The ULTIMATE in cooking and service in Great Britain…a temple of excellence not to be missed
I’ve been visiting Waterside Inn with my family for around twenty years however I’ve only very recently started posting on Tripadviser and this is my first ever post on the internet about Waterside Inn, which has been consistently excellent …unlike most well-known restaurants we visit. Waterside Inn never disappoints. I used to enjoy and be a great fan of Gordon Ramsey in his younger, Aubergine days but I found his restaurant quality evaporated the more famous he became. I now avoid all of his restaurants. For fantastic food and service, we either go abroad…or in the UK we visit the true temple of culinary perfection, Waterside Inn, where we can both relax and be spoiled by their level of excellence…and avoid chef’s who cook with nitrogen and test-tubes…not our thing!
Back in the 1970’s my favourite restaurant in the world was Alain Chapel, in Mionnay, near Lyon in France, with three Michelin stars. I’m very lucky…I’ve spent years visiting Michelin establishments and so I can speak from some experience. Waterside Inn is the 2011 equivalent of the late Alain Chapel and indeed Waterside’s Maitre d’, Diego reminds me of Herve Duronzier, the legendary Maitre D’ at Alain Chapel in being absolutely fantastic in every way. Chatting to Diego about the menu prior to ordering is an absolute must and at times the result may be quite a surprise. On one previous visit, Diego explained that Waterside Inn were one of only two restaurants in the world that served Duck Presse. We asked if we could try it. What a superlative experience…it was real theatre, different, delicious, interesting… and we look forward to doing it all again one day. I’m posting a photo of Diego beside Waterside Inn’s gleaming Duck Presse machine. Sophisticated diners need to experience this most spectacular recipe of the classical French repertoire, made famous by the Tour d'Argent, the oldest restaurant in France, at least once in a lifetime.
In over 20 years I’ve only been served wonderful food at Waterside Inn and Diego is the most knowledgeable restaurant manager I have ever encountered and who always ensures guests are served what they want, irrespective of what is stated on the menu. Assistant Maitre D’, Freddy is also absolutely superb as are the sommeliers.
The talented chef, Mr Alain Roux (son of founder, the legendary Michelle Roux) always appears to greet customers towards the end of service. We find him to be the most modest of chefs…he doesn’t need to tell everyone how brilliant his cooking is…it’s obvious. No TV super-chef rubbish for him. There’s something to be said to sticking to being a top chef, when you are a top chef.
Last year the Dorchester Group opened Cowarth Park close to where we live. We tried their two rosette chef’s “tasting menu” which, had we not double ordered two of the courses, would have left my wife and guests hungry. With Waterside Inn nearby, I don’t see the point of returning to Coworth Park. We recently tried Waterside Inn’s new tasting menu along with some A La Carte dishes and a few specials which superb restaurant director and Maitre d’ Diego Masciaga suggested. Everything was impeccable and flowed with perfection… In fact we left all the decisions to Diego. After canapés, my wife and I both started with a freebie being a smooth parmesan cream with truffle and pink fir apple potato, served with almond pastry straw. Next came a Courgette flower filled with wild mushrooms, spring vegetables tossed in a warm olive oil with chopped truffle…incredible flavours from perfect ingredients.
The kitchen then brought brought my wife a wonderful cheese soufflé while I enjoyed Pan-fried escalopes of foie gras Grenoble style with caramelized slices of orange…this unusually served with some bean sprouts, something I’ve never experienced with foie gras before…excellent.
(on our previous visit, while I enjoyed escalope of foie gras with cardamam, glazed root vegetables, verjuice and sultana sauce…terrific, my wife who can’t deal with escalope of foie gras, had seasonal game pate wrapped in pastry with truffles and a pate of foie gras which she told me was incredible).
Next item on the tasting menu was pan-fried lobster medallion with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable Julienne, which I’m sure anyone would enjoy…but as we don’t ever eat crustacea, Diego substituted with perfectly roasted, moist Turbot, on the bone served with soft tarbais beans and lardons, black trumpet mushrooms and a full flavoured Hermitage wine sauce.
This was followed by “duo of seasonal game” with a pumpkin subric, parcel of wild mushrooms and spinach and poivrade sauce. This was a very substantial course indeed, more than equal in volume to Coworth Park’s entire tasting menu…and some! A partridge and a pheasant arrived which were then prepared at the table by Diego and an assistant and served to us together with venison. Wonderful taste, perfectly cooked. While we enjoyed this, my adventurous eight year old son, explained to Diego exactly how to filet a whole Dover sole (he is genuinely interested in cooking and can actually do this himself) while he was served roasted Challandais duck, with slices of poached quine, soft polenta with chestnuts and cider flavoured sauce (unusually for a child, he will try anything from any Michelin rated menu, although his favourites are pigeon, rabbit, anything to do with artichokes and soufflés).
Pudding was a teardrop of milk chocolate mousse flavoured with caramel, mango and passion fruit filling and this was followed by a sensational warm date soufflé flavoured with cognac. We could barely manage the mignardises which followed…there was no tummy room left for the usual cappuccino with Baileys. I missed the selection of deserts from the summer menu (all truly “historic”) but I guess some of it isn’t in season.
On our last visit to Waterside Inn, we enjoyed the best cooking anywhere since our previous Waterside visit…the service and cooking is just so superior to anywhere else we have visited in the UK and yet the cost of their tasting menu is no more than that of many lesser restaurants. Our most recent dinner must have been ten times better than any of the London restaurants that my wife and I visit…it may not have “buzz” of Scotts/Wolsely but nor does it have the high noise level. For the best food in the UK, Waterside Inn still remains supreme…in our humble opinion. When I want fantastic value and top quality perfection in every way, that is where I go and I create my own entertainment with my choice of guests. It’s where HM the Queen goes (as well as The Ritz of course). When I want a great buzz and a fun experience then we may go to the Wolseley and accept what I’m served without complaint or be squashed in at Scotts (I could barely move, I was so hemmed in on my last visit)…but I’ll still keep returning to them both. However when I want to be spoiled, or for a special occasion or to celebrate…then we go to Waterside Inn.
There are some wonderful new bedrooms at Waterside Inn, we stayed a couple of years ago with our three children, even though we live only a few miles away…it was a special celebration. I would highly recommend the accommodation. During summer it is one of life’s great pleasures to enjoy pre-dinner canapés and drinks on the terrace, over-looking the river. The people watching is can also be quite interesting…all in all, unbeatable in the UK.