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The Beehive

Waltham Road, White Waltham, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 3SH, United Kingdom

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Chef interview

Dominic Chapman is head chef and owner of The Beehive, and was previously head chef at the Royal Oak, a pub near Maidenhead which achieved a Michelin star for its simple yet beautifully executed British food.

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Dominic Chapman gained a Michelin star for The Royal Oak, and in August 2014 struck out on his own, taking over the Beehive in White Waltham. This is very much a village pub, overlooking the local cricket ground. On the autumn night that we visited there was a huge bonfire in a field nearby that I presume was the remnants of a firework display, but did look worryingly like an outtake from the film The Wicker Man. The Beehive seats around 75 guests at any one time and the main room is carpeted, meaning pleasantly restrained noise levels even on a packed evening. The menu is particularly appealing – I could have happily ordered every single dish on offer tonight, which makes a nice change when so many chefs seem anxious to show how clever they are by introducing ever more bizarre ingredients and peculiar flavour combinations. Prices were kind: Starters ranged from £5.95 to £9.95, main courses £11.95 to £21.50, side dishes around £3 and desserts £5.25 to £6.95.

The wine list had just a couple of dozen bottles, ranging in price from £16.50 to £45, with a median price of £27 and an average mark-up of just 2.5 times retail price, which is very fair by UK standards. Example labels were Lamark Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2013 at £20 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £11, Downton Abbey Claret at £30 for a wine with a retail price of £13, and Devaux Grand Reserve Champagne at £45 compared to a shop price of £30.

Bread was bought in from the Bread Factory and had good texture, tasting very fresh (14/20). A Scotch egg (£3) was made to order with a liquid quail egg yolk at the centre and plenty of pork taste coming through (14/20). Cauliflower soup (£5.95) with toasted almonds and Stilton had plenty of flavour and was seasoned well, the almonds giving a useful textural contrast. It is possible to pack even more into such a dish, as I recall from a remarkable version of a similar soup at The Hardwick, but this was certainly a very good starter (14/20).

Crab linguine (£9.95) with chilli lemon and mint had good pasta and a decent amount of crab; I could have done with a touch more chilli, but this is down to personal taste, and overall it was a most enjoyable dish (14/20).

Haddock and salmon fishcakes (£12.50) with leeks and tartare sauce worked well. There was a generous amount of fish, the coating was crisp and the leeks were excellent, avoiding the wateriness than can often afflict them in less skilled hands; the tartare sauce also had a nice sharpness to it (14/20).

Venison (£19.95) was loin of fallow deer on a bed of red cabbage alongside gratin dauphinoise. The potatoes were very good, not too creamy and retaining some firmness. The cabbage was carefully cooked but a touch more vinegar would have improved it, and although the deer was cooked pink it had a slightly chewy quality in places (13/20).

Blackberry trifle (£6.95) was excellent, the component layers of the trifle nicely prepared, the overall dish in balance (15/20). Lemon posset (£5.25) came with excellent shortbread biscuits and a garnish of nice raspberries, but the posset itself was a touch too creamy; a little more lemon would have improved the balance. As it was the lemon curd at the bottom provided a touch of welcome acidity, but not quite enough (13/20).

Service was very friendly and capable. The bill came to a very fair £43 head, albeit with us bringing our own wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a realistic bill for two would be around £55 a head. Although it was early days for The Beehive, the cooking is already at a strong level, and the overall experience was most enjoyable. It will be very interesting to watch as the kitchen team comes together and the cooking develops further.

 

Further reviews: 06th Nov 2021 | 18th May 2016

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  • Ross Stanford

    Thank you Mr Hayler. I have had 3 really lovely plates of food...a rabbit lasagne with mushrooms which made me think of my forest home, a lovely delicate cream sauce surrounding sweet, earthy shredded rabbit and 3 very thin layers of pasta. Peppered venison with fantastic, salty , creamed potatoes. A bitterness from the peppers and richness of the stock together giving a lovely classical taste to this. To finish a chocolate torte with ridiculously thin walls and great bitter chocolate hit. Tomorrow night they have Jesse Dunford Wood doing a seven course guest spot with wine flight. And there are seats available. I may be back tomorrow! Really good...if you are in the area I recommend you stop by.

  • mike

    I have considered the bee hive as my local for the last 15 years, mainly for drinking but also eating perhaps every 2 months or so. 2 years ago I stopped drinking there due to the poor service at the bar with attention being concentrated on the restaurant. We also cut back on the visits for food as the menu offered food with the same sauce on most dishes and the sunday lunches clearly having pre-bought meat and warmed up microwave vegtibles. Absolutely delighted with the change, the bar is now well managed and friendly and we have eaten there more in the short time since Dom took over than in the previous year. Costs more but better value for money. As in most things in life "you get what you pay for"

  • simon

    Good review Andy but this is now a restaurant not a pub..A lot of locals have felt that the changes by Dominic Chapman have been for his own benefit and not the existing clientle.Prior to his arrival the pub was already doing a roaring trade offering good food at affordable prices.Yes the food has improved but so have the prices! For example charging of bread is cheeky as well as charging for sides when you have already increased the prices by up to 20%.Roast grouse for £28 when local farmers and shoots all but give it away. Then after that you get charged a service charge which is preposterous for a pub. Surely if you have increased the prices you can afford to pay your staff more?

  • Paul Henderson

    We were fans of Dom's cooking at The Royal Oak, and last month had a very good lunch at The Beehive, home made Scotch eggs, crab linguine and fish cakes all satisfied. The room is very nice, spacious with big windows and lots of light, and the waiting staff are both efficient and friendly. It's a pity it is 180 miles away, but we already have another lunch booking! Nearer to home, former Gidleigh Park chef Ian Webber is cooking very well at The Five Bells at Clyst Hydon, Devon. The pub has been renovated by Paul Parnell who also owns the pleasant Jack in the Green near Exeter.

  • Kit Chapman

    I guess it's inevitable that The Beehive's "Old Guard" are going to have their noses put out of joint by the "New Regime"! The fact remains that Dominic has raised the bar in White Waltham and it's already paying off with both locals and visitors from far away who have made the pub a new destination for really good food. Of course, I happen to be Dom's dad and would support him anyway. But by any yardstick, folk today will eat better in this lovely village than they ever have done in the past!

  • Mike Berry

    Great evening in the Beehive, loved the new food. Dominic has evidently given this place the touch it needed. We travel quite some way to visit, but we will be back again sooner than I'd anticipated! Well done, great start to your ownership!

  • Richard Branch

    This used to be one of my absolute favourite pubs to visit for a beer and some good, but inexpensive, food. The perfect English pub, decent beer, cricket and a few planes buzzing overhead. At £40 a head "without drink" it is no longer that and you didn't even mention the beer Andy! It's such a pity that every decent pub succumbs to the celebrity chef/gastro pub culture. I appreciate that some pubs must sell food to survive but The Beehive was thriving as was, sounds like that's another one off the list of places where my son and I can go for an honest beer and a pie!