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, and it remains the only restaurant in Reading that possesses a Michelin star.
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.