The Beehive now has Alex Parker running the kitchen, with Dominic Chapman having moved to The Crown at Burchetts Green. Alex worked as junior sous chef at the Hand and Flowers before moving here. The dining room has several sections and looks out over the village cricket green. Tables were well spaced and there was that rarity these days, carpet on the floor, which meant that noise levels were blissfully low.
The meal began with a canape of marmite cracker. This was odd in a number of ways. Firstly, with Marmite “you either love it or hate it” in the words of their own advertising campaign, so why impose it on the diner? Next, although the little cracker was crispy enough, the topping was just a vague sludge with little in the way of the flavour at all, so even this non-Marmite lover struggled to taste it. I think this is just a bad idea (11/20 is kind). Much better was a very capable Scotch egg with a liquid quail egg centre, nicely seasoned meat filling and a crisp outside (comfortably 14/20). Perhaps a condiment like a chutney would have been beneficial but I am perfectly happy with Scotch egg au naturel. A Welsh rarebit (cheese on toast) was simple but fine, the only issue being that the bread was toasted just a touch on the longer than ideal side. This was not in the league of the cheese toastie at The Wigmore with its three different cheeses, but was pleasant enough (13/20).
Bread arrived in the form of a warm spelt flour and oat roll. This had good crust, sufficient seasoning and its crumb was good. This was particularly welcome to our guest, who was gluten intolerant (apparently spelt does not irritate the digestive system in that was that regular flour does). Tuna tartare was topped with little crumbs of fish and chips scraps, which added a bit of firm texture, and came with avocado, ginger and crackers flavoured with soy and sesame. The tuna itself was good quality and the soy was in nice balance (15/20). A savoury cheese souffle arrived in a pretty copper pan with accompaniments of raw celery and a dressing of hazelnut and black truffle. On the side there was a deeply flavoured, rich cheese and chive sauce which you could then pour over the souffle. The addition of the celery gave the dish freshness and balance and the truffle elevated the dish, the sauce rich and comforting. Where the dish could be improved was the texture of the souffle, which was slightly dense, especially compared to the souffle Suissesse at Le Gavroche (15/20).
Wild rabbit (“wild, it was livid”) came with wood blewit mushrooms and chervil. This was excellent, the rabbit having plenty of flavour and avoiding the dryness that can easily occur with this meat, the pasta having lovely texture and the seasoning spot on (15/20). A special of the day was braised Hereford beef pie made with suet shortcrust pastry, served with green beans and red wine sauce, and either mash or chips as you preferred. The beef itself had plenty of flavour but the dish to me was very heavy with its suet pastry, and desperately needed something sharp like some vinegar some green salad with an acidic dressing to provide some degree of balance (14/20). Fish and chips was made using whiting. This may not be commonly seen here but in Japan this fish (known as “kiss fish”) is regularly used at high end tempura restaurants. This had crisp batter and the fish was well cooked, the mushy peas being above average too, as they were fresh crushed peas rather than the traditional chip shop style (15/20).
Ruby plum soufflé came with burnt honey ice cream, gingerbread and honeycomb. Bramley apple and blackberry millefeuille was very good, topped with blackberry ice cream. The acidity of the fruit cut nicely through the richness of the pastry, which had delicate texture (15/20). Chocolate fondant was well-made and nicely presented. The chocolate was good quality and the centre had the lovely oozing texture that it should have. The ice cream was well made, presumably with vanilla essence as I couldn't see any vanilla seeds. This was a good albeit quite rich dish (14/20). The coffee brand here is Musetti, a cheap coffee that I don’t like at all, so I had tea instead. Service was very friendly and the bill came to £87 a head including corkage. This was a very enjoyable meal (the peculiar canape excepted), the menu extremely appealing and the cooking of a good standard. The pretty village setting of The Beehive is another reason to come here.