Last day in London and lunch at Heston Blumenthal’s pub: the Hinds Head in Bray

July 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

27 July 2010

A most esteemed and exciting day – we’re off to Heston Blumenthal’s pub in Bray for lunch. To get there, we need to get a tube from London Victoria to Paddington and then catch the train. We’ve got some time to kill, so we decide to go and have a look at Harrods and Harvey Nics in the morning. The thing I love the most (I’m sure you’re surprised) is the food hall in Harrods. I’ve included some pics below – it’s amazing. Kind of like the David Jones food hall in Sydney on steroids. Phenomenal. When we come back to London, I will be stopping into Harrods for a spot of whatever I feel like at lunch time. If I feel like dumplings, I’ll have those. Or maybe I’ll feel like Jamon de Bayon. Or fancy pies. Or terrine. Or caviar. Or something fabulous from the Fromagerie perhaps (BF?) In any event, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find something that takes my fancy in this food hall – it’s just a shame that on this occasion, Mr L and I have bigger fish to fry, so we’re conservative with our buying.

See some pics below and then read on to see and hear all about our lunch at the brilliant Hinds Head hotel in Bray.

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Mmmmm… chocolates

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Food hall

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Dim sum anyone?

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Beef wellington or lobster for lunch?

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Hams and cold meat galore!

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Double thumbs up says Mr L, who is pictured here in pie heaven!

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Mmmm.. cheese…

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The iberico ham house (if you don’t mind!)

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Fromagerie (BF – we need to visit!)

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Tonnes of terrine

On our way out of Harrods, we noticed the Lauduree at Harrods shop. PC tells me she’s got the same pic as the one below from the Lauduree shop in Paris. Since we’re heading there shortly, I may just seek out a twin photo (and perhaps a macaron!)

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Mmmm.. macaron towers – Adriano Zumbo would be proud!

Lunch @ Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head pub in Bray

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My ears are back and my tail is wagging – we’re off for lunch to Heston Blumenthal’s pub in the Berkshire village of Bray, a beautiful little place near Maidenhead Station. Mr L is excited because on our way through to Maidenhead station we passed Slough, which is where the English series of The Office (with Ricky Gervais) is set. Once we’re off the train, we walk through the town of Maidenhead and make our way to a pub (the sun is over the yard arm) for a cheeky pint while we wait for 2:00 to come around. We spend some time laughing at the locals who are all seated at separate tables, but talk loudly enough that they (and we and everyone else) can hear every word they’re saying – chatter about the horse racing, talk of an upcoming wedding and disagreements over the bus timetable seem to be the topics of the day!

Soon enough the time ticks round and we walk back to Maidenhead station to find a taxi to take us to the Hinds Head. Three doors down from the Hinds Head we spot the Fat Duck – the molecular gastronomy restaurant that has caused a stir in the little village and across the world. Sadly, we couldn’t get into the Fat Duck, but Jacque suggested we visit the Hinds Head instead and as we were able to get a seat, well, here we are! The Hinds Head focuses on traditional, seasonal British food – and we’re itching to get a look at some, so we head through the door to the 15th century building.

Champers – yes please!

We figured it was the right thing to do to start with a glass of champagne, and were promptly delivered a glass of the Deutz Brut Classic which Mr L declared was better than the Dom Peringnon Reserve that we’d had during our Easter visit to Quay.

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Us looking stoked with our Deutz Brut Classic champagne

The menu

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The menu

The very lovely waitress talks us through the options we have with respect to the menu. We could go for a two course or three course set menu, or order from the a la carte menu. We ask her what her favourite dishes are and she talks fondly of the crab toast, the mussels and the oxtail and kidney pudding. We decide to choose our own courses from the a la carte menu.

Mr L orders

Brixham mussels cooked with white wine, parsley and garlic (8.95 GBP for the entree size) and
Oxtail and kidney pudding (16.95 GBP) as main

and I order

South Coast crab on toast (9.50 GBP) as entree and (you’d better sit down in case you collapse in shock)
Pork belly with spinach and butternut squash (17.50 GBP)

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Delicious bread

We nibble on some of the delicious bread and butter and look around at the other diners within the busy little dining area.

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The dining area within the Hinds Head

After a short wait, our entrees arrive.

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South Coast crab toast

My crab toast was really quite spectacular. A piece of white sourdough was toasted to perfection, slathered in salty butter and then topped with a mixture of mashed crab and herbs. The herbs made it really fresh and the textures all combined to create a simple, but interesting dish.

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Mr L’s mussels

I was surprised that Mr L chose the mussels as although he likes them, he doesn’t usually find they rock his world. Well – I’m glad he did order them because these mussels were the best either of us had ever had. In the bottom of the large mussel vessel all the juices congregated and when Mr L made it to the bottom (and he did make it to the bottom!), he was then able to dip his bread into the juicy goodness. I’ve included a pic below so you can see how good the juice was!

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Mussel juice – oh so good!

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I’ve never seen this man looking this happy about a bowl of mussels before!

The wine

We knew we were doing it all in the wrong order, but we ordered a bottle of wine after our entrees. Since we’d be heading to France soon, we thought we’d stick with the French theme and ordered a bottle of the Petit Chablis Domaine Brocard from Auxerrois (31.00 GBP per bottle). It was refreshing and crisp.

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Brocard Petite Chablis

The main event

You know me. I love pork belly. So if Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen was happy to prepare it, I was happy to try it!

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Pork belly with spinach and butternut squash

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Cut away to the spinach below

I really enjoyed the pork. When it arrived, I wondered where the spinach was – then I cut away and found it hiding below. The little seedy thing you can see sticking out of the butternut mash was a kind of cracker – I’m not sure whether it was carraway or similar. It had an interesting texture, though I didn’t like the flavour very much. I’m pretty sure the waitress said that the pork belly had been slow cooked in a water bath for hours. The crackling was only crispy around the edges – like it had been charred with an oxy torch, but I suspect that’s what was intended for it.

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Mr L’s oxtail and kidney pudding

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Inside the pudding

The waitress had warned us that this was one rich pudding – as you can imagine the oxtail and kidney combination would be. I’m pretty sure this was a suet pudding too – which added extra dimension and richness to the pudding. The dark gravy that the pudding is sitting in was equally rich – we were glad to have requested some refreshing green beans to break up the flavour as suggested by the waitress. Mr L loved his pudding and when we were both finished our mains, we sat for a while and contemplated whether we really needed dessert!

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The green beans saved Mr L from richness overload

The dessert menu

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We agreed to take a look at the dessert menu and while we had it open, a couple of glasses of dessert wine stood out, so we felt we’d better at least share a dessert to go with them! We went with the Banana Eaton Mess, which wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Lime zest was shaved onto the top and toffee brittle was scattered across it complementing the banana, meringue and cream perfectly.

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Banana Eaton Mess

The Hinds Head

I ventured upstairs to stop in at the loo and took some shots of the place on my way – as well as a customary shot from the bathroom mirror. Shots below!

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One of the two fireplaces – brilliant for a cold day in London

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View from the area where we dined through to the bar

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Board commemorating the Vicar of Bray from the 1500’s

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Devils on horseback – pretty good for bar food!

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Since the Hinds Head’s building is so old, the doorways and ceiling are very low!

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Outside the Hinds Head in the little village of Bray

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Bathroom mirror shot!

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Food critic’s review on the wall in the ladies’ loo

Coffee and the bill

I was feeling a touch sleepy after all the good food and wine, so requested a coffee and the bill. We agreed that all in all it was a tremendous meal. It wasn’t the best pork belly I’ve ever had, but on balance, the whole meal was well worth the travel out to little Bray. We particularly loved our entrees and the approaches to the pudding, the crab toast and mussels. And you can be sure that the next time I make eaton mess, it will include banana and have lime zest on top!

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Including an optional service charge, the whole meal came to 150.36 GBP – which we thought was a bit extravagant for normal pub food, but pretty good considering the quality of the meals that we had. We would be happy to return at those prices.

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Le bill

A nod to The Fat Duck

Of course you know we went and took photos of The Fat Duck. Seems we weren’t the only ones with that idea as we heard another table commenting to the waitress “There doesn’t seem to be much to it!” to which the waitress replied “That’s what chef wants you to think. All the magic happens once you’re inside.” I’m sure that’s true and Mr L and I aim to return to see for ourselves!

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Heston Blumenthal – Grand Chef’s The Fat Duck

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Les Grandes Tables Du Monde

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The degustation menu

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Utensils – one with a webbed food – hang from the roof

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The Fat Duck

The low down

The Hinds Head is located at High Street, Bray in Berkshire, SL6 2AB. Contact details are below:

Phone:        01628 626151
Fax:                01628 623394

Web:        www.hindsheadbray.com

To get there, catch the train from Paddington to Maidenhead Station and then hop in a cab for a five minute drive (about 7 GBP.) We went on a Tuesday, so it wasn’t all that busy, but it’s a good idea to book online if you want to secure a table. Apparently they do take walk ins, but tables are on a first come, first served basis for those without bookings.

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Entry filed under: Beers, Expenso.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! Tally ho chaps, it’s time to travel the old dart!

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