Shaun Dickens is to relaunch his Henley on Thames restaurant as Bistro at the Boathouse – following his customers’ calls for a more casual offering.
The restaurant, previously known as Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse, has been offering fine-dining à la carte and tasting menus since opening in 2013.
On 31 October the three AA rosette, riverside restaurant, run by Shaun and wife Gemma, will officially relaunch its new offering.
Shaun, who has previously worked at Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire and Per Se in New York, said: “We absolutely love what we do, and we’ve achieved so much, but we have never sat still as a business and we’ve seen a big change in the trends of what our guests are looking for so though we’d take the plunge and try something new.
“We’ve always been fine dining, but because our location right on the river we have a decking area and in the summer it’s absolutely heaving out there. A couple of years ago we introduced a deck menu, which was everything from mac and cheese, charcuterie, smoked salmon, just for people to come and enjoy leisurely rather than the more fine dining two-three course, or six-eight course, menus.
“It’s just been busier and busier with that style of menu, we even had people booking in for the three-rosette menu and then looking at the deck menu and saying that sounds amazing we’ll go for that instead.”
The new menu features dishes such as 12-hour braised and glazed beef with roast celeriac, watercress and chips (£21); New England clam chowder with crispy pork belly (£18) and the Boathouse burger with fried onions, chimichurri, roast tomato chutney and fries (£16).
Dickens, who won an Acorn Award in 2012, added: “[Developing the new menu] has been so much fun, since college at Westminster it’s been Michelin star style and I’ve been doing it for 20 years. It’s been incredible but I looked at myself last year and just thought ‘you’re taking it all too seriously, you’re cooking with guides in mind’. Actually, the most important thing is the guests - I was cooking for the wrong people.
“We’ve been saying there are no rules we own the business there’s no one to tell us what’s right or wrong. We’re just going to do what we want with guests at the heart of it all.”
The restaurant, which has undergone a refurbishment, will continue to use the same suppliers and techniques with Shaun still at the stove, but the couple hope the more relaxed offering will see guests return four, five or six times a year rather than once or twice for a special occasion.
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