Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in Berkshire
Hardens guides have spent 29 years compiling reviews of the best Berkshire restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 156 restaurants in Berkshire and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Berkshire restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Berkshire Restaurants
1. The French Horn French restaurant in Sonning-on-Thames
“A gorgeous aspect overlooking the river… perfect for a sunny Sunday or bank holiday lunch” creates a picture-book English scene at this Thames-valley fixture, just over the bridge from lovely Sonning. Known for its “outstanding duck, which roasts in an open fire” this “old-fashioned and traditional restaurant” is, say fans, “always a delight” and backed up by a heavyweight wine list too. Caveats? – “while the food is above average, it’s not a show-stopper”, and the occasional cynic feels that “the setting is so idyllic it is understandable that they squeeze you for every penny”.
2. The Hind’s Head British, Traditional restaurant in Bray High Street - SL6
“Still a fabulous gastropub… even if prices are a little on the high side” – Heston Blumenthal’s “very relaxing” hostelry takes a bit more flak nowadays for being expensive, but for the most part remains very highly rated by the survey. “Classic, very English pub dishes are interpreted with creative flair” and “washed down with imaginative cocktails (and mocktails)” as well as good ales and wines.
3. Caldesi in Campagna Italian restaurant in Bray Old Mill Ln - SL6
There’s an “idyllic experience” to be had at Giancarlo & Katie Caldesi’s “outstanding Italian”, which was significantly spruced up two years back – especially out on the sunny patio come summer. Add in “impeccably charming service” and it makes a “delightful location for that ‘special meal’”.
4. The Vineyard at Stockcross British, Modern restaurant in Stockcross
“An extensive and esoteric wine list is the top reason to visit” Sir Peter Michael’s swish, California-style property: “a real experience, which begins when the automatic doors open, and you enter a haven of calm, efficiency and luxury”. The wine-pairings provide some “brilliant matchings (although some are seriously expensive)” to the cuisine itself, which is perhaps not as memorable as the cellar, but was slightly more highly rated this year – perhaps a good sign for Tom Scade who succeeded Robby Jenks at the stoves here just as our annual survey was getting underway.
5. The Dining Room at Cliveden International restaurant in Taplow Cliveden Rd - SL6
After the departure of André Garrett as executive head chef from this landmark destination in October 2018 (for London’s Corinthia Hotel), former head chef Paul O’Neill was promoted to take his place. This “beautiful” property has received up-and-down feedback over the years, and variability was also evident in this year’s reports: numerous “wonderful” meals are described, but there are also experiences of “slow service” and food that’s “overly grand but underwhelmingly prepared… especially at these prices!” The most consistent hit is afternoon tea in the grand hall – “exceptional” (not least “the world’s best scones”).
6. Waterside Inn French restaurant in Bray Ferry Rd - SL6
“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…)
7. The Crown French restaurant in Maidenhead Burchetts Green - SL6
Simon Bonwick’s acclaimed 20-seater pub is a family-run venture where often all front of house are from the clan: a feature whose “impact is clear from the moment you enter, with the warm and friendly greeting, followed through in terms of attentive service and an atmosphere more like a cosy home than a restaurant”. The cuisine takes a classic gastronomic approach, with “a short and punchy menu providing four or five options each for starter, main and dessert”. Results are splendid, and even those who feel it’s “a touch on the pricey side (with mains around £30)” feel “it’s money better spent than other poor meals for half the cost”.
8. Henry & Joe's British, Modern restaurant in Newbury 17 Cheap Street - RG14
“A wonderful find in the centre of Newbury”: local lads Henry and Joe’s “small but perfectly formed gem” (22 covers) has been open a couple of years now and is winning renown for its “incredible value and great food”. “Passionately run” by this “former head chef and head waiter from the Woodspeen” they “started it as a pop-up and it grew from there”: “the open kitchen runs like clockwork”, service from Joe is “very personalised” and results – either from the à la carte or (if you push the boat out) the seven-course taster menu for £75 – are “truly stunning: every element of each dish is well thought out and blissful flavours dance around in the mouth”.
9. L’Ortolan French restaurant in Shinfield Church Ln - RG2
“This beautiful house on the outskirts of Reading is still a favourite for a special meal” – an impressive old vicarage that many reporters are lucky enough to visit regularly. “Chef Tom Clarke has made this restaurant his own” and there’s a feeling of “relaxed attention to detail at all levels, with warm and friendly staff, plus beautifully judged cooking”. The “wonderful tasting menu” features in many reports, as does the “fantastic chef’s table”: “when you see the kitchen, it’s like a well-oiled machine”.
10. The Royal Oak British, Modern restaurant in Littlefield Green Paley Street - SL6
“The epitome of the dining pub” – broadcaster Michael and his son Nick Parkinson’s gastroboozer “combines the informality of a genuine working pub with the elegance and comfort of a high-class restaurant”. The “delicious, unpretentious food is meticulously prepared and presented”, and there’s a “fantastic list of interesting wines from around the world”.
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