Star-spangled chef John Campbell (ex-The Vineyard at Stockcross et al) currently has this finely tuned converted boozer just a few miles from his old stomping ground right where he wants it. Billed as a ‘smart country restaurant without formality’, The Woodspeen incorporates a pubby bar with Berkshire ales on tap, plus an airy conservatory-style extension with a sparkling open kitchen, vaulted ceilings and picture windows – the perfect setting for Michelin-starred food with strong seasonal accents. As expected, everything is “just perfect” – from sage and onion burrata, fermented cabbage, fennel crumb and buttermilk dressing or roast scallops with chorizo, broccoli and red pepper to roast cod with salsify, braised onion and potted shrimps or local venison with malt-potato gratin, parsnip, cabbage hearts and chocolate. There are also big porcine platefuls and ribs of beef to share, while puds maintain the creative streak – how about a combo of crème fraîche cheesecake, kumquat, oat crumble and basil. Service is charming, unobtrusive and efficient to a fault – although additional praise is heaped on the restaurant manager, who makes everyone “feel very special”.
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