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Ferry Road, Bray
Its picture-book riverbank location may look and feel as English as The Wind in the Willows, but everything else at the three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn speaks of top-end French gastronomy with a real sense of occasion – the culinary equivalent of haute couture. It’s all about silky sophistication and Gallic polish here, from the sumptuous furnishings and punctilious professionalism of the “impeccable” staff to the intricacies of the “perfectly executed” cooking. Expect a cavalcade of masterstrokes with that unmistakable Roux thumbprint: teasing amuse-bouches such as venison tartare on potato and whipped goats’ cheese; flaked Devon crab with ginger-scented cucumber jelly and oscietra caviar; fillet of turbot roasted in nut-brown butter with root vegetables, morels and vin jaune sauce; grilled pigeon breasts and crispy leg served with sweet pepper pipérade, potato terrine and ‘devil sauce’. After that, a cleansing granita sets things up for some truly astonishing showpiece desserts – perhaps chocolate cannelé with hazelnut praline and lime. “Everything par excellence”, drools an admirer. The wine list delves deep into the archives of French oenology and prices are scary, yet the sheer joy of dining at this serene stronghold of subtly reinvented haute cuisine is unsurpassed: “it’s hard to find a poor place to eat in Bray, but every visit feels incredibly special”, quips one admirer.
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Ferry Road, Bray
Maidenhead Station 1km
Taplow Station 1km
Braywick Golf Club 1km
Maidenhead Golf Club 1km
Wed-Sat 12N-2pm 7-10pm Sun 12N-2.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
In a way it is almost like stepping back into the old world of classic French dining with an atmosphere and service to match when you treat yourself to dinner at The Waterside with its super riverside setting. At first glance the menu appears familiar and conventional, but in fact a good deal of updating has taken place in the presentation and the combination of ingredients, as exemplified by the introductory plates, which were far from simple canapés: goat’s cheese and asparagus mousse with Campari and grapefruit jelly and salmon roe, followed by olive palmiers, an outstanding hot smoked eel and apple mousse, and a jokey ‘pork pie’. The assembly of flaked crab influenced by the effect of a ginger scented cucumber jelly and oscietra caviar showed how standards can be upheld, and a second inspired entrée mixed and matched foie gras, capers, bean sprouts and terrific caramelised orange - à la grenobloise maybe but entirely modern. The fish dish was probably the standout for us - superb turbot with a hint of marjoram and its beurre noisette, parsley sauce, swede and root vegetables, excellent morels, and an exemplary vin jaune. The pigeon breast main course took things down a peg for us as it seemed rather underseasoned, although it has to be said that the sauce diable was devilishly good, as was the barbajuan with the bird. A basil sorbet with mango espuma led us into the first dessert - delicious cannelé with hazelnut praline and citron vert at its centre. A good old soufflé, rhubarb this time, enhanced with raspberries, finished things off, a perfect example properly coming away from the sides of the dish without collapsing and literally melting in the mouth. With a wine flight of high quality, we can only say that for once a three star rating is deserved.
Food + drink: 5
The dining room seemed more modern and welcoming, and we were happy to find ourselves at a table with a good view of the river without being right next to the window. The staff seemed brighter and more professional than on our previous visit, and all was set for a three-star meal. Our tasting menu was indeed the epitome of classical French cuisine with apposite modern touches and it was accompanied by a wine flight of suitable quality. Three lovely teasers comprising delicate lobster with marie-rose sauce, wonderful venison tartare on potato and whipped goat’s cheese on the signature light-as-a-feather sablé preceded the amuse bouche proper, a trompette de la mort omelette with spinach, hazelnuts, lamb’s lettuce in a spectacular dressing, parmesan crisp and pear slices - a dish that was relatively small in quantity but big on flavour. Then came one of the best plates of the evening, a salad with a very decent portion of delicious native lobster, a very up-to-date beetroot gel, rocket leaves and crème fraiche seasoned with ossetra caviar, the different elements each making for a terrific balance of flavour. Another masterpiece followed, pheasant velouté with super diced foie gras and sweetcorn, the taste sensations being finished off with some confit pheasant for a worthy tribute to the game season. Something of a sense of humour in the kitchen then manifested itself, although perhaps Fabrice Uhryn, the head chef, was paying homage to his homeland with a classy variation on fish and chips in the form of turbot à la meunière with cheeky deep-fried croutons and green beans, almonds and a grape emulsion. We stayed with the more obviously game choice for the main course, which was an absolute picture - roasted loin of venison in a pastry crust, aka venison Wellington, broccoli florets, wild mushrooms, a fabulous Hermitage sauce with blackcurrant vinegar, and last but certainly not least a taste and texture contrast with chicken mousse in pastry as a sort of lieutenant to Wellington. The intermediate dish, a cider granita with fig mousse and orange, did the job perfectly as an introduction to the first dessert which provided a good texture contrast, the creamy yoghurt, fresh and slightly tart raspberries, lime marshmallow and yoghurt ice cream bouncing off each other then melding beautifully on the palate. The meal was completed with a mirabelle soufflé, quite nice but perhaps the least convincing of the barrage of taste bombs. As usual the petits fours were first-class, and amidst the welter of three-star criticism it was clear that The Waterside stands above it all.
Food + drink: 3
In a three-star restaurant you would expect perfection in every respect, and this had been our experience on previous visits to The Waterside. Unfortunately this evening did not come up to our high expectations and we found ourselves questioning the various elements that contributed to this feeling of disappointment. Was it the fact that we were seated in the narrower part of the room just opposite the point of service where all the dishes were brought in from the kitchen and where we were aware of some of the numerous junior staff being too obviously instructed and corrected? Was it because some of the staff seemed less at ease and lacked any ability to communicate with the diners? Had the usually impeccable Diego failed to do his homework when he failed to acknowledge our return visit, something he did without fail before? Had we had occasion before to criticise any dish on the Menu Exceptionnel or wonder about the comparative quality of the wine flight which accompanied it? The meal started off well enough with lovely canapés, comprising caramelised pork belly pieces, a surprisingly successful match of salmon and beetroot in a smooth mousse, and whipped goat's cheese on beautifully light sablé. These were followed by what seemed to be almost a pre-entrée special with a very successful roquefort, artichoke, pear jelly and frisée combination. The first dish proper was a bit of a puzzle - ceviche of seabass and sliced octopus in a passion fruit jus, the latter far too strong for the fish but not the octopus, together with an ordinary green salad and some surprisingly large and crunchy grains of salt which also affected the overall taste. Definitely ho-hum. We were amused to find that we had enjoyed a very similar dish to the next course in a hotel in the Cotswolds just a few weeks before and we had to admit that this was even better - an epic warm escalope of foie gras with amazing gingerbread, quince compote and mulled wine sauce. Pike often gets bad reviews, but we have been in favour of it ever since we had it as the signature dish in a Paris restaurant, and this perfect soft and tasty quenelle was served with some brilliant langoustine tails which had us smiling with pleasure. There was a choice to be made for the main course and we opted for the "duo of seasonal game", basically a partridge breast rolled and wrapped in a thick coating of partridge mince along with soft and tasty venison, a mushtoom and spinach parcel, some hispi and a poivrade; however, the standout element of this dish was a superb pumpkin subric, which begged the question should the minor outshine the major? Our palates were then properly cleansed by a magic match of tequila and lime sorbet with raspberries, which set us up for first dessert of coconut meringue with pineapple and a pomegranate sorbet and mint leaf. For me the pineapple overpowered the coconut but the sorbet was good. We finished on a better note, though, the warm orange soufflé with firm strips of orange peel and properly slightly sharp lingonberries being a classic. While the balance of overall appreciation was then tilted back again towards good by the top-class petits fours, the number of question marks meant that we were less impressed than on previous occasions.
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