British, Modern Restaurants in Berkshire
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 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 last year – perhaps a good sign for Tom Scade who succeeded Robby Jenks at the stoves here just as our annual survey was getting underway.
3. Bottle and Glass Inn British, Modern restaurant in Binfield Heath Bones Lane - RG9
A “lovely” thatched pub serving a “short but excellent menu” of food “up to the standards of a London restaurant” – owners Alex Sergeant and David Holloway, graduates of stellar Fulham gastroboozer the Harwood Arms, have put their know-how to excellent effect in south Oxfordshire. “It manages to retain the atmosphere of a village pub while offering very high-quality dining” – “locals still use it for a drink”. Two years down the track, the pair have opened their second venue, Hart Street Tavern, in nearby Henley-on-Thames. Top Tip – “wonderful garden serving great pizzas from a huge pizza oven and drinks from a horsebox”.
4. 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 last 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”).
5. The Astor Grill British, Modern restaurant in Taplow Clivedon Road - SL6
2018 Review: Limited and mixed feedback on Cliveden’s one-year-old ‘dressed down’ option in the Stable Block. For fans it’s “a hidden gem”, tipped for either a “family lunch” or “business meal just off the M4”, but for foes “overpriced with rubbish service”.
6. The Loch & The Tyne British, Modern restaurant in Old Windsor 10 Crimp Hill - SL4
This new pub / restaurant-with-rooms from Adam Handling is aiming to be the most sustainable in the UK, with an eco-garden and orchard, solar panels and composting. "Sustainable British luxury" is the tagline; it will be run by his two chefs, Steven Kerr and Jonny McNeil, and is named after the two locations he met them in.
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. The Woodspeen British, Modern restaurant in Newbury Lambourn Rd - RG20
“Set in rural Berkshire with stunning views”, John Campbell’s accoladed venue “sounds like it should be a pub, but is in reality a skilled and soignée restaurant”: “thoughtfully designed”, with an “airy”, “modern” interior that “opens onto a large terrace”. “The cooking is very good” from an “interesting and changing menu” of “original yet reassuring dishes”, “beautifully presented, and skilfully and charmingly served”. Top Tip – “good for a sophisticated supper before the theatre at the nearby Watermill”.
10. Restaurant Coworth Park British, Modern restaurant in Ascot Blacknest Rd - SL5
For “elegance and luxury”, the Dorchester Collection’s spectacular mansion near Ascot, on a sizeable estate complete with polo pitches, certainly fits the bill. When it comes to the dining room and Adam Smith’s “first class cuisine”, “it’s maybe not the most creative, and would struggle to top the value-for-money rankings, but is certainly a safe bet for a fabulous meal”.
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