Sally Norton discovers the ‘thrill of the grill’ at the new 1269 Restaurant, Bar & Grill at the Crowne Plaza Gerrards Cross Hotel…
The brand new 1269 Restaurant, Bar & Grill at the Crowne Plaza Gerrards Cross Hotel is now officially open and in full swing. Specialising in livestock, game and butcher-style preparation, it has an incredible charcoal josper oven at its heart.
The opening of the new 1269 Restaurant completes the £20 million top to toe refurbishment of the former Bellhouse Hotel, now known as the Crowne Plaza Gerrards Cross.
Named after the year the neighbouring town of Beaconsfield received its charter for trading livestock, 1269 is led by head chef Dean Crews who joined the hotel from the Charing Cross Hotel in London. We went along in the opening week to discover more.
We nibbled on nocerella olives and the Flour Station breadboard while perusing the main course menu. All the meat is aged in-house and, it turns out, they are the only UK restaurant outside London to offer Himalayan salt rock Glenarm organic beef alongside such exceptional meats such as Basque Country’s Txogitzu beef, which is exceptionally tender Spanish meat sourced from older dairy cows. The menu talks about the use of a ‘josper oven’ – which is out on show in the restaurant itself; keen to learn more about it, I asked to have a look and the chef in charge was only too happy to oblige.
Essentially a josper is an enclosed oven that allows you to cook over charcoal at very high temperatures in an open kitchen or restaurant. The bars of the very hot grill cook produce quickly and mark it attractively, while the closed doors can be used to enhance the flavours – the heat that emanates from it when the door is opened add a real touch of drama to the cooking experience! Meat, game and seafood can be either cooked completely on the josper or finished off on it to add flavour. It really is an incredibly piece of kit.
I headed back to our table to enjoy the food I had just seen being cooked. My dining partner opted for the txogitzu beef straight from the josper and, combined with some ultra-crispy chips, he declared it the best steak he’d ever eaten. I opted for the native lobster, poached and then finished on the josper, complete with buttery thermidor sauce, samphire and clams. Totally delicious.
They know their wine here, too, and the glass of Masi Passo Doble from Argentina was deemed a perfect accompaniment to the beef – rich and yet with a light spiciness. The Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Coopers Creek Vineyard was the ideal pairing with my seafood.
The restaurant has a great selection of desserts for those with a sweet tooth – which, of course, included us. We polished off a savarin sponge filled with roasted plum jus and strawberry sorbet, as well as a cold chocolate mousse served with banana ice cream and passion fruit.
Afterwards we headed happily out into the cold winter evening, looking longingly at the newly revamped spa as we went. I don’t think it will be long before we’re back. All in all, it’s a restaurant to rival any in London – only with lots of parking outside.
1269 Restaurant, Bar & Grill
Crowne Plaza Gerrards Cross Hotel
Oxford Road, Buckinghamshire HP9 2XE