Pubs are closing at the rate of 31 a week according to the real ale group CAMRA. This is particularly worrying because boozers can be demolished or converted into convenience stores, private accommodation and so forth without the need for planning permission – and in most cases communities are powerless to do anything about the loss of their beloved locals.
As CAMRA lobbies to change the law, it’s good to record a clutch of eye-catching pubby acquisitions by high-profile chefs: for some it’s simply an added string to their bow, for others it’s a complete change of pace.
Self-taught chef Richard Johns and his wife Lindsey made their name at Artisan in Hessle – a 16-cover Humberside treasure with limited opening times and a complex high-end menu. Following its closure in 2013, after nine years of trading, they promised to return with a venture that would attract a wider audience: the result is the 40-cover Falcon Inn (pictured left) at Withernwick, between Hull and Mapperton Sands, which is due to re-open in early September. Instead of fine dining, Richard is going back to basics and developing a menu that chimes with the pubby surroundings – so expect honest, comforting food with all-round appeal.
In June we bought you the news that chef Dominic Chapman was leaving the Michelin-starred Royal Oak in Paley Street (pictured right), Berkshire (owned by Sir Michael Parkinson and his son Nick) to set up his own pub in the region. He has finally re-emerged at The Beehive, a local watering hole overlooking the village cricket green at White Waltham, near Maidenhead. Offering a monthly quiz night, cask ales and simple, pub-inspired food ranging from bar snacks to full meals of pickled mackerel with samphire and bronze fennel, calf’s liver and mash or roast grouse with bread sauce and gravy, The Beehive speaks volumes for the versatility of the modern boozer.
If you’ve had difficulties bagging a table at the two-Michelin-starred Hand & Flowers (pictured left) in Marlow, the announcement that celeb chef Tom Kerridge is to open a second pub on the same street is good news – particularly as it’s being touted as a casual, no-bookings venue. Formerly The Coach & Horses, The Coach will open all day, offering breakfast from 8am, cake for the afternoon crowd, and a seasonal menu built around roast meats from an on-view rotisserie. The pub is expected to reopen in early November.
Finally, seven years after leaving Ludlow to relocate his Hibiscus restaurant in Mayfair, two-Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi has acquired a stake in his former Shropshire stamping ground. His brother Cedric already runs The Charlton Arms in the town, and the two siblings recently acquired the 10-bedroom Town House hotel on Broad Street, which they intend to run as a B&B offering continental breakfast but no restaurant facilities. It is due to open its doors in September following some refurbishment.
Written by Molly Monroe.