The previous reviewer did not know if the Crown served food. Well it certainly does and it is really good. It is also good value for money.
Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is their Moules Mariniere. Every time we visit the UK we manage to visit the Crown.
We went to the Hinds Head for Sunday lunch, taking some family from Australia who wanted a 'Heston Experience' without the Fat Duck price tag. Ok, we weren't expecting molecular gastronomy - the Hinds Head is just a pub after all, but we were expecting an enjoyable drive in the countryside and, based on all of the rave reviews, a pretty decent lunch. At least the drive was nice.
First impressions were good, as we excitedly entered the cosy pub, loving the traditional décor and atmosphere. We were lead upstairs to our table, which seemed to be one of the poorer located tables in the place, complete with air conditioning vent blasting cold air onto us. To add to the chill was the icy service - our young waitress was way too laid back and looked and acted like it was the last place she wanted to be. It was the least amiable service I have had in a long time. Her bad mood continued throughout our meal.
Favorite Dish: Speaking of the meal, it was enjoyable enough, but not memorable. We started with some Homemade Scotch Quail Eggs; some Devils on Horseback; and a couple of serves of Pea and Ham Soup. The soup was pretty delicious actually, probably the highlight of our meal.
We then moved on to the Rabbit and Bacon Terrine with Cucumber Pickles; the 8oz Rump Steak with Bone Marrow Sauce and Triple Cooked Chips; and the Oxtail & Kidney Pudding. We ordered an extra serve of the Triple Cooked chips to make sure we could all indulge, though they weren't that popular at our table and we didn't finish them - unheard of! For dessert we shared a slice of Chocolate Tart with vanilla ice cream which went down fine. The truffles that came with coffee were nice.
The poor service really put a dampener on our experience and I doubt we will return. Although the food was good, several pubs closer to home have offered us a much better all-round experience.
A visit from my lovely sister Alison was all the incentive we needed to arrange lunch at The Fat Duck, currently rated as the 2nd best restaurant in the world! It is located in a small village called Bray, about 40 minutes by train from Central London - a bit of a hike, but worth it to experience the "molecular gastronomy" created by this unassuming looking restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.
This is a hard restaurant to get a table at, it took me a couple of days to get through on the reservation phone line. Reservations are taken up to two months in advance, but good luck trying to get a table on a weekend! I booked about 6 weeks in advance for a Friday lunch. The restaurant is quite unimposing from the outside, we walked past it once or twice whilst looking for it. The inside is simple, with well lit modern art. Nothing too flashy.
Not just a lunch, more like a half day event, our meal took close to 5 hours to complete! We had the Tasting Menu, which consisted of course after course of amazingly created and presented food. We were all very full by the end of the 18 or so courses!! Alex had the matched wines (selected by the sommelier) while Alison and I stuck to just a couple of glasses of wine with our meal.
Everything was branded with 'The Fat Duck', from the little cereal box that the Parsnip chip 'cereal' came in, to the 'Fat Duck Films' container containing the small piece of truffle infused rice paper.
I must admit that some of the food wasn't to my taste. But it wasn't really about the food, it was about being immersed in the surreal experience that is a meal at The Fat Duck. It is more like an extravaganza than a meal.
The waiting staff move about the restaurant as if they have been choreographed. Some courses are prepared at the table, such as the Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream. Others trick your senses, like the Orange Jelly & Beetroot Jelly squares whose flavours are reversed.
Favorite Dish: Alex and Alison's favourite course was the Snail Porridge with Joselito ham, shaved fennel. It is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, and lived up to its reputation. My favourite was something a little bit more simple...or so it sounded. The Hot and Cold Tea looked plain enough, just a small glass of weak tea - but bizarrely, one side of the tea was hot and one side was cold, a very strange sensation when you drank it!
The Fat Duck Tasting Menu (with matched wines)
Nitro-Green Tea and Vodka Lime Mousse
Orange Jelly & Beetroot Jelly
Oyster, Passion Fruit Jelly, Lavender
Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream, Red Cabbage Gaspacho
Black truffle toast; Truffle film; Truffle and Oak Moss aroma with Jelly of Quail, Langoustine Cream, Parfait of Foie Gras
(Manzanilla En Rama, Barbadillo)
Snail Porridge, Joselito ham, shaved fennel
(Vin de Pays de Cotes Catalanes, Le Soula, G. Gauby, Roussillon 2004)
Roast Foie Gras, almond fluid gel, cherry and chamomile
(Vinoptima Gewurztraminer Reserve, Gisborne, New Zealand 2003)
Sardine on Toast Sorbet, ballotine of mackerel 'invertebrate', marinated daikon, sea salad
(Rashiku Ginjo-Sake, Yamatogawa)
Salmon Poached with liquorice, artichokes, pink grapefruit, 'Manni' olive oil
(Dao Tinta Reserva, Quinta Da Falorca , Dao Portugal 2001)
Poached Breast of Anjou Pigeon Pancetta, Pastilla of its leg, pistachio, cocoa, and quatre epices
(Barolo, Costa Grimaldi, Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Peidmont 1999)
Hot and Cold Tea
Mrs Marshall's Margaret Cornet
Pine Sherbet Fountain
Mango and Douglas Fir Puree, bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet and green peppercorn jelly
(Schneiderberger Riesling Eiswein, WeinViertel Austria 2003)
Carrot and Orange Tuile, Beetroot Jellies
Parsnip chip 'cereal' with parsnip milk
Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, Pain perdu and tea jelly
(NV, Buller, Fine Old Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria)
Whisky Wine Gum, Violet Tartlet, Pine chocolate & Mint chocolate
Basically a really friendly local pub,which does some excellent food.Now run by the same people who own the Fat Duck.Didn't eat here but the menu looking promising.
Built in 1690 and first known as Olive cottage.The next 2 cottages were added and knocked through to what you see today,giving it a quirky feel.Said to be haunted by the ghost of Emily who drowned nearby.Rooms available.
Haven't been in here for a while but it doesn't look much changed.
Nice to sit outside and enjoy the view.
Unsure if food is available.
Run by Heston Blumenthal,this restaurant looks pretty bland from the outside,unlike his renowned cooking inside.
Check the web site for availability etc.
Set on the banks of the river Thames in sleepy Bray village,this restaurant run by the Roux brothers is a favourite of the Queen.
Check their web site for prices and availability.