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The Beehive in White Waltham

Rating: 89.
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The word "gastropub" has been so overused that it has fallen out of favour in recent years, but it's a marvellous word to describe the concept of restaurant quality food served in a pub. In fact, isn't this unique British phenomenon, which has been around since the early 90s, the forerunner of "bistronomie'' restaurants. When the bistronomie movement reached its peak in Paris at the beginning of this decade, gastropubs were already a well-established part of the UK dining scene, a number of them having been awarded a Michelin star, and in one case even two stars (The Hand & Flowers in Marlow). Imagine, 'les Rosbifs' showing the French the way forward...

The Beehive is a village pub in White Waltham, overlooking the village cricket ground. White Waltham is located some 30 miles from London, but just 5 miles from Bray-on-Thames, the same place were chef/lease holder Dominic Chapman worked as chef de partie at The Fat Duck in the early 00. Later on he became head chef at Heston Blumenthal's pub the Hinds Head. Before Bray, Dominic Chapman also worked for a number of years with Rowley Leigh at his London restaurant Kensington Place and before taking over The Beehive in 2014, Chapman was head chef for seven years at Michelin starred pub The Royal Oak in Paley Street.

(courtesy of The Beehive)

The Beehive is open daily for lunch and for dinner from Monday through Saturday. There's an a la carte menu (snacks £ 3.50 each, starters £6.95 - €14.50, mains £15.50 - £24.00, desserts £6.95 - £12.95) and there are separate kids and bar menus. Do check the website for all the options. I had lunch at The Beehive with my husband and a friend on Saturday 16 July 2016. *I was recognised

We started lunch with four snacks. First to arrive was Lincolnshire Poacher Welsh rarebit and rabbit rillettes on toast. Nice and smooth rabbit rillettes and the Welsh rarebit was deliciously comforting with a nice tanginess coming from the Lincolnshire Poacher. This was followed by some vinegary rollmops with a lovely horseradish cream filling and a wonderfully crisp quail's Scotch egg with moist and well-seasoned sausage meat and a properly soft yolk.



Next we shared a bowl of creamy new season garlic soup, which had lovely, profound but also refined, garlic flavours. The soup came with some crispy and salty anchovy toast.

My starter was wild rabbit "lasagna". A wonderful combination of succulent rabbit meat, covered with a thin and delicate pasta sheet, and served with a rich and creamy sauce adorned with wood blewit mushrooms and garnished with chervil. A delightful combination, the creamy sauce and mushroom complementing the distinct rabbit flavours nicely. 

This was followed by an excellent piece of halibut, served with pan-fried gnocchi, bacon, a lovely selection of vegetables, such as buttered crunchy cabbage, peas, broccolini, spring onions, tomatoes, and complemented by a pleasingly sharp beurre blanc sauce. A well-executed dish that was full of flavour; however, the halibut could have been a touch more moist.

Dessert was strawberry and elderflower mess, with fresh strawberries, a deliciously sweet and sharp strawberry puree, crunchy meringue pieces, and whipped cream flavoured with elderflower cordial, which delivered a light and elegant touch.

As with restaurants, gastropubs come in all sorts and sizes. At The Beehive you get just the right combination of accomplished cooking and a casual setting, offering much more than just typical pub food, without becoming too "restauranty". The kitchen produces delectable dishes with an excellent choice of seasonal ingredients, all prepared with care. The food is hearty by nature but Chapman makes sure to include a touch of refinement. Service by the charming Alicia Corlett was warm and friendly and included a great wine service. The Beehive is definitely on my "let's go again" list!

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Posted 05-09-2016

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