It may have Michelin-starred status and celebrity owners (Sir Michael Parkinson and his son Nick), but this Berkshire village pub couldn’t be more unassuming. It has been put on the culinary map by chef Dominic Chapman, whose sturdy food chimes well with the quality ingredients that make up his seasonal menu. Starters such as pickled Cornish herrings with beetroot, horseradish and watercress set the tone, and high standards are maintained when it comes to main courses of peppered wild Berkshire venison with sauce poivrade or sea bass with samphire, cockles and mussels – this is cooking that holds nothing back. Desserts provide a truly memorable finale, whether it’s Yorkshire rhubarb trifle or a soufflé of raspberries. A new extension, opened at the end of 2012, has added more space and more tables – although the Oak has lost none of its classily bucolic feel.
This 17th-century pub got a Michelin star three years ago, and the 50-or-so Champagnes on its list suggest it’s rather more restaurant than it is pub. Nonetheless, the range of quality Rhônes, Burgundies and, particularly, clarets (a lot of good second, third and fourth growths) is impressive. The Sommelier’s Selection is also a nice touch.