£500,000 ‘surprise’ for Dragon dinersBy David Millward
June 21, 2011
A landmark restaurant has reopened with a new menu after a major £500,000 refurbishment.
Bel and the Dragon, at Blake’s Lock, was closed for a month while works were carried out in the kitchen, bar and dining area.
A new head chef, who previously worked for Gordon Ramsay, has devised a fresh menu for the re-opening.
The site of the old Victorian pumping station on the waterfront of the Kennet and Avon Canal still boasts the vaulted ceiling with oak beams and features dating back to its original use as a biscuit factory.
But diners will notice a new interior design by London-based Nicola Harding and a longer bar offering a revised cocktail menu, as well as a selection of wine and draught and bottled beers.
Chef Ronnie Kimbugwe joined the firm from Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s and developed the menu with the venue’s Steve Rooney. It has an emphasise on fresh, seasonal and sustainable local ingredients.
Mr Kimbugwe said: “I am very proud of my work in London, but I have always dreamed about running a quintessential English restaurant in the country. I am very excited to be working with restaurants exuding character, charm and history.
“We look forward to offering guests a superb culinary experience with a modern twist and an element of surprise.”
Food will be prepared in a refitted kitchen which features a rotisserie and a Josper grill, similar to a closed barbecue.
The new menu includes starters such as crispy Cornish whitebait, marinated beetroot and burrata and a board of Serrano ham.
Main courses include linguini of Devon crab, wild mushroom tortellini and braised lamb shank or dishes such as roasted Creedy Carver duck from the rotisserie or sirloin steak from the Josper grill.
Diners can take advantage of the summer weather with outside seating on the boardwalk and on the barge. And two raised dining areas are available for parties of 10 or 28 for celebrations or business meetings.
Bel and the Dragon opened on the site of the old Grade II-listed Blake’s Lock Museum building in May 2004, having invested about £2 million on the venture.
It has other restaurants in Windsor, Cookham and Godalming.