On a lovely summer’s day, sitting in the garden at The Crown at Bray sipping my Caribbean Rum Punch and Amit a Gin & Tonic, whilst a barbeque in the vicinity filled the air with a delicious smokey aroma, and families, couples and friends were catching up al fresco with laughter all around, there was honestly no place I would rather have been. Especially as it was the first time the British weather was behaving on a Bank holiday weekend and I was with my favourite person.
I had visited Bray last year and had loved the cute picturesque village, known for its famous eateries, many of which have Michelin Stars – a true food lovers paradise. I had noticed The Crown at Bray during our drive through Bray previously when we dined at a three michelin starred restaurant for Amit’s birthday, but this was my first time lunching at The Crown at Bray and I loved the casual and relaxed vibe, the gastropub menu and the friendly staff. I almost wished it was my local!
It is owned by world renowned chef Heston Blumenthal but is so different to his other restaurants and I love that it has maintained its local village pub feel and the menu is full of pub classics. Heston actually owns three restaurants in the area – The Fat Duck, which holds three michelin stars, and The Hind’s Head, which holds one michelin star, both of which are just up the road.
As we were blessed with superb weather, we enjoyed our starters outside in the sunshine making the most of the garden and I opted for a light and refreshing Tomato & Mozzarella Salad with Basil Oil, which was sublime. The perfect summer dish! What I loved was the generous portion as well as the addictive crispy onions on top.
Amit got a little nostalgic about holidays, as that was the type of chilled atmosphere at The Crown at Bray, and chose the Char-grilled Prawn Cocktail, which was gorgeous, having tried a little of it myself. It tasted so fresh!
The Garden menu was really simple, which I loved, and you could have burgers and hot dogs. I think I will definitely try the Hot Dog next time as it also looked so good from having food envy at a neighbouring table. There is even a children’s section on the menu making it the perfect place for families.
For our mains and dessert we moved to the Courtyard where we chose from the main Lunch menu. I had the Fish & Chips, served with crushed peas and homemade Tartar sauce. It was so crispy, the fish was cooked perfectly and the side of fries were to die for. Chunky chips just how I love them!
Amit decided on the Braised Pork Belly served with a Pea Mash, Crackling and a Roast Pork Sauce upon recommendation from the waiter and it was devoured pretty rapidly with a side of Braised Red Cabbage. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
We were already discussing what we would order when we would next be back again – testament to how good the food was!
Pudding menus are always the hardest choice for me especially when everything sounds dreamy. I normally would go for Sticky Toffee Pudding but I surprised myself by going for the Chocolate Parfait Honeycomb with Chocolate Oil.
It was incredible and that honeycomb was heavenly and had the perfect crunch. We both tucked in to the chocolate parfait with glee and it really was the perfect ending to a gorgeous meal at The Crown at Bray.
I loved the lunch menu served in the Courtyard as well as the Garden menu and just adore that the pub has maintained its character despite having a celebrity chef as the owner.
Cocktails at The Hind’s Head
After our lovely meal at The Crown at Bray, we strolled down the street to michelin starred gastropub, The Hind’s Head, where we sat upstairs in the beautiful Royal lounge area decked with quirky furniture and decor and stunning stained glass windows.
It was first established as a hunting lodge and coaching in and is quintessentially British from every aspect.
We had a cocktail each and sticking to the rum theme, I went for one of the Royal Signatures, the Spiced Rum, which was House spiced rum, amaretto, pineapple juice, mango juice and lime juice served with passion fruit, mint and tikki bitters. It was so refreshing and served in a long glass.
Amit chose a gin based drink, but also one of the signature cocktails – Emily’s Earl Grey Tea Sours. This was a blend of gin, lemon, tea bitters, earl grey tea syrup and a pimms float.
It was beautifully presented in a tea cup and garnished with edible flowers and it was almost heartbreaking to spoil its perfection by taking a sip! Amit really enjoyed it and he loves his gin cocktails, and I knew that this was up there with his idea of a decent gin cocktail.
The upstairs Royal Lounge was marvellous and I would love to come back with friends for drinks or even to try the food as I loved the ambience in the venue and the quirky decor.
We had a fabulous afternoon and it made total sense to combine the two together as they were in such close proximity to each other. Bray was only an hour’s drive from my house in North London and a lovely little village to escape to for lunch as well as to spend a leisurely afternoon. There are some places I would take a detour for and Bray is definitely one of those places.
I know I will definitely be back to try more of the superb sounding dishes on the menu at The Crown at Bray as well as the food menu at The Hinds Head and to enjoy those delicious cocktails.