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|Address:||Boulters Lock Island, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 8PE|
|Opening Hours:||Tue-Sun 12-3pm, Tue-Sat 7-10pm|
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Who would have thought urban chic meets leafy Thames Valley setting – someone in Berkshire has been brave enough to have a go. Parking was challenging even at 6.30p.m., so when this Bar/Restaurant is full, restricted parking space must mean that even the most inventive drivers leave the island in search of a parking spot, then walk back across the hump of a single-file bridge. Someone has sunk serious money here which such a fabulous spot should be able to bear in what has to be the prettiest part of Maidenhead.
Split level design at ground level ensures that even diners at the rear of the room have a riverside view enclosed by glass balustrades which mirror the architectural glass window styling. Views from the first floor bar and balcony must be even better. Minimal décor is ‘beigey’ with ubiquitous wooden floor and similarly hued seating, but this ensures not to detract from the view. Wooden tables are set out comfortably with neat and simple place settings.
I fleetingly wondered taking first glance at the menu whether we’d been given one from a different season, seeing the heart-warming dish of daube of beef cheek with mash, but no, it was mid summer and I heard someone order it. Reading on I could see it was reasonably well thought out : beetroot salad and gribiche sauce, marinated tomatoes with basil panacotta, the omnipresent meat terrine (chicken & ham hock), carpaccio of beef with horseradish sauce or pea risotto and scallops or mackerel escabeche. I plumped for seasonal tomatoes and my partner opted for the risotto. A simple, colourful salad of well-marinated tomato varieties with pea shoots matched splendidly by heavily scented basil panacotta and a scattering of home-made crisps. Risotto was rich and very cheesy, but surprisingly didn’t quite overpower the seared scallops. Contentment welcomingly drifted over us both. We declined bread, but it arrived anyway after we’d finished our starter, but just in time for me to mop up the potent tomotatoey marinade juices.
After a promising launch, came rib-eye (offered with choice of classic sauces such as bordelaise or béarnaise plus others) and my man chose the peppercorn, which he said hadn’t been shown enough heat to temper it, but the steak itself was cooked to order, of acceptable quality with some OK chips, and all good enough to be washed down with some Valpolicella. I had been eyeing chicken (boring maybe – but the appeal was the wild mushroom sauce and creamed leek macaroni); samphire always tempts put here alongside sea-bream and Antiboise sauce (a coriander adulterated version of vierge, so I discovered). Whole plaice with caper beurre blanc may well have done the trick, but when turbot was announced as the ‘Special’ that’s what I chose. I seriously doubted the concoction in my mind but took the risk…….served with risotto, cabbage, pea puree and a sauce (including foie gras but undetectable and probably fortuitously so). All competently cooked, but proved to be a few too many ingredients which didn’t allow the turbot to shine – all flavours were good but two dishes were actually on the one plate. Chef would have done better to ditch the pea puree or scatter some peas through the finely shredded cabbage or the risotto and not served both on the same plate. Nevertheless I ate all except the creamy pea puree helped along by a cool Fleurie.
Not sure when they opened, but some staff training was on-going and one individual needed significant guidance. However, all were polite and apologetic for even the most minor mistake, so it’s certainly worth a 2 minute detour off the A4 if only for brunch or straightforward meal in the bar.