Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
A leading light in the UK’s gastronomic constellation since it first opened in 1972 – this famous Thames-sider (a favourite of the Royal Family) is run nowadays by Alain Roux (with father, Michel, still sometimes popping up in the dining room). “Swans are usually in view” in its “glorious” and “peaceful” riverside location, and in particular the location is “unsurpassable on a warm evening in summer”, when a meal typically starts off with a glass of champagne on the terrace, or even a jaunt in the restaurant’s private launch. The meal itself at any time of year takes place in a plush conservatory overlooking the river. Stylewise, you could be in rural France, and to some tastes this classic temple of Gallic gastronomy “feels a bit of a time warp” with perennial calls in some quarters for “a bit more risk and creativity” in the cuisine. For the vast majority of reporters however, the overriding impression is that “attention to detail is a way of life here”, with the kitchen’s “classical French perfection” judged “absolutely outstanding in every way”, and service likewise – overseen by long-term general manager Diego Masciaga is “unmatched”.
“On a fine summer’s day, nothing can be more enchanting” than Alain Roux’s Thames-side epic (founded in 1972 by his father Michel), whether you are “sipping pre-dinner cocktails on their electric launch (and looking forward to a sumptuous meal after you glide back to the dock)”, or “sitting under the willow tree watching the boats go by as you sip a vintage champagne”. A further boost is provided by its “absolutely impeccable” service (“nobody runs a better dining room than maître d’ Diego!”). When it comes to the classic haute cuisine, however, there seemed to be “a number of question marks” this year and its rating sipped a notch; it has always been “eye-wateringly expensive”, but even some who praise the food as “exquisite” can also find it “unimaginative” or “dated” in style (“like taking a time machine back to the ’80s”). That’s still a minority view however; on the vast majority of accounts this is a case of “perfect food in a perfect setting”.
“Perfect in every way!” – Alain Roux’s “heavenly” Thames-side legend is at “the very pinnacle of classic French cuisine” (“with a few modern, but unpretentious twists along the way”). Aperitifs on the terrace in summer are a particular highlight, but the “elegant”, if “slightly old-school” setting is also “wonderful in winter”, and the ambience is enhanced by the impeccably well-judged service led by “masterful maître d’ Diego”. “Your plastic needs a very high melting point” to cope with the “toe-curling prices”, but for the vast majority of reporters “it’s a spectacular experience for your bank account to die for”.
“Champagne and canapés by the Thames can’t fail to seduce” – the Roux family’s “magical” haven is at its romantic zenith on a sunny day; “it may not be at the culinary cutting edge”, but a meal here offers a “divine” combination of “sumptuous” classic cuisine and “seemless” service; the bill? – “heart-stopping”.
Waterside Inn Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Visited again last week. Beautiful venue, fantastic food, and the front of house team are the best I have encountered anywhere, led as always by Diego. It's expensive, but brilliantly executed classic food."
"faultless; amazing food, amazing service"
"This is the sort of restaurant for occasions such as birthdays (and there were lots on this particular evening!) as they take reservations three months in advance to make it seem like it's an honour to dine there. This was our second time - the first time was a birthday celebration just husband and I - and we were celebrating my birthday with my husband and our two children. Fortunately, the restaurant is not snooty when it comes to allowing well-behaved children to dine here - some restaurants will not take children who are under sixteen years! The menu hasn't changed much since we came here 13 years ago and we made this comment. We were told it's seasonal and it was true that we dined here in the same month, which was why the menu was similar as the ingredients are what is available in this season. We must try to come in the summer, autumn or winter to compare. However, we've decided that it's not quite worth the effort to make the booking and to pay extortionate prices to test whether they are telling the truth about changing the menus seasonally. The duck was very disappointing and we should have opted for the bresse chicken instead."
Ferry Rd, Bray, SL6 2AT
lunch noon - 2 pm, dinner 7 pm - 10 pm
Last orders: 9.30 pm