the Crown at Burchetts Green, Maidenhead – One Man Band

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the Crown
Burchetts Green Road,
Maidenhead,
Berkshire, SL6 6QZ
Tel. 01628 824 079

Food type: British Gastropub

Nearest tube: N/A

Website: the Crown at Burchetts Green

I am embarrassed. That I live fairly close to Burchetts Green  (well 30 minutes drive) and yet I have never heard about the Crown or been to it. It was during a recent conversation with Andy that he mentioned this pub that I started doing a bit of research on it. Simon Bonwick cooks alone in his kitchen with front of house run by his family. He has an amazing CV having worked at some serious restaurants – Waterside Inn, Aubergine, Hand & Flowers and Les Pres de Eugenie (Michel Guerard). There is a theme here with the restaurants he has worked in solidly based on classical cooking. Do you even remember what that is these days? There was a time when meat was roasted a la minute with the skill of the chef determining the caisson and not simply setting the timer for the water bath.

Dining Room

Dining Room

The dining room is very cosy with low ceilings and wooden tables. French music was played in the background when we visited giving it a lovely Parisian bistro vibe. The menu is written on a black board as you enter but printed menus are also brought to the table. Prices are refreshingly very fair – starters are £6 to £10, mains £19 to £26 and desserts £7. Dishes come complete so there is no need for pesky side dishes to bulk up your dish. On average, you are looking at £35 for a 3 course meal here which is absurdly good value.

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the Royal Oak, Maidenhead – Six Game Chips

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The Royal Oak Paley Street
Littlefield Green,
Nr. Maidenhead,
Berkshire, SL6 3JN
Tel. 01628 620 541

Food type: British Gastropub

Nearest tube: N/A

Website: The Royal Oak Paley Street

I recently revisited Royal Oak, Paley Street without knowing that Michael Chapman had left. Michael was a very capable successor to Dominic Chapman (not related in the slightest) having been his right hand man at Royal Oak and although he adopted a slightly different style, the cooking was still top notch. It was only at a recent meal at the Beehive did I find out that Michael is now heading the kitchen at Hurley House (formerly Red Lion) which I am due to visit soon. He is replaced by James Bennett.

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Menu

Although I live fairly close to the Royal Oak, I don’t go there as much as I should. One of the reasons is their pricing which is slightly more expensive than neighbouring pubs like the Crown (at Burchett’s Green) and the aforementioned Beehive. I guess this is the Michelin star premium. Plus the restaurant still has to fund their dining room expansion. Admittedly they do have a cheap lunch menu (available Monday to Saturday) with essentially all the same dishes on the dinner a la carte priced at £30 for 3 courses which is exceptional value for the level of cooking on offer. There are a couple of dishes with supplements – £12 for a fillet steak. The restaurant pub, also has an exceptional wine list with verticals of Penfold Grange and grand Bordeauxs but mark-ups are London-esque (read: three times or more the market price).

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the Ledbury, London – Focus

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The Ledbury
127 Ledbury Road,
Ladbroke Grove
London, W11 2AQ
Tel: 020 7792 9090

Food type: Modern French/ European

Nearest tube: Westbourne Grove/ Notting Hill

Website: The Ledbury

My last meal at the Ledbury was back in January, the day after New Year’s Day to be exact. The kitchen was working on a limited menu and they were very upfront with the fact that this was because of restrictions to supplies at that time of the year. Nevertheless, it was a very solid meal and it was nice to see Brett cooking in his own kitchen during the holidays, a refreshing change in this day and age when many chefs are much more interested in showing up on TV than they are maintaining the high standards in their own kitchen. For this meal, Kang of Londoneater had kindly gone to the trouble of booking us a table which these days are booked solid two months in advance. You can read his take of our meal here.

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Restaurant Entrance

Gone are the days of individually priced items during lunch. These days the cheapest menu available for lunch is a 4 course set lunch menu priced at £50. Alternatively there is a pared down a la carte menu priced at £85 for 4 courses. This is essentially the same as the dinner a la carte menu except for a few choices omitted probably due to time constraints for mise en place. For the full Ledbury experience there is of course their full tasting menu at £115 for 8 courses. In our case, we left the menu in Brett’s hands and he was kind enough to throw in a few extras.

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Cambio De Tercio, London – Spanish Flair

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Cambio de Tercio
163 Old Brompton Rd
London, SW5 OLJ
Tel. 020 7244 8970

Food type: Spanish

Nearest tube: Gloucester Road/ South Kensington

Website: Cambio de Tercio

It has been a while since I last visited Cambio de Tercio. For me, they produce some of the best modern Spanish tapas in London. Easily as good, if not better than the Barrafina chains. Yet for some reason, Michelin have continued to ignore them and yet have seen fit to award stars to Barrafina (why?) and Ametsa. Since my last visit, the restaurant has undergone a renovation and expanded next door, taking over the wine shop. Good news since it was pretty hard to get a table without having to book in advance.

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Ultra Smooth ‘4 hours’ Baked Vanilla Custard

Anyways, the decision to have a nice long Sunday lunch here was necessitated by a last minute cancellation by another restaurant. I had booked to dine at Takahashi for lunch but at the 11th hour, and I mean it literally since I received a phone call from the restaurant at 11:30 am, I was informed that they had to cancel our reservation since the restaurant had been flooded by the heavy rain and they had no electricity. By then we were on our way to London and after a quick search online for last minute tables, we ended up at Cambio.

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Hedone, London – Second Star Overdue

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Hedone
301-303 Chiswick High Road
London
W44HH
Tel. 020 8747 0377

Food type: Modern European

Nearest tube: Gunnersbury/ Chiswick Park

Website: Hedone

The last time I dined at Hedone, was back in April, when my sister and her husband were around in London to attend our wedding. It just goes to show that time does fly very quickly as it was only 5 months ago that my wife and I were all stressing over all the details of our wedding. Our last meal at Hedone was mind-blowing and when I had a Friday afternoon free, I jumped at the chance to pop in for a solo lunch here to try some more of Mikael’s cooking.

As mentioned previously, there is no real menu of sorts. You basically decide how many courses you would like and leave it to the chef to compose the flow of the menu. At lunch, there is a shorter menu priced at £45 but for the full experience, only the carte blanche menu (£125) would suffice. Mikael quickly checked what I had on my last visit to ensure I could try as many new dishes as possible. Hedone was also celebrating their 5th birthday and Aurelie brought me a complementary glass of champagne.

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