Sunday, July 11, 2010

Real Food

Molecular Gastronomy is something in which I have very little interest. I don't want essence of unsprouted parsnips wafted toward me as a first course; I don't want duck served to me in pellet form; I don't find the idea of granita, mousse, or anything "popsicled" outside the dessert tray in anyway appealing; call me pedestrian, I don't care, I like to chew my food. Which is why we had lunch today at The Hinds Head pub in the village of Bray, and not at The Fat Duck Restaurant next door. The chef-owner is the same for both; the food couldn't be more different. Here are some offerings on today's menu at The Fat Duck: Nitro Poached Green Tea and Lime
Mousse, Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream, Chicken Liver Parfait, Snail Porridge, Salmon Poached in Licorice, and Blood Pudding with Confit of Umbles. I have no idea what an umble is, but if I did, I'd probably want them straight-up grilled with a side of mayo. Conversely, the menu at the Hinds Head included Highland Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Braised Pork Shoulder with Crackling and Roasted Potatoes, a Venison Burger, and several other, toothsome options. I had the grilled hake with mashed potatoes, bacon, and peas; Peter had the poached cod on a bed of crab and lemon; side of french fries; and a pickled lemon salad with fresh herbs to start. Dessert was a cherry tart with yogurt ice cream.

Bray is a tiny village outside the town of Maidenhead; Maidenhead is a 30-minute train ride from London. I had read about both restaurants, made the obvious choice between the two, and Peter and I set off late-morning on the train. From Maidenhead we walked down the road about half an hour to Bray, where there is nothing much besides some picturesque homes and the two restaurants. After lunch we asked our waitress if there was anything to see in Bray or any shops to look in, she smiled and said "no." The service in the pub was excellent, the food was lovely, and we left stuffed full of food, as opposed to pheasant-flavored helium, or whatever they were serving next door.

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