Heston Blumenthal’s establishment in Bray has become, not surprisingly, a gastronomic destination, yet the striking 15th-century building remains very much a village local. Its origins as a pub are a little obscure, but the bar’s atmosphere, created by beams and sturdy oak panelling, log fires, leather chairs, and Windsor & Eton seasonal ales, is reassuringly traditional. The main restaurant is on the ground floor, while upstairs are two further dining areas: the Vicar’s Room and the larger Royal Room. Having worked alongside the team in the Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace, Heston elaborates on original British cuisine, reintroducing classic recipes from the pub’s Tudor roots. Hash of snails; and terrine of pork and Cumbrian ham are indicative starters. Gutsy main courses vary from bone-in sirloin of veal or oxtail and kidney pudding to smoked pollock, cured salmon and prawn fish pie with ‘sea and sand’. For seekers of plainer fare there are 28-day aged Hereford prime steaks. Quaking pudding, inspired by a 17th-century sweet jelly recipe, is an ever-popular dessert favourite. There’s also a menu of favourite dishes from a quarter of a century of The Fat Duck, for example butternut squash bavarois with melon, chocolate and goats’ cheese ice cream.
Old-English fare with a modern twist
- Children welcome
- Free Wifi
- Closed: 2
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About The area
Berkshire essentially consists of two distinct parts. The western half is predominantly rural, with the Lambourn Downs spilling down to the River Lambourn and the Berkshire Downs to the majestic Thames. The eastern half of Berkshire may be more urban but here, too, there is the opportunity to get out and savour open spaces. Windsor Great Park and Maidenhead Thicket are prime examples. Threading their way through the county are two of the South’s prettiest rivers – the Lambourn and the Pang. Beyond the tranquil tow paths of the Kennet and Avon Canal, Greenham Common’s famous airbase has been transformed to delight walkers of all ages.
Reading and Newbury are the county’s major towns, and the River Kennet flows through them both. Reading is a vibrant, multicultural centre with great shopping and plenty of history. Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in Reading prison in the late 19th century, and wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol about his experience. Newbury is probably best known for its race course, which opened in 1905, although the first recorded racing at Newbury was a century before that. Famous people born in the county include Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Winlset and Ricky Gervais.
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