Heston Blumenthal, the chef known for his culinary creations on television and at the Fat Duck has bought a second pub across the road from his restaurant.
Blumenthal says he hasn’t decided what to do with the Crown, though he wants to keep it as a local bar for people in the village of Bray on the banks of the Thames, west of London.
The chef already owns the Hinds Head along the road, and the way he’s adding properties has echoes of how chef Rick Stein has built a culinary empire in Padstow, in the west of England. Blumenthal says he’s not creating a Padstow-on-Thames.
“We’ve kept the bar at the Hinds Head but the place has become a bit of a culinary destination, so that the Crown has become the local,” Blumenthal said in an interview.
“I might do a steak bar, but good meat is so expensive, I don’t know if the prices would be right. I just haven’t made up my mind what to do yet, though I’m not going to turn it into Bray’s first lap-dancing bar or anything like that. I just want it to be the local pub.”
The Fat Duck took third place at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in London on April 26, behind Noma and El Bulli.
Blumenthal, 43, is currently presenting the second series of “Heston’s Feasts,” where he conjures up odd food treats such as a Willie Wonka chocolate meal. At the Fat Duck, his famous creations include snail porridge and a dish called the Sound of the Sea, where diners wear an iPod while they eat.
“It’s like the kind of pubs I would visit when I first came to England where there’s a lovely community atmosphere,” Swedish-born Jonsson said. “It’s rather charming that people love this pub just as much as Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant across the road.”
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)