SquareMeal Review of
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.