Gold Award

SquareMeal Review of L'Ortolan

Gold Award

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, such as Nico Ladenis, John Burton-Race, Alan Murchison and more.

The building may not look much from the outside, but the chocolate tones of the interior give out a soothing warmth, while notable private rooms also catch the eye for those looking to host a birthday meal or celebratory dinner – though the utter professionalism of the setting also makes L’Ortolan a good bet for romance, although it’s not exactly first-date material. 

The kitchen, as ever, brings high levels of sophistication to proceedings, creating “beautiful plates” and wonderfully honed flavours from a larder of impeccably sourced seasonal ingredients. Guests can choose to dine from the à la carte or the menu gourmand (a vegetarian option is also available), while those looking for the full experience can opt for the Discovery Menu – a surprise 10-course menu written up by the chefs daily.   

From the regular menu, dishes to try include torched mackerel with mango and wasabi, pan-fried bream with fregola salad and fennel, and aged duck breast with cherry and beetroot. Come dessert, you might find yourself digging into raspberry parfait with meringue and lemon, or cherry mousse with chocolate and pistachio. The cheese trolley meanwhile is a treasure-trove of ripeness for those of a savoury disposition, featuring a selection of British and French cheeses, and served alongside homemade raisin bread and biscuits.

We’re also fans of the well-drilled service which depends on “amazing teamwork” while L’Ortolan’s set lunch menus are a bargain for the blue-blooded Berkshire set. The patrician wine list is also notable for its impressive selection of organic and biodynamic bottles.  

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Fine dining, Luxury, Quiet conversation, Romantic, Widely spaced tables
Food Occasions
Dinner, Late night dining, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Special Features
Chef’s table, Gluten-free options, Vegan options, Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Birthdays, Celebrations, Dates, Group dining [8+], Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


Located in the quaint village of Shinfield, just a short drive from junction 11 of the M4, L’Ortolan is a sophisticated operation that is set within a Grade-II listed building. L’Ortolan serves a high-end, well-executed menu of contemporary French dishes and is widely accepted as one of the best restaurants in Reading.

The main dining room here is a smart and intimate space, which features just 11 tables. High back chairs, soft lighting and windows which allow natural light to flow through (as well as offering views of the manicured grounds) set a romantic mood, while extra character is added to the space via the works of well-established artists, such as Richard Rowan and Bob Barker, which hang from the dining room walls. It is hardly a surprise then that L’Ortolan is a popular spot for couples, particularly those with special anniversaries to celebrate.

The kitchen at L’Ortolan has been overseen by a number of Michelin star chefs over the years, but currently heading up the team is James Greatorex. The chef oversees a regularly changing menu of modern French fare, with a focus on getting the best out of good produce and working in harmony with the seasons. The restaurant is also able to accommodate for most dietary requirements if notified in advance and includes vegetarian options as part of its offering.

On your visit, you will be able to choose from an a la carte, or two multi-course tasting menus (‘Gourmand’ and ‘Elegance’). Dishes you might come across include the likes of Orkney scallop with celeriac broth, kohlrabi and radish or guinea fowl with chestnut, wild mushrooms and leeks. To round off your meal, you might tuck into a Mirabelle souffle or a selection of British and French cheeses.

To drink? Expect paired wines or innovative house cocktails.


Does L'Ortolan take bookings?

Yes, L'Ortolan takes reservations, we advise booking in advance.

Helpful? 0

What is L'Ortolan named after?

An Ortolan is a type of small bird, currently a protected species, it used to be a delicacy in France.

Helpful? 0

Can we take our food outside?

No, L'Ortolan does not allow food to be eaten or served outside.

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This venue also offers

Private Group Dining


Christmas Parties


Videos and 360 tours

Take A Tour Of Our Restaurant!


Church Lane, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 9BY

01189 888 500 01189 888 500


Opening Times

Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 12:00-14:00
Thu 12:00-14:00
Fri 12:00-14:00
Sat 12:00-14:00
Sun Closed
Mon Closed
Tue 18:30-20:00
Wed 18:30-20:00
Thu 18:30-20:00
Fri 18:30-20:00
Sat 18:30-20:00
Sun Closed


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8 Reviews 

Jackie M

23 November 2022  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4.5

Consistently great food , excellent service in a lovely setting.

Lawrence R

31 March 2019  
Excellent quality restaurant, service and food. Beautifully presented.

Lloyd S

25 June 2018  
Food & Drink 5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 5
Value 4.5
Amazing Evening
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

Matthew E

25 April 2018  
Great atmosphere for a staff lunch, great buzz in the restaurant and amazing views of St Pauls. Food is average but nice venue if in a group.

Anthony C

21 March 2018  
Family run restaurant; always a nice welcome; always good food.

amber W

09 May 2017  
Great value.

Mark D

10 April 2017  
Quintessential smart country house restaurant. Great food and wine list. Former kitchen on the great Nico Ladenis.

Wendy M

08 July 2009  
Food & Drink 5
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 4.5
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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