Bar Review: Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield

Can’t Bear The Crazy Prices

The elusive and exclusive Crazy Bear Beaconsfield had intrigued me for some time. Their glitzy website extolled baroque glamour; ironically, the entrance and exterior re-defined nondescript. I had previously walked passed Crazy Bear Beaconsfield on several occasions, in complete ignorance that a five-star hotel sat hidden in plain view. Going through the ironically featureless doorway, one would never anticipate the extravagant bonanza waiting behind.

The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield unique interior – the lovechild of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Marie Antoinette – is not to everyone’s taste. In my heightened sense of camp giddiness, I very much enjoyed it. If there were an award (and there should be) for ‘Bar With The Best Smoking Area’, it would win hands down. The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield no doubt offered a sense of theatre: this was not the time nor place for two pints of larger and a packet of crisps. There was a lot going; a restaurants downstairs, annexedxed buildings offered country-chic private dining, while the lavatories were a spectacle in themselves.

The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield Cocktail Menu was top drawer: very classic without being stale. But here is my gripe – the clientele did not appreciate real cocktails. The ladies who lunch only drank Pornstar Martinis (yay a passion fruit), Strawberry Daiquiris (yay a strawberry) or a Cosmopolitans (yay nostalgic DVD Box-Set). Make no mistake, the Crazt Bear Beaconsfield bar staff knew what they were doing: all the hard-hitting cocktails hit the spot. The Manhattans were carefully crafted and the Martinis as good as anywhere. I just lamented that the bar staff’s commendable enthusiasm was largely unappreciated.

Regarding value, at £15 per drink, a boozy night in the Crazy Bear Beaconsfield is expensive – unjustifiably so in my opinion. If you are a camp millionaire, it’s bang up your proverbial. The abundance of multimillion pound properties in Beaconsfield suggested drinkers probably were. For out-of-towners who’ve had one too many (or gotten lucky) and need to discreetly stay the night, on site accommodation is easily arranged (for £450).

The Crazy Bear Beaconsfield
Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 2/10    Quality 10/10    Service 10/10

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Restaurant Review: Brasserie Blanc, Beaconsfield

Brasserie Blanc – Fine French Flavours

I am a massive fan of Raymond Blanc. He begins speaking English with perfection diction, only for his elocution to decline into the utterly incomprehensible. Most know he’s a two Michelin Star chef, but the fact he guided Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White is less well known. When Jay Rayner visited Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, he advised the meal was fabulous, but the cost unjustifiable. Brasserie Blanc provided a respectable job of French Cuisine at a fraction of the cost – worth keeping in mind if your salary is shorter than your phone number.

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield began with The Mediterranean Fish Soup, the best fish soup I’d ever slurped – the perfect summery starter. Tasting of the sea, with luxurious saffron bravely avoiding domination by the heavy-hitting garlic. The Bouillabaisse Sea Bream was perfectly cooked and seasoned – a beautiful piece of bright white succulent fish with delicious crispy skin. Unfortunately, the supporting squid and artichoke fought a losing battle against further piles of garlic. Another highlight was the mouth watering Duck Leg Confit, providing incredible depth of flavour with skin that satisfyingly crackled when cut. However, the undercooked lardons were unnecessary, especially when accompanying chorizo. For dessert, Chocolate Soufflé looked magnificent with a beautiful texture, but didn’t pack a particularly prominent chocolaty punch.

Regarding atmosphere, Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield was teaming with punters creating a real buzz. The interior was tastefully designed and thoughtfully laid out. Although sitting by the side entrance created a rather uncomfortable draft.

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield operated at full capacity, thus service was understandably sluggish. However, everyone from the host to the floor staff provided genuine smiles, and worked in a composed manner. Although, when my girlfriend opted for whiskey she was slightly irked by the shocked waiter – when another server was similarly flabbergasted it bordered insulting.

As starters were £7, mains £15 (plus sides) and desserts £6, Brasserie Blanc represented average value for bourgeois Beaconsfield. However, dining from the Early Bird Menu provides outstanding frugality. Why can’t all chain restaurants be like this?

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield
Review Summary

Atmosphere 8   Cost 7    Quality 7    Service 8

Brasserie Blanc Beaconsfield Review
Top Notch Soup

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Restaurant Review: The Coach, Marlow

The Coach – No Return (Meal) Ticket

I wanted to love The Coach Marlow (formely The Coach and Horses). Mainly as I love Tom Kerridge aka the happiest man on the plant (close second, Kriss Akabusi). This lovely looking gastropub helpfully only takes walk-ins, acting as a spill-over sight for it’s even higher-end sister site The Hand & Flowers down the road, where there is a year long waiting list for their Michelin star Sunday roasts. I couldn’t wait a year and I’m too poor, so The Coach Marlow it was.

Only visit The Coach Marlow if you: can drop any preconceptions, foolishly appreciate tapas, are minted and not hungry. I am none of the above, thus left discontented. I love Mr Kerridge with his amicable West Country patois and proper pub-grub philosophy; disappointingly, The Coach Marlow ignores it.

Controversial opinion – tapas is pointless – a Mediterranean euphemism for expensive inefficiency. Only madmen want dishes to arrive schizophrenically.  The standard excuse is: “To try bits of everything!”. Which is nonsense because portions are so small, only cold crumbs remain once shared. Order your preferences then trade bits later damn it. In any other context, new cutlery is provided and smaller courses sensibly arrive first – nobody thinks anything of it. Tapas means culinary human rights are waived in favour of a needless continental concept.

Rant over (almost). Sitting at The Coach Marlow bar provides stimulating views of the industrious open kitchen; an ideal first date rendezvous, providing distractions from potential awkward silences. The hard-working young kitchen team, went about their business in a focused manner. Unfortunately, everyone else was cramped together. At least I was lucky enough to get a table, or so I thought. Modern televisions were strategically placed, all the fixtures and fittings were handsomely fitted, and the lighting was pleasingly low. 

Everything on The Coach Marlow’s menu sounded delicious. I was expecting a real treat here. The format was oddly split between ‘Meat’ and ‘No Meat’, yet meat’s in both sections:  a practical joke, quirkiness or a genuine mistake, I know not. Furthermore, the descriptions didn’t hint at the wildly varying portions, making things unnecessarily fiddly. Was this a pub or some kind of puzzle…

Everything looked more than appetising, the food I mean, not the staff, I’m not that weird. Anyway, dishes were creatively arranged and housed in beautiful, earthy crockery. You felt that touch of quality. The Coach Marlow produced initially interesting dishes, which later left one puzzled and unsatisfied, rather than intrigued and impressed. The Whisky & Rye Pudding was cold rather than warm – evidently an error of judgement for any winter pudding. The Venison Chilli had the kick of a paraplegic and served grittily under-cooked. A pricey piece of Lamb carried a shameful amount of flaccid fat. The Pigs Head was a delicate croquette rather than something intimidating. This was all lamentable, as the depth of flavour across all dishes was impressive.

The Triple Cooked Chips & Béarnaise were memorable – undisputed world champion pieces of potato. However, as chips were the highlight, The Coach Marlow left me dissatisfied.

The Coach Review Summary

Atmosphere 9  Cost 2  Quality 6  Service 6

The Coach Marlow Restaurant Review
The gigantic pigs head
The Coach Marlow Restaurant Review
Probably the best chips in the world
The Coach Marlow Restaurant Review
Cold whisky pudding

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