Crockers Henley, an award winning restaurant with rooms ticked all the boxes for a great U.K staycation.
I couldn’t ask for more with its stylish and luxurious interiors and an opportunity to sample the famed tasting menu at the Chef’s table.
There are 7 bedrooms at Crockers, all decorated to reflect the Georgian heritage of the building.
Each bedroom had a superking bed complete with a Hypnos mattress, a roll top bath and ensuite shower room.
Doesn’t the palette of black, white, grey with accents of brown look elegant?This bedroom overlooks the Henley-On-Thames high street. A great spot to people watch.We were welcomed with some premium sparkling wine from Hundred Hills and delicious homemade Welsh cakes.
We spent the afternoon exploring Henley-On-Thames and did a picturesque walk alongside the river, where the Regatta would have taken place over the Summer months.
However, the evening was what we were really looking forward to, a culinary experience at Crockers’ Chef’s Table.Our 7 course menu ( more like 10 course with the additional snacks and petit fours) was under the direction of award winning chef, Alex Payne.
Alex has worked with some of the best chefs in the industry, from Heston Blumenthal to Gordon Ramsay.
It was exciting to see what his signature style would be. Our family loves watching Masterchef on television, so we were thrilled to be able to watch the chefs at work.
They were meticulous, disciplined and creative all at the same time.
Each dish looked a work of art and tasted divine.
We went for the Premium wine pairing menu which really enhanced the whole experience.
The sommelier explained to us each wine pairing and the tasting notes before each course.
To start, we were treated to a few ‘snacks’.
They were tantalisingly good and more-ish.
We had a cornet of crab with crab mayonnaise, cucumber, chilli and avocado mousse topped with caviar, followed by a Cheese and truffle gougère and then a Chicken liver parfait, with Cumberland sauce gel, in crispy chicken skin styled as a Jammie Dodger.
That crispy chicken skin Jammie Dodger was my favourite snack. I could have had more.
Then bread was served, but not any ordinary bread, as it’s made from 150 year old sourdough starter.
They came with a side of tangy and salted Irish butter and light whipped beef fat topped with charred onion powder.
I had to stop myself from eating it all for fear of spoiling my appetite for what’s to come.
The bread was especially delicious with the whipped beef fat.
I haven’t eaten oysters for a long time, and I’ve never been too keen.
However, this Porthilly oyster with cucumber, elderflower and an aromatic herb crust converted me.
This was my favourite dish out of the whole tasting menu, so huge compliments to the chef.
We paired the oyster with a beautiful Gin and Elderflower based Tonic.It was hypnotising watching the 3 chefs at work, with such patience, creativity and meticulous coordination.This Beetroot dish was a work of art.
There was a trio of beetroot, one pickled, one roasted and one dehydrated then rehydrated, all on top of a Beetroot puree.
There were also candied walnuts, a horseradish and beetroot remoulade and some bitter endive leaves dressed in a cherry vinegar. These perfectly balanced the sweetness of the beetroots.This colourful dish is Squab pigeon, English apricot gel and charred sweetcorn.
The pigeon was melt in your mouth tender, and the apricot gel created a little sweet and sour kick whilst the charred sweetcorn added texture.Here you can see the preparation of the next course.It was Cornish line caught cod, Bacon jam, Pink apple gel, fresh pink apples and Celeriac puree.
I would say that Alex Payne’s signature style is his ability to harmonise and offset flavours against one another, create interesting texture for the palette, and all the while producing visually stunning dishes.This is the last of the main course but equally as good.
We had Packington cornflakes chicken, Scottish Girolle and Black Truffle.Despite numerous courses, I always have a little room for dessert, and the ones at the Chef’s table didn’t disappoint, like this British blackberry dessert, with macerated blackberries in blackberry vinegar and sugar, topped with oat crumble, with a poached pear, pear gel and a wonderful Tonka bean ice cream.
Chocolate is always a winner, and this 65% Inaya chocolate from the Ivory Coast, with peanuts, passion fruit gel, edible gold leaf and a yoghurt sorbet over peanut crumb was exceptional.
I know you might think that I’m being over the top and all positive with my review here, but I genuinely loved everything I tasted. My family loved it too, and they are serious foodies.
This was on par with one of our favourite restaurants, that is Frog by celebrity award winning chef Adam Handling.
It’s half term holiday now for most families, and if you are a foodie family, with grown up kids, like us, then this is a great treat for a weekend away.
Alternatively, it makes a wonderful romantic weekend away from home too. I’d say get booking for Valentine’s Day now if I were you.
Staying at Crockers was wonderful. The rooms were luxurious and comfortable. The staff were so friendly and attentive too.
I give it a 10/10, and I mean it.
For more restaurant reviews, do have a read here.
( All photography are by Geraldine Tan, editor of Little Big Bell. We received a hosted stay at Crockers but opinions are my own. I would not write about a place unless I like it).