The enchanting riverbank setting is as English as Miss Marple, although this sumptuously furnished, cosseting dining room is in the business of providing the trappings for Alain Roux’s subtly inventive take on classic French haute cuisine. The Waterside Inn has been around since 1972, held three Michelin stars for half that time and is now considered something of a national institution – delivering a luxury experience with consummate expertise and “genuine charm”, thanks to legions of impeccable staff. Pan-fried lobster medallions with a white port sauce and ginger-flavoured vegetable julienne is precision cooking of the highest order, fillet of Angus beef ‘marchand de vin’ style (served with barigoule baby artichokes, marrow, wasabi-tinged potato mousseline and red wine sauce) is all deep flavours and glossy saucing. Desserts crown it all in the shape of, say, an incredible rose-flavoured macaron with iced lychee-liqueur parfait and lingonberry coulis. The wine list delves deep into lexicon of French oenology and prices are frightening – even so, it’s worth smashing the piggy bank because this is “le restaurant exceptionnel”.