The word disappointing would be a polite word to describe our experience at The Crown. Owned by Heston Blumenthal it is the second pub he owns in the village of Bray in Berkshire.
The place is a cosy, candlelit quintessentially British pub. We arrived at 6:30 and sat a table right by the toilets – it went downhill from there.
We were left alone at our table for quite a while before we were given menus or asked if we wanted drinks. The staff consisted of an older lady who seemed in charge and then four young and inexperienced staff. Our waiter who seemed sweet but particularly shy and retiring barely said more than four words to us throughout the evening.
We ordered some bread and slightly salted butter (£2.50) to come before our starters. The starters took so long to arrive and came without any sign of the bread so we canceled it. The Coke I ordered twenty minutes earlier hadn’t materialised either.
My starter of pork pie and piccalilli (£6.50) was a generous wedge of pie and the tangy piccalilli worked perfectly with it but there was too much gelatine covering the pork giving it a fatty and greasy taste.
My gentleman companion’s soft boiled hens egg with cheese toastie (£6.50) was totally disappointing. With just a knife and fork he found it a little difficult to open the egg and fully eat the contents as the egg white (that was too undercooked) just fell through the fork. The ‘cheese toastie’ tasted like little slices of cardboard.
A whole hour later (we’d nearly passed out by this point) our main courses arrived. The restaurant is totally under-staffed and they are nowhere to be seen. At no point were we asked if we’d like more drinks. If I stood on my chair waving a flag and let off a distress flare I don’t think they’d have noticed me.
My macaroni cheese, pickled cauliflower and romanesque with rocket (£13.50) came out luke warm by which time I was so hungry I just woofed it down. It was tasty but the portion was tiny so I think a charge of £10 would have been fairer. I couldn’t taste or see any cauliflower either.
My gentleman companion’s baked suet, chicken, ham and mushroom pie with creamed potatoes (£14.75) was very pleasant but the potato was luke warm. At least the pie filling was hot and the pastry was thick and delicious.
I was still hungry but my gentleman companion couldn’t bear to stay any longer as by the time the bill was paid we had been there a whopping two hours. For a two course pub dinner that is ridiculous.
If we were a little braver and didn’t think our waiter would cry, we would have asked for the service charge to be removed, as there wasn’t any service. What’s more irritating is I don’t think any of the staff were even aware we had been sitting there for so long and been left without drinks etc. The older waitress was too busy shmoozing the regulars and making sure they were happy as that is obviously their main source of income.
If you’re in Bray and want an affordable Heston pub experience, go for dinner at the Hinds Head which is far superior.