Meal at The Hinds Head

Meal at The Hinds Head

at Hinds Head on 1 July 2017
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My third visit to this Michelin starred pub that has now completed its complete refurbishment with the downstairs remaining largely unchanged save for tables being placed all around the bar, bonquets and windows for the adjoining downstairs Annex but the upstairs has been redesigned and now looks utterly superb and unique.  I’m afraid you will just have to enjoy going there to see why, but the photos should give you a good idea.  Service was top notch this time round and the food was entirely pleasing.  Not as amazing as previous expriences on the food front but this is still a stand out Michelin starred pub in one of the country’s most charming villages, populated perhaps by the nation’s wealthiest pensioners.

The lunch menu for the Saturday visited consisted of a 4 course option for £48 or 6 courses for £58 – thereby making the 6 courses better value (and very often when you opt for the full ‘smack’ there are usually a surpise or two).  It was also a way of guaranteeing that the mini scotch eggs would be gained and this is lovely to do and the pea soup was a super hot and refreshing opener.

The lunch menu for the Saturday visited consisted of a 4 course option for £48 or 6 courses for £58 – thereby making the 6 courses better value (and very often when you opt for the full ‘smack’ there are usually a surpise or two).  It was also a way of guaranteeing that the mini scotch eggs would be gained and this is lovely to do and the pea soup was a super hot and refreshing opener.

For the remaining elements of the menus there was a consistent level of satisfaction across the board for al 4 diners with no one dish that stood out as the absolute superstar but all providing pleasure.  The crispy pork cracker to go with the main of pork stands for me on this visit as the higher moment with the tomato salad being surprisingly plain and too simple.   The lone carrot with the beef woudl have been more suspect if it wasn’t pickled to near perfection and the jus with the beef being quality.

Other than that, the other main buz came from being in one of the nicest pubs in the country for lunch and although the staff needed a couple of gentle prods for the basics on occasion, they were all extremely accommodating and warm.  The village of Bray in my book is one of the gems of the country and although it was an absolute nightmare to get there out of London on this occasion, it was still very worth the trip in all senses and always lovely for a stroll around the village by the river.

The fact it is smaller means it is far more doable as big scotch eggs can be frankly too much, but this was a few bites only with perfectly runny yolk yet crunchy, salted breadcrumbs, wonderful sausage meat and with a subtle mustard mayonnaise to dip in to.  Frankly glorious.

The beef dish was the main dish that was sent to Major Tim Peake having been painstakingly designed by Heston Blumenthal to get through the UK, Euro and NASA space agencies to be then sent up in a vacumed can and I have to say, having had from the plate, this was magnificent, no question.  The mashed potato was beautifully creamy, the shallots and carrots beautifully pickled to just the right amount to slice through the rich, truffled sauce which (was also superb), served with crackling for texture and oyster leaves for an element of surf’n’turf.  Actually, the latter was the only element I thought could have benfitted from being toned down slightly as just a tiny bit of the oyster leaf was enough to give a sizeable waft of the sea, but absolutley not a show stopper.  This was essentially the best beef with ‘mash and gravy’ dish I’ve ever had and was absolutely knock out.

The dessert was the only thing I was only luke warm on – the treacle ice cream was definitely lovely and original and that definitely good, but with just a little too much zing from the grapefruit and other citrus elements on the quite thick biscuit.  But all in all it was unique, well made and certainly fresh as was its purpose.  On completion of this meal what I was able to do this time was have a quick peek upstairs to find another two dining rooms which were completely reset from the lunch service and another private dining room at the far end which resembled more of a banquet room fit for a king and queen hosting a dinner in a lovely setting.

Overall this was a lovely menu to have and worth the journey but more importantly confirms to me that Heston Blumenthal really does keep the most important thing of the food tasting nice as the main effort from his overall intent and I absolutely loved his beef dish which, I’m fairly sure Maj Peake will have very much enjoyed from the entire concept of operation right through to its execution.

I should also say that the macaroni cheese was the best version I have ever had here.  Again, Heston Blumenthal seems to avoid an amuse bouche just as with Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental and due to the demand, the old stables have been converted in to the extended dining room to cope.  But the result feels a little like herding as many tables for two and three in a space as possible for cramming in rather than making the design truly special for the diner.  In summary, if you can spare the time to make a visit it’s absolutely worth it and if you are passing close by, it is a no brainer to make a long-shot enquiry to see if they can squeeze you in (however unlikely).  Simply gorgeous food.

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8 / 10

The Hinds Head pub

Upstairs (1)

Upstairs (2)

Upstairs (3)

Private dining room (upstairs)

Lunch menu – Sat 1 Jul 17

Quail scotch egg with mustard mayonnaise

Quail scotch egg off pea and ham soup

Cod Brandade with smoked cod row, pickled lemon and borage

Heritage tomato salad with ewes milk yoghurt, cévennes onion and basil oil

Seared scallop with artichoke, hazelnuts and smoked bacon velouté

Cornish beef fillet with Jersey royals and sauce colbert

Jersey royals

Grilled Iberico pork loin with spring greens, great onion and gherkin (as served)

Triple cooked chips – the original

Grilled Iberico pork loin with spring greens, great onion and gherkin (underside with cracker to the side)

Strawberry tart with pistachio, vanilla custard and elderflower sorbet

Raspberry cheesecake with biscuit ice cream

Treacle tart ice cream

Chocolate ganache petit fours

Home made breads

Pea, ham and mint soup with quail scotch egg

Quail scotch egg with mustard moyannaise dip

Beef tenderloin with creamed mash, truffled sauce, pickled vegetables, crackling and oyster leaves

Treacle ice cream

Upstairs of Hinds Head (1)

Upstairs of Hinds Head (2)

The bill for 2

Scotch egg

Scotch (quail) egg inside

With gluten free bread

Beef gazpacho

Mackerel

Salmon

Macaroni chesse

Steak

Victoria sandwich

Petits fours