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Off the Beaten Path

The haute English pub

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The Hinds Head, in the picturesque Thames village of Bray, is the latest venture of Michelin three-star chef and leading practitioner of molecular gastronomy Heston Blumenthal. Anyone expecting the palate-challenging combinations of Blumenthal's Fat Duck next door, however, will probably be disappointed—but only momentarily. The Hinds Head is a traditional pub serving something rarer than cutting-edge cuisine: traditional pub food. Potted shrimp, pickled herring, pea-and-ham soup, steak-and-kidney pudding, Lancashire hot pot, Eton mess, and treacle tart—the food here is almost as old-fashioned as the gleaming oak-paneled interior (the building dates back to 1690). But it is unlikely these plates were ever so beautifully prepared. Blumenthal has meticulously researched the origins of the dishes, even re-creating some, such as quaking pudding, that haven't put in a regular appearance on British tables in 500 years. If a wobbling triple-cream custard proves too rich, you can always stick to the well-kept beer. The Hinds Head is a pub, after all. Dinner, $100. $ At High St., Bray, Berkshire; 44-1628/626-151.



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