12:00PM, Tuesday 09 May 2017
Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred restaurant has recently undergone a £350,000 refurbishment and big changes include a new cocktail lounge and the introduction of a set menu.
The Hind’s Head in Bray has gone back to its roots with a new cocktail lounge, named the Royal Lounge and themed around a hunting lodge, with taxidermy decor, and hunting rifle chandeliers.
“Looking at the history of the building, it’s been a lot of different things over the years, but the designer really concentrated on the hunting lodge, and playing on that.” said Jonny Lake, executive chef of The Fat Duck Group.
“It’s such a big building we wanted to take the best bits of it, and work on the worse bits.”
The Hind’s Head, which was taken over by Blumenthal in 2004, is yards away from his three Michelin star restaurant The Fat Duck and his pub The Crown.
Jonny said: “We found in the Hind’s Head, that the demand for beer was going down and wine and drinks were going up, and that was reversed at The Crown.
“The Crown has always been more of a pub and this is a restaurant so we wanted to make the most of the strengths of each place.”
The restaurant, which was upstairs, has now relocated to downstairs.
Three set menus, which are set to change every month, will be served in the restaurant and vary between three (Mary), four (Aleyn) and six courses (Elizabeth).
When discussing why more restaurants are introducing set menus, Jonny said: “For us, it’s a much more modern approach to running a restaurant, its something we’re seeing much more now in restaurants and people are getting more and more used to it.
“By running it this way, we can change the menu completely every month. A monthly menu change when you’re running a big a la carte menu with six starters, six mains and six desserts, to change that every week is huge, but this way we can change things to give people more of a reason to come back.”
Lastly the private dining room, located upstairs, and now called The Vicar’s Room, has been inspired by the Vicar of Bray.
The large table, which seats between ten and 18 guests, is one large piece of oak which was inscribed, and had to be cut into two pieces to fit inside the room.
Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary sit between the table.
Jonny said an advantage to The Fat Duck Group owning three establishments in one village, is that each place can offer support.
He said: “Because we are a group were able to do things in these places, where if they were standalone we wouldn’t be able to do.
If we were standalone we wouldn’t’ have the benefit and support of a development kitchen that can help them on specific projects.
“When we took over this building, it wasn’t a case of Heston saying, we’re really looking for a pub, it was just at the time it was opportunistic and an outlet for his interests in historic British food.
“There’s never been a plan, 'let's dominate Bray', it just came up at opportune times.”
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