Nestled at the heart of the picturesque village of Bray, The Hinds Head is located just 5 minutes from Maidenhead in Berkshire. Blessed with sunshine, we made the trip outside of London to begin our countryside adventure.
Chef Heston Blumenthal purchased the pub in October 2004 and has kept the overall decor of the pub relatively the same, feeling that the tradition and history should remain with the thought “if it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it”.
The Hinds Head was built in the 15th century and was initially used as two cottages, before being converted into an inn at the beginning of the 19th Century. Her Majesty The Queen herself has entertained at The Hinds Head when on April 23rd 1963, she hosted a luncheon for 51 guests including Prince Philip, Princess Anne, King Olaf of Norway and other royals and dignitaries.
When Heston took ownership, it opened to great critical acclaim and was immediately awarded a Bib Gourmand by The Michelin Guide. Many accolades followed including “Pub of the Year” by the Michelin Eating Out Pubs Guide and in 2012, it was awarded a coveted Michelin star.
The menu keeps with the historic aspect and takes inspiration from traditional British food, adapted to ensure that today’s palates are reflected in the dishes being served. Heston Blumenthal has worked closely with the Tudor kitchen at Hampton Court Palace in a bid to re-introduce historic British dishes like Hash of Snails, Oxtail and Kidney Pudding made with real suet pastry and the dessert, Wassailing.
We started our culinary journey with some delicious cocktails at the bar. The list is extensive and the cocktail menu includes concoctions like the Charles Dickens, developed by The Hinds Head, and pays homage to classics such as the Rusty Nail, 1891 Martini and Negroni. Normally we’re a little cynical about ordering cocktails at a pub, but our French pine-apple (deliciously tangy with sherbert garnished around the top of the glass that melts in your mouth as you sip the champagne) and a negroni (classic) did not disappoint and so we continued with another round with the savoury raspberry (this is a result of creative concoctions – the others are Grapefruit Tea and Strawberry Drupe – that came from a partnership between the bar staff working closely with Head Chef Janos Veres and his team) and a classic champagne cocktail.
After cocktails we settle into the dining area which is quaint and exactly how we picture the perfect country pub setting to be – cosy and comfortable with warm, welcoming touches. We immediately order the world famous scotch eggs which were out of this world and totally deserved their awards plus yummy devils on horseback (dates wrapped in bacon). Snacks done we nibble delicious sourdough bread with salted butter (simple pleasures) and ask our lovely waitress Gloria for her food recommendations; for starters we go for the Venison Carpaccio Horseradish, Turnip, Shallot and Caper Dressing and Powdered Duck Ham, Soft Cooked Quail Egg, Salad, both are flavoursome with a richness from the meat and a crunchy texture from the salad and garnishes – so far so good, great start to our meal.
We order the 10oz Ribeye of Hereford Prime upon recommendation from Gloria who told us “it’s the juiciest steak you’ll taste” and she was not wrong. It was immense and the bone marrow sauce gave it a richness that we don’t usually expect from our steak. The Breast of Pigeon, Braised Leg, Celeriac, Hazelnuts, Dates* was not what we expected as part of it came as a crispy samosa – still it was a pleasant surprise and really complemented the other eclectic flavours and textures on the plate.
Having had pure comfort food that was deliciously rich and filling we decided to share a dessert and chose the warm chocolate pudding with marmalade ice cream and some dessert wine. Boy was this dish heavenly – the chocolate and orange were pure indulgence and the hot and cold combination intensely enjoyable.
Dessert done, we seriously had trouble moving, our legs could barely carry us out of this joint, a true testament to a thoroughly enjoyable evening – we definitely plan on making a few more trips to Bray this summer with loose fitted clothing (lesson learnt).
Restaurant – Monday to Saturday: 12.0pm – 2.30pm, 6.15pm – 9.30pm, Sunday: 12.00pm – 4.00pm
Bar – Monday: 12.00pm – 11.00pm, Tuesday to Saturday: 11.30am – 11.00pm, Sunday: 12.00pm – 6.30pm