The Greyhound describes itself as a ‘comfortable pub and restaurant serving modern British food’, which is true, but modest. With a clutch of awards under its belt, including the Muddy Award for Best Restaurant last year (proudly displayed in the foyer) this place is destined for stardom (you know the type I mean), and it’s stylish and sassy to boot.
Located opposite a church on a relatively serene Beaconsfield street, away from the hubbub of the main drag, but not so far as to be cut-off, it’s quiet, but not graveyard (if you’ll excuse the pun), and is oozing with history.
Owners Daniel Crump (front of house) and wife Margriet (sommelier) have a stellar hospitality CV behind them and have really only just got off the starting blocks having opened only weeks before the first lockdown. Now they’re well away though with an avid following both locally and from further afield, and often with a waiting list for weekend tables.
A Grade II listed 17th century former coaching inn, the vast double timber doors for carriage entry are still intact, though the entrance these days in on foot via the foyer with its piano and lavish burnished gold and exotic bird print wallpaper. The whole place is low ceilinged and heavily beamed but somehow also contemporary and stylish, though nothing here takes itself too seriously. The leather banquet seating is bright yellow. Monkeys inexplicably adorn the tables in various forms – a candlestick here, and ornament there, and it’s all tied together with rich tones of deep navy, gold, yellow and dark wood. Despite the double window frontage, it’s sultry and atmospheric. If you want light and breezy, book a table in the sheltered pagoda area in the garden.
Upstairs was about to go through its third incarnation when I visited, having been first a lounge area and then a more boho dining room, adjusted to meet demand as Daniel and Margriet have got to know their market. By now it will have been refurbed again (these guys don’t let the economics get in the way of their creative vision) with the aim of bringing it into keeping with downstairs – there’s signature curved yellow banquet coming in plus lavish rugs and all to be overlooked by an exuberant oil painting of a greyhound.
Throughout, the tables are spaced generously apart and cleverly angled or positioned with antiques or pillars to give privacy to each one.
Outside is a less swanky affair with rustic wooden tables under a simple and bright wooden pagoda overlooking an area planted up with fruit trees and raised beds from which many of the herbs, micro-greens, fruit and veg are picked – impressive given the urban nature of the plot, but it could be prettier and I expect more will be done here once the dust has settled on the first floor refurb.
SCOFF & QUAFF
This is where The Greyhound really stands out. The owners have a combined pedigree of Michelin-starred Pétrus in Knightsbridge, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, Trinity in Clapham, and the Oxford Blue, Old Windsor – not a bad start! There’s clearly an intent on quality that starts with Crump’s three-piece suit and the natty staff uniforms (green braces, bow-tie and trousers – in that mustard yellow again) and goes through to the presentation and attentive service, which is more Michelin than gastropub.
Whether you opt for the tasting menu, a la carte, or the fixed price menu (or a mixture – they’re not stuffy), every sitting is accompanied by little amuse bouche dishes that come creatively presented. First up was a paper thin and crunchy salt and vinegar crisp with tartare sauce (all handmade, naturally) topped with micro Thai basil and presented on a sort of tiered mini tree. It was superb – a crisp and piquant taste that went perfectly with my glass of fizz from Wiston Estate, Sussex and my companion’s bloody mary.
A pretty herb and veg-adorned little pot of houmous came next then warm homemade bread (who can resist?) with two butters – one hay-smoked and the other black garlic. Both had that whipped light texture that’s dangerously moreish.
Fish is delivered fresh to the restaurant every day from Cornwall and it shows – my cured Cornish hake with Avruga caviar, orange radish and cucumber was straight-off-the-boat fresh and looked like a perfect spring dish while my fellow diner had the zesty Cornish mackerel tartare with avocado, lime and coriander, and before it a nibble of crispy fish skin topped with caviar and taramasalata.
To accompany it, I went with the Arinto Blend white wine from Portugal because it was recommended with the fish dishes and I’d not heard of it, but the description made it sound rather like a citrussy burgundy and indeed, it really was. With 19 wines by the glass here, partly thanks to the Coravin system, which can extract wine without removing the cork, you can have a lot of fun with the food and wine pairing and taste around.
Buoyed by the success of the first glass, I followed this with a Bulgarian Pinot Noir, another first for me and it was a light but fruity pairing with the squash, mint and ricotta cannelloni with chard and pumpkin seeds. The flavour combinations were superb and the mint really lifted it. I found the pasta a little too thick, but the filling and sauce weren’t lacking so it was balanced.
The Buckinghamshire pork chop was exquisitely cooked – a crisp crackling edge and meat that was tender – a tough coup to pull off.
The pre-dessert was an intriguing but delicious combo of tapioca infused with coconut plus mango, passion fruit and basil. A good refresher before we succumbed to the pistachio cake and cremeux, white chocolate, rhubarb and hibiscus and the dulche de leche, waffle and banana. Both were beautifully crafted dishes and much lighter than one would have expected – good job too given the homemade chocolate truffles and ‘fruit pastilles’ that rounded off the meal.
Throughout we were guided through in a friendly but not over-bearing fashion with opinions given where sought. Daniel is fastidious about staff training here, from the wine to the dishes and the provenance, and it shows.
OUT AND ABOUT
Cliveden, an easy jaunt away in the car
You’re bang in chi chi shopping territory in Beaconsfield – the High Street is particularly strong for interiors (Farrow & Ball; Halcyon Interiors; Hearnes Beaconsfield etc), plus there are a smattering of boutiques or zip across to Amersham for a more focused fashion offering of Chattertons, Fabric and Whistles. For families Bekonscot Model Village is 10 minutes drive – little kids will go wild for it – as is Chiltern Open Air Museum.
There’s a lovely circular walk between Beaconsfield and Seer Green if you want to stretch your legs, or you’re 15 minutes from the National Trusts as Cliveden near Marlow and Hughenden Manor in Wycombe.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
The food is the star here, though that’s closely followed by the service. It’s all about the experience – imaginative and fun cooking without the pomp and ceremony.
GOOD FOR: They’ve really pulled it off, creating a character vibe but in a friendly setting that works as well for a date night as it does a working lunch, girls night or meal out with friends.
NOT FOR: Large groups – one table seats eight but the rest are six max. It also isn’t a place to bring young kids – though friendly there’s no dedicated menu and frankly, though it’s fun here, it’s the grown-up sort.
The Greyhound, 33 Windsor End. Beaconsfield. Buckinghamshire, HP9 2JN. Tel: 01494 671315.