The Hind’s Head has a legacy that goes back further than the United States of America, and has served a host of royals, aristocrats and political rebels in its four hundred years of history.
Prince Phillip held his bachelor party here in 1947 before marrying the future Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Diana is said to have brought her sons for hearty pub lunches during their Eton days.
Pair this heritage with Heston Blumenthal’s modern culinary genius and love of traditional British gastronomy, and something spectacular is made. More cosy than Dinner in Knightsbridge, less ostentatious and far less expensive than the Fat Duck (which is just a thirty second walk down the road), the Hind’s Head may be Blumenthal’s best-kept secret.
With tiny wooden doorways, old beams and roaring open fires, the Hind’s Head is as quintessentially English as can be. They describe themselves as a restaurant, but it’s the village pub atmosphere that makes it stand out from being just another one-Michelin-starred restaurant. Don’t expect ruddy-faced farmer folk to be chugging a pint at the bar, though: The Hind’s Head clientele are a discerning lot, and the car park is filled with Aston Martins and Porsches.
On the surface, it’s traditional, familiar pub food cooked to perfection. Look closer and you’ll find that each seemingly simple dish is the result of many months of archive digging and technical development led by head chef Janos Veres (and his sous chef). Jonny Lake, head chef at The Fat Duck, also has considerable input, meaning that every item on the menu tells a story, and some recipes are as ancient as the pub itself.
Be sure to order a scotch egg before doing anything else: they’re quails eggs with runny yolks and they’re among the best we’ve ever tasted. The Hind’s Head hearty classics are perfect on a cold, wintery day: the venison carpaccio is exquisite, the chicken, ham & leek pie is wonderfully comforting, and the oxtail and kidney pudding is something of a legend. Pumpkin and orange crumble for dessert is another must. The menu is meat and game orientated, but they do have vegetarian options available too.
As you would expect, an excellent wine list accompanies the menu, and staff are adept at selecting a suitable match for every dish. For something a bit more interesting, they also have an excellent selection of speciality ales, and a creative cocktail menu.
A generous three-course lunch with wine will set you back around £70 per head. If you don’t feel like a full feast though, pop in for a drink and try one of their legendary scotch eggs at the bar.
A cosy Sunday lunch and plenty of ale on a frosty winter’s day. Pop in after a walk in the idyllic countryside, and be sure to request a seat by the one of the fireplaces to warm your toes. Just thirty miles down the road from central London, Bray is an easy jaunt from the city when you’re in need of some countryside air.
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