The Hind’s Head
Bray, SL6 2AB
Tel. 01628 616151
Food type: British
Website: Hind’s Head
“Are you a chef?”
That was what the maitre’d asked me at the end of my lunch at the Hind’s Head. By the end of my meal here, I had eaten enough food to comfortably feed two people – such was my enjoyment of Heston’s food. He later went on to explain that it was usually visiting chefs who would try a wide variety of dishes on their quest to gain inspiration. And why wouldn’t they when the food here is cooked to such a consistently high level.
The menu here features what your usual suspects of British favourites. The evergreen bar snacks of scotched eggs (complete with a runny egg yolk centre) and devils on horsebacks are present along with other staples like pea and ham soup and steak and kidney pudding. Being a Heston Blumenthal restaurant, they also feature historical recipes such as Quaking Pudding updated for the modern-day palate. If there is one criticism it is there is very little change with the menu. Going through photos of my previous meal here some 5 years ago, the menu remains practically identical bar 2 or 3 changes.
Despite this being a humble gastro-pub, you will find all the little Heston touches from the get-go. Take for example their exclusive cocktails list. My server recommended me the Rum Old Fashioned – a concoction featuring three different rums which in itself was an excellent drink. However, with aid of some dry ice, a “demerara cloud” was poured into my glass – the effect was a sweet, malty mist which enhanced the cocktail. I couldn’t help but giggle!
What about the food? It was excellent. I have already mentioned the Scotch egg but just in case you missed it, I will mention it again. A small quail egg, with a runny yolk is encased with excellent, moist sausage meat before being covered with panko bread crumbs and deep-fried. It is accompanied by a light mustard mayonnaise. I would honestly be happy eaten 10 off these washed down by a couple of cocktails.
The star of the show was a Bone in Sirloin of Veal served with “sauce reform”. To achieve consistency, the veal is first cooked in a water bath before being finished on the grill. The result is meat which is perfectly pink and juicy and being lifted with the smokey hints of the grill. On top, were garnishes of veal tongue and panko breadcrumbs to add another dimension to the dish. Everything was tied together with the “sauce reform” which was equal parts acidic and umami.
Desserts are equally interesting with a Quaking Pudding, an old-fashioned version of a warm set custard. Think of it as a custard tart, without the pastry base. The dish even comes with a little card to explain the origins of the dish! On the side were a few slices of green apple – a sensible pairing to help cut through the richness of the warm custard.
I think it goes without saying that I really enjoyed my meal here. Every dish served was executed perfectly. It is just a shame that the menu here is not updated more frequently, otherwise I would come here a lot more often. However, if you are keen to see British Gastropub fare executed to a high level and have never visited the Hind’s Head, you should definitely make an effort to go!