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Star-spangled chef John Campbell (ex-The Vineyard at Stockcross et al) is well and truly back in the big time at this converted boozer just a few miles from his old stomping ground. 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 char-grilled potato salad with horseradish, buttermilk and hen’s yolk 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 brûlée, banana cake, pickled blueberries and muscatel ice cream. 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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