Business partners, Matt Dockray and Phil Renna have taken over the running of The Little Angel pub.
Matt and Phil have worked together in hospitality for many years at TVG Hospitality which is owned by Ben Lovett of British folk rock band, Mumford & Sons. Matt was Operations Director and Phil was Managing Director at TVG. During their time at TVG they were involved in many projects in London including the opening of the large food hall at Goods Way at King’s Cross.
After leaving TVG, Matt was looking for his next venture and initially he thought this would be overseas. Living in Marlow he saw that The Little Angel was looking for a new tenancy. Matt said, “My Mum and Dad used to come to the pub and 10 mins after Phil and I visited, we wanted to sign the deal. I’d looked at a few things that were a lot bigger but The Little Angel was more meaningful and intimate. We knew the place had soul to it.” Phil added, “It just felt right and it was happy circumstances. Everyone knows about The Little Angel and thinks fondly of it.”
The duo have recruited chefs Joshua Wilde and George O’Leary who worked at Tom Kerridge’s Hand & Flowers and The Coach pubs in Marlow. Matt explained “Joshua is completely in charge of the menu and we’re using locally produced food and vegetables that are in season. We’re offering dishes that you can’t cook at home.” Joshua added, “I’m delighted to be taking my career to the next level, putting all of the experience I have garnered under some of the best chefs around the world and creating our own identity with some classic dishes. We are blessed to work with some amazing local suppliers that help us focus on delivering some of the best produce around, to our customers. Henley has some really great establishments and we hope we can take the dining experience to the next level whilst giving great value to all guests.”
The pub is offering a range of menus which include A la carte, bar snacks, set lunch menu for (2 courses for £24) and Sunday roasts. The bar snacks include a sausage roll and piccalilli, the unusual and delicious sriracha spiced corn ribs and tender buttermilk fried chicken nuggets all great for sharing too. In the restaurant, the A la carte meals come with baked in-house complimentary treacle and oat soda bread to start with to cleanse the palate. The November A la carte includes a Red wine braised beef cheek Bourguignon which just falls apart served with savoury mash and Roasted Hake with Jerusalem Artichoke and truffle butter which goes perfectly with a side of braised cabbage. Starters include chicken and wild mushroom terraine and an unusual but delicious tandoori spiced prawn scotch egg with saag aloo and curry sauce.
“The importance of offering something for everyone, whether that be a coffee, a pint of beer, a bar snack or a meal and being open when people expect you to be is key,” explained Phil. Matt said, “In the first few days when we’ve opened at 1130am we’ve got people outside wanting to come in.”
Matt added, “The whole customer journey is also important, right from the booking, through the service to the food itself. We think we’re providing good value for money in line with other pubs in the area and our prices on beers and wines are comparable with others.”
The A la carte menu will change once a month and in the next few months, special dishes will be introduced. The pub will also be showing special sporting events including the Autumn international rugby matches and the football World Cup when it kicks off in 10 days time.”
“So far everyone has been very supportive and the feedback has been really good. We’re humble and we hope we’ll get it right but we’ll be listening to our customers and evolving where needed. We’re already starting to think about next year and Henley Regatta and we know that we also need to get that offering right, “ commented Matt.
Brakspear Chief Executive Tom Davies said, “We’re delighted the Little Angel is back open again. It’s an iconic Henley pub and the first week of opening has been very strong. We wish Matt and Phil well and we’re looing forward to continuing to work with them to ensure the Little Angel goes from strength to strength.”