The Crown at Bray
Bray, SL6 2AH
Tel. 01628 621936
Food type: British
Website: The Crown at Bray
When it was announced that Heston would be taking over the Crown, it was met with some degree of resistance by the local community as this was he last remaining standalone boozer in the village. The fear was that the boozer would be converted to yet another gastropub serving food which would be unrecognisable to the locals. Furthermore, Heston already owns a gastropub some 50 yards down the road (the Hind’s Head) serving his modern reinterpretation of classic English dishes.
Thankfully, the menu keeps it simple with easily recognised classics such as Fish and Chips, Burgers, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Eton Mess on the menu. Where at the Hind’s Head, the signature Heston tricks such as dried ice is in full flow, the Crown focuses on executing the classics well. For those who have seen his TV series “In Search of Perfection” you will appreciate the amount of work put into these dishes.
To start you may want to opt for a simple crab on toast featuring sweet hand-picked crab meat on top of a toasted sourdough bread. What makes this dish stand out however is the umami hit you get from the layer of crab biscuit (a long time Heston favourite) which gives the dish a huge flavour boost.
For mains, the no brainer option would be their signature Hamburger featured on the aforementioned TV series. By taking care in how the mince is aligned, they have created a burger patty which is superior to what you will have tasted before. Dressing the burger is their own special sauce which is probably Heston’s cheeky nod to a Big Mac, but one amped up on steroids. On the side, are some triple cooked chips which are as perfect an example of what chips should be.
There are plenty of appealing options for desserts but the one I was most looking forward to was of course their signature Banana Eton Mess. Here a little lime zest adds a refreshing twist to this well-known classic with some little honey comb providing additional crunch and sweetness.
The Crown is meant to be the more casual of Heston’s gastro pubs and it achieves it’s purpose. The cooking here is not as refined or indeed as exciting as at the Hind’s Head – nor is it meant to be. If you are looking for simple pub grub done well, then you could do worse than giving the Crown a go.