It is, alas, my fault that we are neglecting Bray. Not only Bray either, but also Wem - home of the sweet pea, and Bigbury-on-Sea with the fantastic Pilchard Inn.
Rest assured, we’re working on it. It will take a few weeks.
We took advantage of their Signature Promotion to stay overnight and experience the “Menu Exceptionnel”, half a bottle of champagne, French continental breakfast; a selection of Roux goodies and a personally signed copy of one of Michel Roux’s books.
The whole package was very well executed. We were met in the road as we arrived in the car and helped with our bags and the car was removed and parked for us. The superior room was very nice, a good size with a nice bathroom and a large (shared) balcony with a river view. Down the hall was a small kitchen with tea, coffee and cold drinks available. The one time I tried to use it I was joined by 2 members of staff who offered to help.
The “Menu Exceptionnel” is a tasting menu with 7 courses plus Amuse Bouche and sorbet. Each of the courses is small, but beautifully flavoured and presented (see pictures). We had the occasional dispute over some of the value of some of the ingredients, like the carrot jelly in the “Flaked Devon crab and marinated seabass served on a delicate carrot jelly lightly infused with ginger, Oscietra Royal Belgian caviar”, but they were all minor points and the food, and presentation were excellent.
A neighbouring table was having a rare treat: Canard à la Presse where duck is cooked and the breast meat sliced and removed. The duck carcass is then crushed in an ornate press at the table to remove the juices and these are made into a sauce with cognac, butter and other ingredients. It was interesting and impressive to see such an ornate dish being prepared at the table.
The service throughout was excellent. Staff had the knack of slipping in and sorting things out without you realising. Drinks were topped up, used crockery and empty glasses were removed quietly and efficiently.
The breakfast the next morning is a very well prepared French Breakfast served in the room. Different breads and croissants are served with fruit juices, jams, yoghurt and fruit compote: a very relaxing and satisfying start to the day.
The cost of a meal here is very high: it would probably be difficult to eat off the a la carte menu for less than £100 each. The wine list is extensive, several hundred wines, and expensive: few bottles are available at under £100, but these do match the cost of the meal. On the other hand the standard of food and wine available is amongst the best anywhere and The Waterside Inn is a wonderful place to enjoy a very special occasion. Highly recommended.
For photos see Greedy Diva @ http://greedydiva.blogspot.com/2011/01/waterside-inn-bray...
For my birthday last week, TPG and I took a turn at The Waterside Inn, in the quaint 16th century village of Bray.
Bray is quite the hub for Michelin stars it seems. The Waterside Inn is only one of 4 restaurants in the UK to hold 3 of them (it's held them firmly for 25 years) - another, The Fat Duck, is just down the road. While Heston Blumenthal's gaff is all about pushing the boundaries of modern cuisine, Alain Roux's elegant French restaurant focusses on perfecting the classics. Boring? Quite the opposite. I think it's the all round best meal I had in 2010.
Set on the banks of the Thames, a long lunch was a first class way to enjoy the sunlit, genteel setting, riverside views and the simply wonderful food and service. It's nose bleedingly expensive but, based on the a la carte prices (a cup of coffee costs you £12 so you get the drift), the 6 course tasting menu is the better value way to go at £140 (including service and coffee) - it includes starters priced at upwards of £50 on the a la carte menu. There's also a 3 course menu gastronomique for £56.50, which I'll be going back for.
After a lovely selection of amuses bouche (I particularly liked a pretty dome of creamy foie gras), we start with a smooth parmesan cream, pink fir apple potato topped with truffle and served with an almond pastry straw. It's elegant and light, despite the luxurious creamy "truffleyness" of it all.
Warm escalopes of silky foie gras follow with cardamom, glazed root vegetables, verjuice and sultana sauce. I normally see the word "sultana" and burst into tears (eg. why ruin a good scone etc.). However, it appears that if you pop a bit of foie gras beneath them, I can handle a sultana with ease. Again, a dish so rich, but so well balanced.
Pan fried lobster medallions with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable julienne were a marvel - the meat is sweet and prepared perfectly (there's no chewiness in sight) and then served back inside the shell to beautiful effect.
For mains, a choice. TPG's roasted Challandais duck was served with slices of poached quince, soft, creamy polenta, chestnuts (I'm addicted at the moment) and a cider flavoured sauce. When 2 people order this, it is carved at the side of the table where lavish slices of duck are splayed across the plates. Highly recommended if you're both up for it. Being picky, the only criticism that could be made of TPG's plate was that the meat was a fraction chewy, but it had a fabulous flavour - still the best bit of duck we've had for an age.
I opted for the duo of seasonal game (partridge and venison) with a pumpkin subric, parcel of wild mushrooms and spinach and poivrade sauce. It was the best piece of partridge I've ever had and the venison was succulent and pink. I worried over this one as I knew the duck would be good, but my game was at least its equal on the table.
Our first dessert was a teardrop of milk chocolate mousse flavoured with caramel, mango and passionfruit and accompanied by a mango sorbet. The chocolate mousse was divine. DIVINE. It's light but with the right amount of richness and chocolate. The mango worked so much better than I expected (I don't usually go fruit with chocolate) and it was all done so well that I still didn't want this meal to end.
A warm date souffle is flavoured with cognac and comes with coffee ice cream. The flavours are extremely subtle, but the souffle is cooked perfectly and is as scrumptious as it sounds.
We finish with mint tea, coffee and lovely mignardises.
Service was excellent, and not overly fussy. Our sommelier was also terrific - we shared bottles of white and red, both of which we loved (although I've since lost track of the details).
If you have a special occassion coming up and are looking for one fine dining restaurant in which to have a splurge, this is certainly a place I'd heartily recommend. The Waterside Inn feels really special.
This was easily one of my best meals of the year.
We went here for our anniversary lunch and I must say that I was impressed with the service. It seemed like there are a swarm of waiters to cater for your every need!
It is your old school style restaurant, so prices for the gentleman only! - and this is definitely batting at the high end of dining at around £56 quid per person for the simpler menu, double that for the taster menu, a la carte menu was a varying range. However I don't mind paying if the food and service is exquisite- which I would say was almost there. The only slight disappointment that I had was they didn't take into account my wife was pregnant and despite a few reminders, some of the food came out undercooked to what was required.
Don't let this put you off. It was a genuinely pleasant experience with good food, a picturesque setting with charming river views and your every whim taken care of.
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I am writing this review as a vegetarian and I can say hand on heart that this has been the 'best’ restaurant I have ever dined in! Of course the service and the location were perfect. However it is a rare treat as a vegetarian ( no meat or fish ) to be presented with such a variety of colorful and appetizing dishes. I was lucky enough to be invited to a five course dining experience with no expense spared, and for the first time ever I actually felt like being a 'vegetarian’ was more than just providing a kind 'after thought’ dish, a secondary effort to the meat eater companions. On this occasion I actually felt like the star guest at the table was me! Not only were my dishes imaginative , delicious and colorful ( for example the french version of an asparagus green bean medley! apologies for not bringing home the menu.. ) but each plate was filled with such an abundance of taste and texture that for once the meat eaters looked on with envy at the vegetarian!
Went there for a long lunch and thoroughly enjoyed it. Maidendead rail & taxi £8 each way. Genuinely welcoming service without being over egged and of course a pleasant attractive dining room. (I have also eaten in the private room and it is also very comfortable). Had Gaspacho with ravioli, served with Gewurtz, splendid. Salmon (fish is a little undercooked IMHO you could ask) with an excellent white burgundy St. Romaine. Roast beef beautifully done (specifically as I requested it) and & rather nice Bergerac. Peach & Montbazilliac to finish. Ho hum.
First of all, it’s not in Maidenhead, it’s in Bray, but Qype - in its infinite wisdom - has decided that “Bray” doesn’t exist. Note to administrator: don’t make me come over there and sort this problem out for you. Because a) I’m grumpy and b) I can’t. I’m not very technical. Be warned.
Bray being something of a culinary Mecca - it’s also home to Mr Blumenthal’s celebrated Fat Duck - it’s full of thick-set middle-class people in wellies and Land Rovers. Vom-worthy, let me assure you. Still, it’s pretty as a picture in petticoats, and the sort of place that, were I nobbut 10 years older, would be planning to live in. If I could afford the defence budget that I’m sure a 2-bedroom cottage costs around there.
The Waterside Inn is Michel Roux’s restaurant, and very sweet and charming it is too. If you can possibly get a seat overlooking the river, do. The Thames may look like a toxic dump if you’re looking at it from Tower Bridge, but out here it’s rather lovely.
I should preface the foodie bit by saying that we went for Sunday lunch, and - for all I know - the a la carte dinner menu is a joyous romp through the 5 senses. Prix fixe on Sunday, though, was… well, rather disappointing. 2 choices for starter. 2 for main. 2 for dessert, or the usual supplement for the cheese board. And, in all honesty, it was all rather bland. I was the only one on my table of 6 to go for the halibut for the main, and how smug I felt. Everyone else’s lamb looked - and apparently, was - pretty insipid. Starters were perfectly adequate, which is certainly not what I expect from a gastronome of Mr Roux’s reputation. Even his brief appearance after the meal to tour the room and politely enquire about everyone’s lunch didn’t do much to persuade me that this was a bit of a culinary non-event. Being English, none of us quite managed the cojones to tell him that his stellar reputation counted for naught when lunch’s highlight had been the cheese. Still, we made our feelings clear by grunting and meeting his eye with a certain sullenness. That’ll show him. Tch. The French, eh?
In all seriousness, it’s a gorgeous spot and I’ve no doubt that an a la carte dinner would be a much better way to experience the Roux school of cooking, even if (I’m guessing) that would double the cost of what was a reasonably pricey meal in the first place. Still, the service was exemplary - when I ran out of cigarettes and it turned out that not a newsagent was to be found, the staff found me one and literally presented it to me on a silver platter - and the area’s deeply cute, as our transatlantic cousins would have it. Go if you like, but don’t blame me if the lamb’s a bit dodgy.
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