Harden's survey result
“From the moment you arrive, and someone comes to take your car away, you don’t have to think” at Alain Roux’s legendary destination (est 1972), which remains one of the most commented-on restaurants in the UK (and one of the few that has regularly been graced by Her Majesty over the years). It enjoys an “idyllic”, supremely “romantic” location on the Thames, with the option of drinks on the terrace in fine weather, or a quick tootle in the restaurant’s private launch before you eat. WIth large windows facing the water, the dining room itself is very comfortable, and most reporters adore its “old-fashioned” style (although it’s undeniably a little bit of a “time warp”). The “impeccable”, slightly “formal” service is in keeping with the setting, although – while it’s still extremely highly rated – has perhaps lost a hint of its sparkle since the retirement last year of long-term maitre d’, Diego Masciaga. “Classic” Gallic gastronomy comes “with a subtle modern twist” and on practically all accounts is “exceptional from start to finish”. But it also comes at “crazy prices” naturellement, and – in the relatively few cases that reports fall short of rapture – the gripe is typically that the “eye-watering bill and very old-school approach make it hard to understand the fuss” (but then, complaints like this have been knocking about for the last 30 years…)
“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”.
Waterside Inn Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Truly outstanding, every dish was delightfully prepared, with exceptional ingredients and perfect service. Visited with children (11 and 9) and while the food is very expensive, it is easy to see why. Easily the best meal of the last few years."
"I must say I was a little disappointed! Perhaps expectations were too high, but whilst the private room and service were exceptional, I wasn't completely wowed by the food. Some of the tasting menu was delicious, some ok, and so I wasn't convinced the restaurant was worth the small fortune we paid..."
"Our most enjoyable meals recently have been modern, beautifully plated, inventive creations, and we were curious to see how our special-occasion dinner at this citadel of traditional classic gastronomy would compare. As hoped, and as would be expected of a three-star restaurant, our Menu Exceptionnel generally displayed cooking of high class, although we did have a couple of minor criticisms in that the water-bathed halibut could have been coloured in the pan to give it a less insipid appearance and that one serving of venison was a god deal more well done than the medium/rare requested, but surprise and creativity were lacking. Basically we formed the impression that the meal bore the required stamp of the Waterside/Roux Empire tradition and that, if freed from this obligatory approach, Alain Roux would have a different, more modern and more personal approach. The dining room is now less stuffy than it was a few years ago and the front of house staff are, generally, very good, mostly with perfect timing of the complex tasks required to provide faultless service whatever the size of the table, although on a couple of occasions an attempt was made to serve us a wine before the previous one had been finished. A couple of decent canapés led up to a salmon carpaccio with multiple seaweeds, seeds, a kohlrabi and radish salad and a perfect pumpkin emulsion which brought the best out of the delicate salmon. Pan-fried foie gras is a trademark dish here and one of the restaurant’s crowning glories, especially with its appropriate Gewurztraminer sauce. The fairly cool halibut was well supported with strips of mooli and a piquant lime and vodka sauce, and this led into the seasonal game main, a matching pair of venison and pheasant supported by Jerusalem artichoke, wild mushrooms and spinach along with a sauce poivrade. The palate cleanser worked well with the rum-soaked pineapple confit, coconut parfait and slightly nutty pandan curd setting us up nicely for the signature Roux soufflé, this time banana and chocolate nicely flavoured with orange. Nonetheless, an enjoyable dining experience."
"Yes, food was excellent; yes, service was marvellous and ambience very good. Ultimately, though, it's too expensive for what it is. I couldn't class it as good value for money. £450 for two for Sunday lunch, with only one of us drinking wine by the glass and nothing extravagant. I'd say this was about 50% over-priced."
|Wine per bottle||£59.00|
Ferry Rd, Bray, SL6 2AT
|Wednesday||12 pm‑2 pm, 7 pm‑10 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑2 pm, 7 pm‑10 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑2 pm, 7 pm‑10 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑2 pm, 7 pm‑10 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm‑2 pm, 7 pm‑10 pm|