The Hind’s Head in Bray: Heston Blumenthal revamps his michelin-starred gastropub
The village of Bray in Berkshire has earned its status as a top food destination thanks to its two three-michelin-starred restaurants: the world-famous Fat Duck, owned by none other than Heston Blumenthal, and the Roux family’s Waterside Inn. However, their neighbouring gastropub The Hind’s Head – also a michelin-starred place, run by Blumenthal – has established itself as a go-to spot for fine dining in a more casual setting.
Closing its doors for three weeks at the end of March, the restaurant has since undergone a major redesign. While keeping the structure of the Grade II-listed building and its historical architecture, the interiors have been totally transformed to create a stunning space that is full of fantasy and fairytale. The building’s origins as a hunting lodge and coaching inn are brought to life in a playful manner, with indulgent designs, unusual taxidermy along the walls and plenty of rich hues and deep tones that add to the atmosphere of the pub. Oak-panelled walls, antique beams and open fireplaces all remain downstairs in the new dining area and have been enhanced with leather banquettes and heavy wooden tables.
Upstairs, a new lounge tempts with warmth and comfort. The room is softly lit and decked with rugs, comfortable sofas and big armchairs that encourage guests to relax while indulging in a drinks list of artisan cocktails, gins, champagne and wine. Here, they can also enjoy a smaller selection of bar snacks, such as Heston’s famous soft-yolk Scotch Egg, which we try and it proves to be satisfyingly crisp on the outside, while retaining that essential rich, runny yellow middle.
For those after a full meal, The Hind’s Head now gives visitors a choice of three, four and six-course menus that will change on a monthly basis, celebrating British cooking and offering some more history-inspired dishes. We try the Aleyn menu, a four-course meal that is on offer throughout the week for lunch and dinner, beginning with the Ham Hock, Pork Tenderloin and Leek Terrine. Nicely presented, the slice of packed meats is lean while remaining tender, with peppery notes and added tang and crunch from a side of piccalilli. Although this helps lift the dish, the overall feeling is one of blandness, and a choice that is too heavy as a first course.
Scallop Waldorf is beautifully plated and served with a pickled shallot and walnut dressing, which adds sweetness and acidity, with richness from a langoustine oil. Cubes of apple, braised celery and chicory leaves bring freshness to it, and it is light and easy on the palette. A 2015 Mahi Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand is the perfect accompaniment to the grilled scallops, which are sweet and just cooked.
Roast Duck Breast is a delightful main and the perfect spring dish, celebrating some of the season’s finest ingredients. The bird itself is cooked just right, pink in the middle and extremely tender, with sweet notes from a vibrant green wild garlic purée and crisp asparagus.
However, the highlight of the meal is, without a doubt, the pudding. The White Chocolate and Lemon Cheesecake delivers beyond expectation, with a cheese mixture that is just sweet enough, and a deep citrus filling that is verging on too sour, which is refreshing and perfectly balanced against a biscuit ice cream.
The newly redesigned Hind’s Head is a must-visit, its beautiful, opulent interiors to be taken in over a relaxed drink and snack in the cosy and inviting upstairs lounge. The three menus on offer also make the restaurant a go-to spot for delicious, unfussy lunches and dinners for those in the area and for those after a day out in this quaint village near Maidenhead.
To book a table at The Hind’s Head, High Street Bray SL6 2AB, call 01628 626151 or visit here.