When is a BBQ not a BBQ? When it’s been conceived and designed by H.Blumenthal. Down in Bray Nick gets a grilling.
When Heston Blumenthal invites you down to the revamped garden of his pub the The Crown at Bray to a barbeque you don’t decline, even if it is March. I mean there’s always a slight possibility it might not rain. And what else is there to do on a Friday lunchtime?
Of course it’s not exactly a personal invitation, as the name checker allows me into the garden I see there are a lot of other people in happy receipt of this PR love.
Half the garden is covered with a very sturdy looking and stylish marquee and up one end is a big open kitchen and a bar. And best of all, the sun is peeking out, albeit fitfully.
The kitchen is smokin', BBQs are blazing cooking a sample menu from the pub and the chefs, some of whom reveal that they usually are in charge of the chemistry set in The Fat Duck, are getting hot and bothered, but always staying cheerful.
The purpose of the BBQ is, apart from to road test the menu, to launch a range of BBQs designed by the Wonka of the food world himself, Everdure by Heston Blumenthal
I have to say they look rather cool. Modern designs that wouldn’t disgrace any indoor kitchen and in a range of types and sizes. The HUB and FUSION charcoal barbeques have the Fast Flame Ignition System, an electric starter, and Everdure claim these BBQs can be ready to cook in ten minutes.
I also like the way that the rotisserie supports are shiny pillars that smoothly rise up from the main body. All the mechanics are inside these pillars so there’s nothing to get greasy.
Heston also had a hand in the design of the gas range, doing all kinds of modifications to get gas to taste as good as charcoal. Cutest of all is the CUBE range of small, portable charcoal BBQs.
Like the Prakti we looked at last year, these are designed to go anywhere. They have a clever lid system complete with integrated food grade storage area and preparation board that contains a useful tray and grab handles that apparently don’t get hot.
All the Everdure’s are made largely from aluminium, a costlier alternative to enamelled metal but which means they won’t turn in a pile of rust over winter.
Bring on the food
And what of the grub? Well this is certainly BBQ pimped up. Chilli and Vanilla mayonnaise prawn sliders, an open face rib eye steak sandwich with blue cheese and onions, suckling pig from the spit roast slammed into brioche buns with BBQ sauce and kimchi coleslaw (we ate extra crackling as it was excellent).
And a beef and bacon cheeseburger that made me actually reconsider my attitude to beefburgers. Maybe they needn’t be so boring after all, the trick is perhaps not to shove everything but the kitchen sink into the bun but let the meat do the talking.
Dessert of pineapples cooked on the spit roast, caramelised and served with salted caramel popcorn ice cream are similar to the dish served at Dinner, really superb. Smoke in your pineapple really is something to savour.
The Everdure BBQ range is not cheap, but neither are these B&Q standard BBQs. Personally, as far as charcoal goes, I’d see them as a challenge to the Big Green Egg, with the advantage of the electric starters and not having to cook blind with a lid down. Gas, despite Heston’s assurances, I’d still not want myself. I like the caveman approach.
And when the sun’s comes out in earnest, I’ll be heading back down to The Crown, for more of that fine food.