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The Hinds Head in Bray

Rating: 89.
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In October 2012 Heston Blumenthal's pub The Hinds Head was awarded a Michelin star in the 2013 Great Britain & Ireland guide, taking the number of Michelin stars in the village of Bray to 7 (The Fat Duck and Michel Roux's The Waterside inn each have 3 Michelin stars). The village of Bray has around 4,600 inhabitants and with its 7 Michelin stars Bray has confirmed its rightful place in a very exclusive group of star-studded villages. Another well-known multi-starred village is Yountville in the USA (5 stars, 2,957 inhabitants) but the champion in this category must be Courchevel in France (10 stars, 1,967 inhabitants).

The Hinds Head, located in a 15-century grade II listed building on Bray's High Street, was purchased by Heston Blumenthal in 2004, the same year The Fat Duck was awarded its third Michelin star. Head chef of the Hinds Head is Kevin Love, who has previously worked with the late Santi Santamaria (Can Fabes) in Spain and Gordon Ramsay (Claridge's and Royal Hospital Road) in London. 

The restaurant is open for lunch seven days a week and for dinner from Monday till Saturday. The restaurant offers an a la carte menu, a group tasting menu (for groups of 13 or more) and there's a separate Children's menu. Occasionally the restaurant will have a tasting menu on offer, e.g. for Christmas or for Valentines Day. I had lunch at the Hinds Head with my husband on Saturday 15 December 2012 and I chose dishes from the a la carte menu.

With our aperitifs (I had a Heston's G&Tea) we shared some appetizers: Devils on Horseback, lovely juicy dates wrapped in salty crisp bacon and a Scotch egg, not the prettiest Scotch egg I have ever had, the inside should have been more compact, but delicious all the same and it was served with a nice sharp mustard dip. 

As a starter I had the Soused Mackerel with pickled lemon and horseradish. Four mackerel fillets served with thinly sliced pickled lemon, horseradish cream and some lovely crunchy and very flavoursome peashoots. The sousing had given the mackerel a nice firm texture but it was lovely and moist at the same time. A well-balanced dish with good flavours and textures, the bitter-sweet lemon providing the right tang against the richness of the mackerel.

My main course was Seabream, crushed Jerusalem artichokes, shrimp and tarragon butter sauce. Beautifully cooked tender and moist seabream with a very tasty crispy skin. Underneath the seabream was a helping of gorgeously rich and caramelised crushed Jerusalem artichokes that combined deliciously with the seabream. The shrimp and tarragon butter sauce was had a wonderful richmess and it had nice little sharp notes. The tarragon flavours however were too subtle for my taste. A well-executed main course with bags of flavour. With this main I had ordered a salad of baby spinach, pine nuts, 'Lords of the Hundreds' cheese and an anchovy dressing and of course Heston's famous triple-cooked chips.

For dessert I had Mulled chocolate wine 'slush' with Millionaires' shortbread. This dessert came with a brief description of the history of the mulled chocolate wine slush (see below). A delicious and refreshing 'slush', light chocolate flavours and the mulled wine added a touch of warmth; very elegant. The Millionaires' shortbread was just as you would want it to be: buttery and crumbly shortbread, a layer of lightly salted caramel and a thin layer of glossy dark chocolate.

The menu at The Hinds Head is full of traditional British dishes, some more simple and rustic than others. Some have an eccentric touch but invariably they are flavoursome and skillfully cooked. The menu has "Heston Blumenthal" written all over it but the food still manages to be proper pub food. It is distinctive but avoids going over the top. Service is attentive, they are knowledgeable about wine, it sometimes verges on being restauranty but The Hinds Head manages to strike an excellent balance and still firmly remains a pub. If I imagine "Heston in a pub" this is just about what it would be like and the Hinds Head delivers precisely that.

Hinds Head on Urbanspoon

Posted 29-01-2013

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