Tel. 01628 822 877
Food type: British Gastropub
Nearest tube: –
Website: the Beehive
Dominic Chapman’s Beehive is one of my regular haunts. Its close proximity to where I live, combined with an excellent, well written menu with plenty of options of food you would want to eat (rather than the latest trend of having food which is designed for Instagram) and pricing which is sensible has won many locals over. Although it has been opened for quite some time, the restaurant has yet to gain a Michelin star, an accolade that Dom had previously held when he was cooking at the Royal Oak which is incidentally down the road. It may be that he has a relatively young team in his kitchen and occasionally do struggle with consistency when he is not around cooking. I managed to speak with Dom on one of our visits and he comes off as a very pleasant and humble chap who is very passionate about his produce and cooking. He also mentioned that he has also decided to take a break from Great British Menu this year to continue to develop his kitchen.
On every visit, we have always started with some snacks which will of course include his signature scotch egg. I don’t think many other pubs in England have managed to nail down the humble scotch egg as perfectly as they have here at the Beehive with a runny yolk and pork mince which is still moist. Another favourite of mine (but sadly not my wife) is the rollmops which are simply spot on – the herrings have a nice balance of acidity from the pickling to balance out its oiliness and remains really juicy.
If it is your first time at the Beehive, then Dom’s signature rabbit lasagna is a must try. This is a dish which he created when he was at Royal Oak and has made the safe transition over. Thin sheets of pasta are draped over a cylinder of slow cooked rabbit meat. You know the dish is going to be good when the pasta is so thin you can see the meat sitting underneath. Wild rabbit is used here to give a subtle gamey flavour and it also holds its texture better after a slow braise. A light cream sauce helps add richness and lusciousness to the dish and a few wood blewits gives another earthy dimension.
There are of course specials when ever we visit and one of my favourites is a seasonal surf clam and chorizo spaghetti dish. When I see this on the menu, I am sure to order an extra large portion as a starter. What is a deceptively simple dish is highlighted by the use of ingredients in its prime – sweet peas and wild garlic which help lift what would otherwise be a regular Monday night meal at home. There was also a lot of care put into the preparation and cooking of the clams with not a hint of grit or chewiness with them. A simple dish this may be, but when I tried to recreate it at home I just could not achieve the balance in textures and flavours that they have here.
For mains, if you fancy fish, they do serve an excellent turbot dish here with plenty of spring greens and a classic beurre blanc sauce. Seriously, beurre blanc! When was the last time you saw that on the menu? Nowadays most of the new restaurants in London (and around the world) are too busy trying to serve the most unappetising sauces to go with fish. Heck I have been served monkfish with chocolate sauce not so very long ago… It is a relieve to see something so classical that you know will work. What is there not to like with a nicely cooked piece of fish with a well made sauce which had a lovely acidity going through it.
Of course, there is also Dom’s signature pies and currently on the menu is a simple chicken, ham and leek pie which is presented in all its naked glory with a beautiful, burnished crust. The filling is rich, flavoursome and just warms the cockles of your heart. They once sold out of pies on one of my visits! Thankfully we managed to get the last portion. The pie comes with a side of mash potatoes which have been made the proper way – properly whipped with plenty of elbow grease to emulsify the fat so that the mash is smooth and creamy without any lumps in sight.
For puddings, although there is Dom’s signature trifle (the flavours varying with the seasons) and rice pudding, the killer dish for me at the moment is the scout’s chocolate fondant served with a pistachio ice cream. I must admit that I am not a fan of rich chocolate desserts at the end of a heavy meal but the chocolate fondant here is so well made that I have returned just to eat it again. What makes it so special is the fact the chocolate fondant is so light, almost sponge-like in texture, to go with the rich, gooey chocolate centre. Also the pub will donate 50p for every fondant they sell to the Holyport scout hut fund which is a nice touch.
The Beehive is a pub that delivers no nonsense cooking in a casual relaxed environment. As an additional benefit, there is a cricket ground opposite which would serve as a lovely drinking and dining backdrop when the weather is good. The restaurant has all the makings for success and with a little more consistency with its cooking, the restaurant is well on its way to achieving a Michelin star.