From Maidenhead to Mayfair

Saturday, February 22nd , 2020

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It is an eternal mystery as to why it is so difficult to get good fish and chips in London. You can get excellent fish and chips in Whitby, for example, so why not the capital? It is hardly the availability of haddock or potatoes, or a curious regional lack of deep-frying skills in Britain’s capital city. I know it is possible, since Simon Hopkinson once produced exemplary fish and chips at Bibendum. It is as though his magic formula has been lost forever, like some ancient skill in building giant stone statues. Although there are a few reasonably worthy efforts, there is no clearly high-class chippy in London, and I have tried a lot. The Mayfair Chippy is no exception to this ironclad rule, serving up average chips and fish with rather greasy batter, for all its location on the most expensive square on the Monopoly board.

The Crown at Burchetts Green is a very special little restaurant in the countryside near Maidenhead. Chef Simon Bonwick works on his own in the kitchen, starting each week with an empty fridge and conjuring up elaborate classical French dishes, including complex sauces that take days to make. One example is pictured. The restaurant rightly has a Michelin star as testament to the quality of the food, despite the complete lack of commis chefs and sous chefs that are normally expected at this level. At this latest meal we ate a string of fine dishes, all at a price of just £43 for the tasting menu, which would barely buy you a main course in Mayfair. The genuine hospitality of his family, who manage the front of house, is another joy of the place. This gem is a short train ride from Paddington or a drive down the M4, and if you live in west London you can get there faster than a journey to Shoreditch