*Guest post by my sister, who doesn't blog but eats out more than I do. Hopefully this will instigate her to blog a bit more for me (and she likes West London, an area I am definitely lacking in). Hope you like. Please leave her nice comments.*
I love being spoiled. Especially with food, though at the risk of oversaturating the blogopshere with another Heston review perhaps I should focus on the fact that it was my birthday and after a hard mornings shopping in (not so near) Bicester, I was very much looking forward to the comely feast that awaited me the Hinds Head. My chum, and I bombed it down the M40 in the pelting rain and screeched to a halt outside here;
Well not exactly outside. Duly following the parking signs for the pub we crunched up an inconspicuous gravel driveway opposite that led to their overflow carpark. A sure sign of the crowds brand Heston is able to draw as it was packed. Cue grumpy strop from me having to walk a whole 4 minutes in the rain! Though grump was short lived as I managed a cheeky peek into Heston’s lab which is curiously based in a little converted shed-like building in the car park... I guess real estate in Bray is a serious commodity now.
After a warm, if a little creepy welcome from the smiling maître'd, we were led upstairs, much to my disappointment. Where was my pub fantasy? No table by the roaring fire, (no fire at all in fact) no ruddy faced old men sipping their whiskeys, no damp dogs snoozing in the gangways to step over. Just crammed to the very-carefully-restored-rafters with the ‘down from London for the weekend’ types. Like us. Embarrassing really to be so predictable. Instead we were led up the charming rickety stairs to our table and pretty much left to it. No really. Staring at our menu’s for a full 15 mins before we even caught a waiters eye did wonders for my already fragile temper, urged on by the early start, ferocious spending and now the everlasting wait for food. Prognosis: not good. Can you tell?
Pic lifted from the Hinds Head website
Finally, our orders were taken and we soon tucked into some fat juicy Scotch Eggs. The salty, crispy, deep fried, melting goodness was enough to disperse the black mood of death, voraciously dipping it into the creamy mustard we were finally off! I was so excited. A round of sourdough bread with densely churned salty butter didn’t even touch the sides…I was really gaining momentum now. The promising start was followed by a startlingly verdant confection of Pea and Ham soup. Now, peas not being my favourite thing, I approached this with trepidation, but it was bursting with field fresh sweetness. The salty nuggets of ham hock were a delight and thankfully, plentiful. Made my tea smoked salmon look a little dull. But the portions were generous and my appetite appeased by the soft, fleshy slices of curiously flavoured salmon spiked with the sharpest of lemons. Mmmmmm.
Onwards to the mains! My Wild Mushroom Macaroni with Fried Duck Egg was earthy and slippery all at once. A quivering duck egg was hastily stabbed and the golden yolk was liberated! Who knew what joy could come from an egg, some mushrooms and the tiniest hint off truffle oil. Me, at last! Delicious. Monk fish cheek scampi with fries for the Scotsman was ok. Crispy, fishy, carby. What more can I say? I definitely got the winner in the mains. He did however have to foresight to order a side of champ. Or was that me? I forget. All I can remember was this incredible spoonful of creamy potato wrapping me in buttered heavenliness. Over and over till I realised I’d practically eaten the lot. Oops.
Somewhat satiated we kicked back and ordered an Apple and Blackberry Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream. 25 long minutes later it was served. Piping hot but frankly disappointing, it certainly was not worth the wait especially as puddings are my favourite course. Soggy crumb and an over sweet compote does not a good crumble make. Neither does a half full teapot constitute £4.50 worth of tea.
We finally paid the bill after almost resorting to removing my top to get the waiters attention - around £60 for the both of us it was quite reasonable but one not quite worth making a return journey for. Very pleasant mannered waiters are all well and good, but appearing very young and with the attention span of a goldfish, I’d go for age before beauty any time.
The Hinds Head - High St, Bray, SL6 2AB
A thoroughly readable review!
(that sounds like I'm damning with fair praise but I'm really not.)
I've been wanting to go there for a while, and still do based on your review, but can't find a reason to be in the area!
Really good writing review. Very good analysis. If you are looking for an old fhasion pub food with fire chek out the mermaid in Rye. The toen is beautiful and the restaurant use local products.
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I wasn't overstruck with the Hinds Head (I have a dog so sat in the pub bit). The meat pud thing was vile, it tasted as if old beef fat had been coated on the outside of the pastry. Quaking pud was good but I won't return.
I like the 5 Bells in Maidensgrove (not far from Henley), they smoke their own salmon and meats, make their own relishes and ketchup and all stuff is local where applicable.
The pub inside is perfect, all things you desire from a country pub are there, at Christmas time decos consist of paper garlands from the 1950s - wonderful!
Don't go on Sunday, limited menu with roast.
I'm hungry now!
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