Beaconsfield indie gem
Amongst Beaconsfield's chain restaurants sits No5, a friendly gastro gem with stylish industrial touches.
At the centre of Beaconsfield Old Town, No 5 London End is a proud independent brasserie in a street full of the usual high street names – Pizza Express, Loch Fine, Brasserie Blanc etc. Nothing wrong with them of course but it’s great to see an interesting alternative to the identikit offerings that are sadly often in every town. Beaconsfield, of course, is an attractive commuter belt market town in South Bucks, with wide high street and Georgian shop fronts with everything in the best possible taste, Just 5 minutes off the M40 (J2), Beaconsfield is also close to London – the capital is just 24 miles away. The Chiltern Line railway can get you there in around half an hour.
This place has a buzz. It may be because they’re busy (book two weeks in advance for Friday and Saturday nights as walk-ins will be disappointed) or it may be because they’ve just won a Michelin Plate Award for the food. It was busy on the Monday lunchtime I was there, mostly groups of women having a good catch-up. The main restaurant is downstairs where the light from the big Georgian windows streams onto the wooden tables and across the “Industrial luxe” exposed brick-work and wooden wall motifs.
Though it may be trendy, it still pulls off a relaxed and unpretentious feel, probably due to it’s friendly staff. Upstairs has recently been revamped as a separate dining area with it’s own bar – fantastic for a party (I’ve already made a mental note for next year’s office Christmas do.).
SCOFF & QUAFF
No 5 has a reputation for excellent burgers and steaks which is fine if you’re not the adventurous type. BUT, I’d really recommend trying something new. The owners, Henry and Katherine Cripps (who also own The Three Oaks in nearby Chalfont St Peter and The White Oak in Cookham) describe the food as “exciting modern British” and I think that’s spot on. The menu is fresh and interesting with some combos I’d never tried before. ( It’s also updated frequently, if you want to keep up, check out their Instagram feed @No5londonend).
Deciding what to eat was tough as I wanted to try it all, but I settled on the No5 Gin Cured Salmon with horseradish sour cream, pickled celery and rye croutons (£8.90) .Yes alright I picked it because it had gin in the recipe, but it’s their own gin so I’m justifying it on that basis! Good choice as it happened – nothing has made my tastebuds zing like that for a while – amazing flavours.
My husband went for the Pork Belly Croquette with piccalilli puree, charred onion and crackling (£8.50). It’s a current bestseller at the restaurant and he said it was delicious.
Next we both had a little taste of the Heritage Beetroot Tartare with truffled cream cheese and hazelnut cracker (£6.90) – just beautiful.
For the main course I had Grilled Plaice with leeks, Cornish mussels, ham hock and frites (£18.90). On paper I wasn’t sure about that particular combination but it totally works. The fish was cooked to perfection and it was beautifully presented.
My husband went for the Roast Breast of Guinea Fowl, parsnip puree, sprout tops, pig in blanket, chestnut, bacon and roasties. He didn’t speak much while eating which is always a good sign – he loved it.
Now for the pudding main event. I couldn’t resist the Hot Brioche Donuts with smoked sea salt caramel. Should probably have gone for something else in the interests of journalism but could not help myself…LOOK AT THEM!
OUT & ABOUT
Beaconsfield Old Town is pretty, and you can spend hours cooing at the estate agent windows, but most of the browsable shops are in the New Town. Amersham, a few miles down the road, has many more indie stores and jawdropping fashion boutiques. If you have small children in tow, there is nearby Beckonscot Model Village, and the National Trust owned Cliveden is a few miles away (there’s a beautiful walk up to the house by the river – recommended).
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Girly lunches, romantic dinners and people who are willing to try new flavours. Kids are welcome, there’s a set menu for them at £9.
Not for: The buggy brigade – there’s no room for prams and no outside space either, plus only pavement road frontage.
££: We ate from the a la carte menu at £8 – £9 for a starter and £15 – £26 for main courses. But the set lunch menu looks good value, two courses for £15, three courses for £19. The quality of the food is high, well worth it if you want something head and shoulders above the usual high street offerings.