This is a restaurant that I’ve wanted to visit for many years. Somehow I persuaded Mr C that we must have lunch there on a visit to Windsor and Surrey in October 2013.
Originally opened in 1972 by brothers Michele and Albert Roux it has retained the accolade of Three Michelin stars for over 25 years. There are only four restaurants currently in the UK which have Three Michelin Stars.
The brothers turned a traditional English pub in the Berkshire village of Bray into an elegant restaurant and cocktail bar. In 1986 the Rouxs decided to separate their business interests, Michel Roux chose to keep The Waterside Inn and Albert Roux Le Gavroche in central London. These restaurants have now been passed onto their sons, the next generation of Roux chefs, Alain Roux and his cousin Michel Roux Jnr.
So much culinary history has been created by the Roux family and it’s lovely to see these legacies continue to thrive and provide food and service at the same high standards maintained by Michel and Albert Roux for so many years.
On arrival our car was whisked away by the valet. We were almost an hour early for our booking but that was no problem, we had the choice of having a pre lunch drink in the bar or being seated at our table straight away.
We chose to go straight to our table… wow… one of those moments when your heart stops beating… we were led through the elegant restaurant to a table right in the window overlooking the Thames. If you’re going to dine in style, this table was the perfect setting, table two.
Our meal started with homemade bread and canapes. Such amazing mouthfuls of flavour and the foie gras was a first for Mr C and he couldn’t believe the texture, how buttery and smooth it was, just melting in your mouth. The quails eggs were cooked to perfection, still runny and the olive stick was delicious.
I loved the simplicity of the crockery, everything in the room complemented each other. This was dining on another level, every attention to detail had been made but in a relaxed and almost effortless way. I love the way that your water glass never seems to go down, such is the service by the serving staff. We also enjoyed fruit cocktails from the bar which were very tasty.
We chose the three course Menu Gastronomique which had a choice of two meals for each course, we’re getting well trained now and know to choose the opposite to each other. Mr C chose the Carpaccio de filet de chevreuil parfume aux baies de genievre, girolles en pickles et airelles (Carpaccio of venison loin flavoured with juniper berries, pickled girolle mushrooms and cranberries) and my choice was the Veloute de legumes racines garni de betterave parfumee a la truffle (Root vegetables volute garnished with beetroot and black truffle).
The venison melted in your mouth and the girolles were like tiny bombs of flavour. As for the veloute it was absolutely divine and the flavours were just amazing. I loved how the serving staff poured the veloute around the tiny island of beetroot.
The main courses were Filet de lieu jaune poele et fondue de poireaux aux moules, sauce safranee (pan fried fillet of pollack served with simmered leeks and mussels, saffron sauce) which I chose. Mr C chose the Supreme de perdreau en crepinette roti,subric de potiron et champignons sauvages enrobes d’epinards, sauce poivrade (Roasted breast of partridge wrapped in game farce, parcel of wild mushrooms and spinach, pumpkin subric and poivrade sauce).
Anyone who knows me will be starting to wonder how I can possibly eat in a Michelin star restaurant when I’m usually so fussy with food… I think the quality of the food speaks for itself and even I have to occasionally give in and try things never tried before! I’m getting used to mussels and fish, in fact I’m sort of falling in love with fish at the moment which is quite a revelation! I also found that the partridge tasted amazing and the venison carpaccio really was out of this world.
So dessert, a hard choice and if I was eating off the a la carte menu I would have chosen the souffle but both desserts on the menu sounded delicious so again we chose one each.
Mr C chose the very colourful Vacherin flace au parait de citron vert, sorbet a la mangue (vacherin with a lime iced parfait and mango sorbet) and I chose the Figue roties aux mures et porto rouge, mouse legere a la citronella (Roasted figs with blackberried and ruby port served with a light lemongrass mousse). I loved the blue sugar circle, it looked like it was wire, so clever and so delicate.
Cafe et mignardises (coffee and petite fours) was included as part of the lunch menu.
How pretty and so very, very tasty… we’re getting good at sharing so chose a couple that we wanted to ourselves and managed to just about share the rest.
The coffee was perfect, not quite espresso but rich and dark, the perfect finish to a wonderful meal. Mr C started to get accustomed to having his tea poured from the teapot every time his cup started to empty.
The staff were all lovely, very attentive but without being intrusive. They took an interest in you as guests, wanting to know what special occasion had brought you there, how you were enjoying your food. You can tell that they all love working there, a good restaurant needs passion from it’s staff as well as it’s chef.
The toilets were decorated in a lovely way and I really liked the cross stitch on the wall of one of the ladies toilets. Lovely thick paper hand towels and flannels along with high quality hand soap and moisturiser.
A couple of hours had passed without us even realising. Sitting there watching the Thames go by had been a perfect afternoon, the river is a busy place, boats of all shapes and sizes, ducks, moorhens and swans with the lovely garden furniture set up ready for those wanting the brave the cooler air of an October afternoon, if I’d have had a coat with me I would have been tempted!
The lunch set menu includes service and VAT so no scary extras at the end of the meal. I also loved the slight secrecy about the menu costs, I didn’t know until afterwards that Mr C’s menu had no prices on… the table was booked in my name!
The village of Bray has become a mecca for foodies with two of the four top Michelin starred restaurants in the UK within quarter of a mile of each other, The Waterside Inn and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duch. Heston Blumenthal also owns the one star Hinds Head and the currently un-starred Crown. There is also the Royal Oak which is the one star restaurant of Nick Parkinson and Dom Chapman. All in one tiny Royal Berkshire village.
I would highly recommend The Waterside Inn in Bray. For a special occasion or just because you can, remember life is for living!
For more information their website is http://www.waterside-inn.co.uk/
THE WATERSIDE INN | FERRY ROAD | BRAY | BERKSHIRE | SL6 2AT | TEL:+44 (0)1628 620691 | RESERVATIONS@WATERSIDE-INN.CO.UK
I have not been asked or paid to write this review, all words and thoughts are my own.