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Blumenthal snaps up another Bray pub

The Oxfordshire town of Bray has seen yet another local institution added to the ever-growing portfolio of Heston Blumenthal.

The Michelin-starred chef has bought 14th century pub The Crown, which sits just across the road from his restaurant The Fat Duck.

Blumenthal already owns the Hinds Head pub a little further down the road, but he insisted in an interview with Bloomberg that he was not turning Bray into a “Padstow-on-Thames” – a reference to Rick Stein’s sizeable property cache in the Cornish resort.

The Crown has become the main village pub in recent times as the Hinds Head, although retaining its public bar, has become more of a gastropub than a local.

However, Blumenthal appears to be in two minds as to what exactly he wants to do with his latest venue.

“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,” he said.

As it stands The Crown is already a regular feature in the Good Pub Guide and is renowned for both its atmosphere and good food. Ulrika Jonsson once described it as her favourite pub

The Hinds Head offers a distinctly cheaper alternative to the Fat Duck for those seeking the Blumenthal experience. Last year its profits more than doubled from £51,088 in 2008 to £136,196.

Rupert Millar, 11.05.2010

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