a place used for all of life’s major events. The local estate agents say house prices have risen in the village as people love to live within walking distance of a good pub.
Do you have any favourite local producers or suppliers?
Chiltern Farm Foods in Coleshill, which is owned by local farmer Keith Bennett, supplies all our pork and lamb. He produces first class produce and is an excellent supplier.
Would you consider the Jolly Cricketers a gastro pub?
We are unusual in that we are very much a real ale pub with drinkers but also cater to gastro pub standard. We never wanted to be a restaurant in a pub. We are still home to the local cricket team and have a darts team in the local league. Anton Du Beke from Strictly Come Dancing was here when they were playing. He loved the fact there was a group of men playing darts in the pub, a site not seen in many gastro pubs!
What seasonal dishes do you have on the menu this winter?
Two of my personal favourites are the line caught fillet of wild sea bass with white asparagus, spiced butternut squash velouté and flowering sprouts and the sticky toffee pudding, salted popcorn and banana sorbet.
What made you decide to start an external catering company?
The Amanda Baker catering company ran for 15 years before we bought the pub. I trained at the famous Tante Marie School of Cookery in Woking, Surrey and having grown up in Beaconsfield I was asked to cater for private parties and events in the area after finishing the Cordon Bleu diploma and so the business was born.
Does the catering business help bring new customers to the pub?
The catering business works both ways. We gain pub customers through the catering company and also catering customers from the pub. We have just taken on another community owned pub, The Garibaldi in Hedsor Road, Bourne End. This will bring more people to both!
What’s the best thing about running a pub?
The satisfaction we both get from running a pub that has, through hard work and commitment, gained a great reputation in the local area and beyond. It is now enjoyed by so many different people, from celebrities to local builders, The Jolly Cricketers is a level playing field for all. The pub has become the heart of a community and a destination pub, an all-rounder and a true Great British Pub.
What’s your fruit juice personality?
Frobishers Tomato Juice – it makes the best Bloody Marys in the world!