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Church Lane, Shinfield
The very model of a 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 “beautiful plates” and wonderfully honed flavours from a larder of seasonal ingredients – think goose liver parfait with gingerbread and rhubarb, loin of hogget with sweetbreads and asparagus or poached loin of cod with oyster and coriander. The cheese trolley is a treasure-trove of ripeness, while desserts might offer a ‘toffee apple’ riff involving apple parfait, caramel and pecans. Well-drilled service depends on “amazing teamwork”, set lunches are a bargain for the blue-blooded Berkshire set, and the patrician 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.
SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
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Church Lane, Shinfield
Earley Station 4km
Reading West Station 5km
M4 Junction 11 983m
Reading Park & Ride, Madejski Stadium 2km
Tue-Sat 12N-2pm Tues-Sat 7-9pm (Fri-Sat -9.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
This certainly was a fabulous evening and a delightful way to start our Anniversary Celebration week. The restaurant is set in a lovely quiet location near Reading.and you certainly get a good feel as you enter the grounds as the building looks stunning. We had a warm and friendly greeting on arrival and was asked if we would like to have a drink in the bar or outside on the patio. Due to it being a lovely evening we opted for a drink outside. While enjoying our Gin & Tonic's and a delightful snack you are presented with the menus to browse through. There were two choices of menu to choose from the 7 course Gourmand menu or the one we decided to choose the 10 course Discovery menu. The next thing to choose is the wine but with help from the sommelier who was very helpful in assisting you with your decision and was very good throughout the evening . Their reason for doing it this way I felt was quite a nice idea so when you're seated at the table everything is ready for you to start enjoying your evening. Our table was in the conservatory which was nice and cool and overlooked the patio and garden.So now to our first dish which was very interesting indeed consisting of Carrot pressing , mustard & tarragon with on top of the carrot was Herring ice cream which in fact was delicious and went perfectly with the carrot. We then moved onto a heavenly Confit Trout , elderflower & cucumber before enjoying a stunning Beef Tartare , Charcoal & a Confit Yolk I have to the first three courses were an absolute delight and we were definitely not disappointed with what was to follow starting with a fantastic Lobster Ravioli , Citrus Fruits & Crab Bisque. Our next dish was the main course a Roast Quail Breast , Sweetcorn & Truffle and matched perfectly with the wine highlight of the evening a beautiful ChatteauNeuf Du Pape. It was then time for a Cheese course with a difference consisting of Confit Tomato , Burrata & Watermelon with a Basil Dressing which was delightful and so refreshing Now it was time for desserts and to my delight there were two with the first being Apricot , Pecan & Skyr this really was heavenly but even more so was the Dark Chocolate Pave , Banana & Lime a truly fantastic way to finish We then had a coffee and a lovely after dinner cocktail in the comfort of the the bar with some Petit Fours. This rounded of a marvellous evening and we were so glad we made the trip from east to west. I would highly recommend a visit as the food is stunning the service is very professional and friendly all this in a beautiful building with lovely grounds
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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