We heard that the Michelin Award winning Chef – Landlord Simon Bonwick was back cooking in Berkshire after an eighteen month spell away cooking for a High Net Worth family around the Globe?
The gossip is all true folks and the mad- bad Bonwick bench marks of first class cooking are even more simplified than that of his former tenuers in The Three Tuns, Henley and before that at the Black Boys Inn, Hurley.
Having quietly taken over the Crown four months ago we found him working completely alone like some kind of despotic crazy. Bonwick looks like he starts at four to bake the bread, clean the loo's, clean his Beer lines and order his Ales, washes up, waxes the floor and lights the candles before cooking dinner Wednesday to Monday inclusive of Sunday lunch. Five miles from Marlow and Henley and 35 minutes from London we arrived just after eight thirty on a bleak, blustery and sodden evening, absolutely starving.
We supped and quaffed Pints of Fine Abbott Ale and superb Rebellion Roasted Nuts in the candle lit bar as the weather did its worst outside. Ushered to our chunky bleached washed pine table with its simple setting, perfect bread rolls are thrust at us with large domes of Charantais Butter. Warm, crunchy and a fine start as we become the only table left in this eccentric & quirky Restaurant (covered in Bonwicks Art). Smoked Eel with Jellied Leeks for me and Mr Farleys Beetroot salad for him in doors. Both dishes are fresh, exciting and have jolly fine seasoning!!! Next lip smacking Steak and Kidney Pudding “feather light pastry” and plenty of melting meat. The portion is not too small or too big. Him in doors tucks in to Berkshire Pig Fillet with Some Roasting Juices, this has Artery sticking qualities. This again is a fine portion, generous to a tee. It has a crispy stuffing ball and warm Apple to die for, along with a perfectly juicey Chipolata from the same Pig. Heaven and justice done to the memory of the Pig, Bonwick later told us “he hoped anyway?” He needn't this is choice cooking at choice prices £24 per head so far. Add the bottle of Sams Island Shiraz at £22 and we are now at £68. Well then, £6 for dessert. Treacle Sponge “hot” for him in doors and Roqufort and Eccles for me. The Eccles came fluffy, flaky and warm a perfect foil for the Cheese and the Treacle Sponge came with Vanilla Ice Cream, sensual and dreamy. Armanagac £12 and Coffee with superb Caramel truffles £3.50.
Despite the Novice service, lack of bottled water and paper napkin this is fantastic cooking by Bonwick, making it an excellent offer all round there at The Crown. The Ladies Loo's are a tad cold too! Funny that Bonwick's Loo's are always cold, I asked him why and he said “best time is spent at the table!”
We wish him well and bloody good luck, he's going to need it in this location we think?