Harden's survey result
“Heaven on earth” – Alain Roux’s “superlative” institution is, for very many reporters, the country’s leading temple of classic Gallic gastronomy. It helps it has a “gorgeous” Thames-side setting, with the possibility of starting off a summer meal with a glass of fizz and canapés on the beautiful outside terrace (or even a quick spin down the river in the restaurant’s private launch). “The Roux chef who shuns the media produces traditional cuisine, but modernised to be lighter and healthier” [well, somewhat]. “It is a conservatively-slanted menu so there were no fireworks or innovation in terms of the dishes, but the quality of ingredients are second to none on earth” and results are “simply stunning”. Unfortunately so are the prices – it is “frighteningly expensive” (and it is worth noting that the ‘rapport prix/qualité’ was questioned a bit more often this year). Intrinsic to the experience is the “unparalleled” service from “some of the best staff in hospitality” – a team that “has no swagger, but is all class” (“an astounding feeling of style, without being overbearing or pompous”). In May 2018 as our survey was concluding, Diego Masciaga, part of the fixtures and fittings for the last 30 years and probably the most popular maitre d’ in the UK retired, leaving Frédéric Poulette the unenviable task of following in his footsteps.
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”.
Waterside Inn Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Total dining excellence"
"The location is great and having your champagne and your coffee in front of the river is really amazing. The room is very well arranged and one makes the most of the view. The food is great as well. It is very traditional and could maybe be a tiny bit more adventurous ... but that would just be to make the perfection even more perfect !"
"A luxurious experience, with an unbeatable dining room view over the river."
"Our first, but certainly not our last visit to this lovely restaurant in a fabulous setting. A real fine weather location. Loved the ambience of this establishment which is full of character but most importantly the food we ate was so well executed and balanced ,full of taste and efficiently served. It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary and we simply fell in love all over again!"
"In a way it is almost like stepping back into the old world of classic French dining with an atmosphere and service to match when you treat yourself to dinner at The Waterside with its super riverside setting. At first glance the menu appears familiar and conventional, but in fact a good deal of updating has taken place in the presentation and the combination of ingredients, as exemplified by the introductory plates, which were far from simple canapés: goat’s cheese and asparagus mousse with Campari and grapefruit jelly and salmon roe, followed by olive palmiers, an outstanding hot smoked eel and apple mousse, and a jokey ‘pork pie’. The assembly of flaked crab influenced by the effect of a ginger scented cucumber jelly and oscietra caviar showed how standards can be upheld, and a second inspired entrée mixed and matched foie gras, capers, bean sprouts and terrific caramelised orange - à la grenobloise maybe but entirely modern. The fish dish was probably the standout for us - superb turbot with a hint of marjoram and its beurre noisette, parsley sauce, swede and root vegetables, excellent morels, and an exemplary vin jaune. The pigeon breast main course took things down a peg for us as it seemed rather underseasoned, although it has to be said that the sauce diable was devilishly good, as was the barbajuan with the bird. A basil sorbet with mango espuma led us into the first dessert - delicious cannelé with hazelnut praline and citron vert at its centre. A good old soufflé, rhubarb this time, enhanced with raspberries, finished things off, a perfect example properly coming away from the sides of the dish without collapsing and literally melting in the mouth. With a wine flight of high quality, we can only say that for once a three star rating is deserved."
Ferry Rd, Bray, SL6 2AT
lunch noon - 2 pm, dinner 7 pm - 10 pm
Last orders: 9.30 pm