L'Ortolan 22

Church Lane, Shinfield , Reading, RG2 9BY

1 reviews

50 French Berkshire

  • L Ortolan restaurant bar Berkshire
  • L Ortolan restaurant bar Berkshire
  • L Ortolan restaurant bar Berkshire
  • L Ortolan restaurant bar Berkshire
  • L Ortolan restaurant bar Berkshire

SquareMeal Review of L'Ortolan

A “quintessential smart country-house restaurant”, this Grade II-listed vicarage has played host to some of the UK’s top chefs over the years (Nico Ladenis, John Burton-Race, Alan Murchison etc), and it now has a new wunderkind in the shape of Tom Clarke. Like his predecessors, the current incumbent brings high levels of Michelin-starred sophistication to proceedings, creating wonderfully honed flavours from a larder of seasonal ingredients – think a ‘cushion’ of halibut with Arborio rice cooked in red wine, sticky oxtail and marrowbone butte, glazed duck breast with apricot and lavender or pan-fried stone bass with soft-shell crab and yuzu. The cheese trolley is a treasure-trove of ripeness, while desserts might offer clementines with ‘Pocky Sticks’ and sabayon or a croustade of charcoal pastry, winter pumpkins and flavours of coffee. Set lunches are a bargain for the blue-blooded Berkshire set, and the auspicious wine list is notable for its impressive selection of organic/biodynamic bottles. The building may not look much from the outside, but the chocolate tones of the interior give out a soothing warmth and notable private rooms also catch the eye. 

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8.0

Food & Drink: 10.0

Service: 9.0

Atmosphere: 8.0

Value: 9.0

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Foodess platinum reviewer 08 July 2009

Symphonic food experience courtesy of the sous chef, now responsible here, surprised us. Not only was it impeccably and prettily presented, but tastes were sublime, something Alan Murchison (now the Exec. Chef) previously didn’t quite manage. Compatibility of ingredients pervaded both starter and main course – we didn’t manage desserts. A symmetrical sheet of duck confit topped with cherry sorbet, pan fried foie gras, whole cherries, plus a couple of smoked duck slices very agreeably kicked things off for us both….not that amuse bouche and breads didn't please. Brill served on a slab of ham hock with white beans, peas, a deep green & light green puree, figure as one of the most flavourful fish mains I’ve had. Veal was terrific too augmented well by summer veg. [£55/head 3 courses.] Internationally balanced wine list, but few very reasonably priced, though good selection by the glass. We were fortunate to have an excellent Pomerol at £60. Service generally a bit on the starchy side, but I learnt from the passionate sommelier why this wine (apparently lost some weight through sediment) suited me more so than my other half who favours the serious heavies – news to me but sounds feasible. This country restaurant gets away with a formal – kind of plush interior, which is a bit OTT and rather 90’s – because you feel comfortably seated with ample breathing space. I feel privileged to have eaten the chef’s efforts, given the superb standard of our last meal nr. Leamington Spa which I didn’t expect to be equalled so soon. Enough to evoke a strong desire to return.

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