Bigger and better in every sense.
What do you get if you take a hugely popular and successful restaurant bar in one of Britain's most affluent towns and triple it in size?
VIDEO: Take a virtual tour of the newly renovated Beech House by watching the video slideshow above
In the case of The Beech House in Beaconsfield it's not a trick question. That is exactly what operator Oakman Inns has done and the success of this atmospheric venue has quite literally trebled.
This transformation has to be seen to be believed.
Three months of work went into the renovation, taking over two neighbouring units and it has dramatically increased The Beech House’s high street presence in the town.
Now as many as 40 guests can eat outside under an all-weather canopy, pavement cafe style and it has a very 'London' vibe to it, without all the hustle, bustle and fumes.
An enlarged bar area sits at the heart of the restaurant featuring a unique 10m long weathered brass bar and plenty of additional and flexible seating suitable for all sorts of get-togethers.
In fact I have never seen such a mixture of groups in a bar restaurant as I did during my time at The Beech House over Easter. From families enjoying a nice meal together to groups of men and women meeting up at the bar.
Inside it looks super cool. The contemporary, semi-industrial feel with exposed brick, concrete and steel contrasts with timber panelling, pin spot-lighting, bright banquette seating in leather and velvet, giant mirrors and terrazzo floors.
A quick look around suggests this is more than a restaurant-bar too. Power points are cleverly positioned all around and general manager James Stanton says it is fast becoming a hub for people working remotely too. And who can blame them.
But what about the food?
In terms of the communities they serve, Oakman Inns says its menu strategy is to look after everyone’s needs, not just those of the many.
The spring and summer menu for 2019 has just launched and with temperatures rising the offering has changed.
Exciting new Mediterranean-inspired dishes have been added with a healthy emphasis on the use of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and healthy fats such as olive oil, plus fresh, sustainably-caught fish and some tasty meat dishes.
The menu truly reflects the flavours of the Mediterranean and introduces some innovative vegetarian and vegan options including No-Beef Burger and Portobello Mushroom & No Pollo Tagine. The carnivore customers shouldn’t roll their eyes, however, as Oakman has also jazzed up their meat dishes and the new offerings have been going down a treat in trials.
One dish tipped to become a spring best-seller is Chicken Milanese. A fried oregano and panko crumbed chicken breast, served on a bed of Josper-grilled peppers, courgettes, mozzarella with arrabbiata sauce. A side order of newly re-sized chips might be the choice of many, if they aren’t saving themselves for a Peach Melba Pannacotta – suitable for vegans, but equally fitting to satisfy a sweet craving.
From their famous Josper charcoal ovens, Oakman’s award-winning Chef Director, Ross Pike, has added a new starter of Spicy Pork Meatballs served with Harissa sauce and Puccia bread. Ross is careful not to get too bogged down in labels. He and his chefs have created a range of delicious dishes suitable for all types of tastes, lifestyles and ages - including a healthy kids menu - that he hopes their guests will be comfortable with and, more importantly, want to try.
Their craft-trained pizzaiolos will continue to produce a range of consistently high quality and truly authentic Neapolitan pizzas in their wood-fired, stone-floored ovens. The have been trained to be obsessive about the oven temperatures which create blackened - and not burnt – cornicione. They combine the best Italian ingredients with very precise, traditional Neapolitan cooking methods using dough that’s been kneaded and then proven (on site) for a minimum of 48 hours and cooked in their ovens at an approved, very high temperature - as you can see in these pictures.
In terms of starters there is something for all tastes but you can't go wrong with the Greek Mezze Plate. It is plenty for two people and comes with whipped feta, red pepper and garlic hummus, marinated stone-in olives, gem lettuce, puccia bread, Josper-grilled courgette and pepper and fried artichokes.
One of the most flavoursome offerings on the new spring/summer menu is surely the Ravioli Di Zucca. There's no meat here but instead summer squash filled ravioli, squash butter, toasted pumpkin seeds and rocket. A taste sensation.
The specials offered some excellent variety for our visit and if it is meat you are looking for then the rack of ribs will prove all too tempting. Served with fries, a salad which seems to have been dressed by angels and a sumptuous barbecue sauce. The meet literally melts off the bone onto your fork or - if you are uncouth like me when it comes to meat - straight into your mouth.
There were similar levels of temptation when it came to the Eton Mess on the specials menu and we were not disappointed as you get plenty for one and even enough for two smaller mouths.
The white chocolate cheesecake comes with vanilla ice cream and is dressed with honeycomb pieces. But the crowning glory on the dessert menu is the good old chocolate brownie which is served with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate or caramel sauce.
Sometimes with big expansions like this, all the elements which made a venue work or made it popular start to be eroded.
But manager James and his team are already in their stride. As he said himself, they didn't just want to make The Beech House Beaconsfield bigger, they needed to.
This bold move by Oakman Inns is already paying off.
The Beech House is bigger, better and cooler than ever.