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The Hinds Head

Muddy says: Swap poncey for a cool, quirky dining experience that works for all the family. It can only be the HInd’s Head in Bray.

It’s all change at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred Hind’s Head in Bray. Not only has this historic Tudor building undergone a spectacular refurbishment, there has also been a change of tack with the menus.

Reflecting its hunting lodge and coaching inn past, the vibe is quirky with a nod to the many royal connections. Upstairs is now The Royal Lounge – essentially a cocktail bar, with tweed and velvet furnishings, taxidermy and dim lighting. Think cool gentlemen’s club without the overflowing testosterone.

You’ll also find the dramatic private dining room on this floor – The Vicar’s Room, painted deep red with teasing, tongue-in-cheek references to the building’s association with Simon Aleyn, the infamous Vicar of Bray. A dining table created from a single trunk of oak dominates the room, under a pair of parlour chandeliers depicting the heads of Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I when the origins of The Hind’s Head were first documented. If you’re a big group book in, no room hire, no minimum spend, but a really special place to dine.

Regular diners drift downstairs after a couple of craft beers to enjoy the eclectic British style of cooking. It’s relaxed – no crisp white linens – but the staff are attentive (you don’t get a Michelin star without top notch service). The Hind’s Head’s new thing is to focus on set menus: the 3-course Mary Menu (available midweek) £25; the 6-course Elizabeth Menu (everyday for dinner and weekends for lunch) and the 4-course Aleyn Menu £45.

Oh, and the brilliant bit is there’s a kids and Sunday lunch menu available too. So you can enjoy a special family meal without having a ‘my kids only eat fish fingers’ panic.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Bucks & Oxon