The Hinds Head has an attractive dining room with some exposed beams; the pub itself dates back to the fifteenth century. The Hinds Head kitchen is now run by Kevin Love, previously sous chef here and who trained with Gordon Ramsay amongst others. He is bringing a little seasonality to the menu, which is welcome, though some perennial menu favourites will remain as “signature dishes”. Three courses run to £27.50 on the set menu, while a la carte dishes will work out more. The wine list has choices such as Buiten Chenin Blanc at £19.50 for a wine that costs around £7 in the shops, Prophets Rock Riesling 2006 at £47.75 for a wine that will set you back around £15 to buy retail, Antinori Tignanello 2007 at £136 for a wine you can pick up for around £49 in the shops, up to Chateau Latour 1994 at £600 compared to a retail price of around £323.
Scotch egg (£3.50) was made with a quail egg and pork, the outside using panko crumbs; it was very tasty, though I still prefer the Harwood Arms version (which, to be fair, is a different dish as it uses venison rather than pork). However the pork here had good taste and the egg was soft inside (15/20). Pea and ham soup was a classic rather than seasonal example from the menu: the taste was excellent, seasoning accurate (15/20). Devils on horseback (£1.80) were well made, the prunes moist, the chutney having plenty of depth of flavour and the bacon adding smokiness (at least 14/20).
Ham hock terrine (£9.95) was enlivened with a little layer of foie gras and served with home-made piccalilli, which had just the bite to cut through the richness of the terrine (15/20). Chicken, smoked guinea fowl and mushroom pie (£16.50) had excellent pastry and plenty of rich content, the dish well seasoned: this is what a pie should be but so rarely is (16/20). Fillet of bream with bacon, mushroom and red wine sauce (£20.50) had good quality fish, accurately cooked, with the bacon giving an attractive note to the red wine sauce (15/20). Triple cooked chips (£3.50) were excellent, not too large, crisp and well-made (18/20). Spiced red cabbage (£3.50) was less good, for me a tiny bit under-cooked, while I would have preferred a little more sweet and sour effect to enliven the cabbage (13/20).
Quaking Pudding (£7.25) is based on a mediaeval recipe, the idea being to combine the texture of a warm crème brulee with that of a jelly; this was served with slices of apple on the side and was a comforting, enjoyable dessert, though for me technically accomplished than really delicious (between 13/20 and 14/20). Apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla ice cream (£7.25) was genuinely good, the Granny Smith apples not too sharp, the blackberry working well with the apples, the crumble having good consistency and the vanilla ice cream superb (16/20 easily).
Both double espresso and capuccino were £3.50 and of good quality, served with a few petit fours, though this is another restaurant that will charge you if you full price if you order a second coffee. Service from our Hungarian waitress was superb. Our bill ran to £96 each with some good wine.
Further reviews: 01st Jun 2007