Ok so it’s not the Fat Duck and no, Heston doesn’t work there in the kitchen himself, but I did have dinner at one of his concerns the other night. Celebrity chef and lover of all things over-sized, Heston Blumenthal took over a little village nearby called Bray – in a culinary sense of course. Bray is where Fat Duck is situated and it’s also where he owns two pubs The Hinds Head and The Crown. The Hinds Head is a Michelin-starred pub, The Crown is not. But as a last minute dinner idea on a hot and steamy Thursday night, we figured The Crown was probably our best bet. With the boys far away at Nana’s house, AT and I drove into Bray to try out the pub I’d been curious about since I worked at The Maidenhead Advertiser. The food, in confirmation with my research, was quite well-priced and as we later discovered, on par price-wise, with the average fare on offer in most London pubs. I guess there are some advantages to being out in the suburbs. The Crown is reportedly the place where Charles II used to sneak in for a pint when he was in town visiting his famous bit-on-the-side, Nell Gwynn.
Even though we were early, we still only just managed to snag ourselves a table, because while the pub was more or less empty, all the tables had been booked. AT ordered an appetiser of chicken liver parfait and brioche and I opted for dessert instead, but we both went straight for the mussels and chips for our mains. The mussels were piled high on an enormous deep-dish plate and served with a light sauce and granny smith apple pieces. I was doubtful this combination would work but it did and they were delicious. The chips were excellent and the parfait was lovely. I ordered Trinity Cream for pudding which was basically creme brulee made with orange blossom water and it was perfect; light, creamy and slightly bitter from the caramel. Aside from the heat and humidity bearing down on us, it was a lovely evening. The service was excellent and it was a really cosy pub – ideal for a winter pint by the fireside. With no shortage of men in colourful trousers and show-dogs wandering around, the clientele is what one would expect in a village that has claimed Best Small Village at the Britain in Bloom competition several years running. I look forward to shifting into the next gear and trying The Hinds Head; the next time the boys are out of town, of course.