Dec 19 2014

The Waterside Inn

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The Waterside Inn is one of 4 restaurants in the UK that has 3 Michelin stars and the only restaurant in the UK to have retained 3 stars for over 25 years. The Waterside Inn gained its first Michelin star 2 years after it first opened in 1974 when the guide originally came out, the second one in 1977, and the third one in 1985. The Waterside Inn is located in Bray, 16th century village, about 1h drive from central London, in close proximity (5 min walk) to another 3 Michelin star restaurant – The Fat Duck. The Waterside Inn, as the name suggests, is a restaurant next to the Thames river. We came here for lunch and so we could perfectly see the nice countryside and the river with a very quick current. When you come here for dinner, you don’t really see the outside so well. The Waterside Inn has been run by the famous chef Roux Family for years and nowadays it is run by Alain Roux.

Booking The Waterside Inn is definitely easier than booking the Fat Duck, and we booked it 3 months before and got a table on a Friday lunchtime (we could not get a table for dinner). What surprised me at first when I walked into the dining room that overlooks the river, was how noisy in a pleasant way the restaurant was. Everyone was chatting, having a great time, enjoying their food. There are a lot of these high end restaurants that are quiet and you can hear a knife drop, but not The Waterside Inn. Another thing that surprised me throughout the whole meal was the service. I experienced the best service I have ever had. The waiters were attentive, could read what I wanted to say from half a sentence, got me everything, it was amazing. There was one girl there though that single handedly brought everything down and was extremely inexperienced and actually bad, did not understand what we were asking, suggested the wrong thing, but overall apart from her the rest of the waiters (many of them) were impeccable.

At the Waterside Inn you could either chose to have the menu gastronomique (lunch menu) and pay £49.50 for 2 courses or £62 for 3 (this menu did cost more on a Saturday and even more on a Sunday), chose the menu exceptionnel for £160, their signature tasting menu, or order dishes from a la carte, where starters were £30 on average and main courses £60, so not cheap. In general I did think the food in The Waterside Inn was overpriced versus other 3 Michelin and top 10 restaurants in the world. It was good, but a tasting menu for £160 is probably the most expensive tasting menu I have had, and this was not the best one I have ever had.

A very unfortunately thing about The Waterside Inn (at least to me) is that they did not let you take pictures. We told them it was our anniversary and even then they would not take a picture of us eating. They banned all mobile phones there. I did want to take pictures of the food, so I sneakily took pictures, but every time I did it, I felt like a criminal and I had to hide the fact I was doing it. I am sure the waiters realized what I was doing, but they did not say anything, which was nice of them.

The bread they brought us was ok and besides the bread they also gave us some amuse bouche snacks, an olive bread, and 3 other snacks, which were nice, but did not blow me away. Our first dish was “Ceviche of sea bass marinated in passion fruit juice, served with a crisp vegetable salad”. The fish was very fresh and the passion fruit was a nice addition, unusual to use it like this with fish, it was a pleasant dish, but nothing special, and I do expect special in a 3 Michelin star restaurant.

The second dish of our tasting menu was called “Pan-fried escalopes of foie gras with a thin slice of ginger bread, quince compote and mulled wine flavoured sauce” and was actually one of my favourite dishes of the whole menu. I like cooked fois gras a lot and generally prefer it to uncooked one, but at first when I heard that it would be served with ginger bread and mulled wine flavoured sauce, I was not convinced and thought it would not work, but I was completely wrong. How all these ingredients tasted together was amazing, individually they tasted nice, but when you put a bit of everything on the same fork and ate it, it was amazing. The true skill of a restaurant is to put together ingredients that you would not put together yourself and for the taste to amaze you.

The third dish was “Pan-fried lobster medallions with a white port sauce and ginger flavoured vegetable julienne”. I did like it, but it was quite a simple dish. The lobster was very meaty and good quality and the ginger added a lovely bit of Asian twist to the dish, but the dish showcased more a good quality ingredient – lobster – as opposed to anything else and you can pay up and get lobster in many places.

As for the next dish and the last savoury one we could have a choice of 2 dishes -  “Duo of seasonal game with a pumpkin subric, parcel of wild mushrooms and spinach, poivrade sauce” or “Roasted Challandais duck with green olives, garlic scented fondant potatoes, braised baby fennel, olive and truffle jus” and we chose to have one of each and then share it. I personally preferred the duck, but my boyfriend like the game, which was venison, more. The duck was beautiful pink with a nice small layer of fat, and it was very tasty, and I liked the green olives with-it and liked the fondant potatoes.

After the main courses we received 2 desserts and before them a small little palette cleanser. The first dessert was called “Teardrop of milk chocolate mousse flavoured with caramel, mango filling and sorbet”. I generally liked it a lot and thought the mango with the milk chocolate was a nice and slightly unusual combination. It was also very pretty in those dark brown and yellow/orange colours. The second dessert was “Warm orange soufflé with lingonberries”. The soufflé was cooked perfectly, up to the minute, and I liked how it was an orange soufflé, a flavour I have not yet seen used in a soufflé and which was really very nice. I don’t really like lingonberries though, so I was not a fan of this element.

After our meal we were brought the most incredible petit fours, which were a true form of art, so many different ones and all of them absolutely divine and skilfully executed. The thing that my boyfriend and I remember the most about this meal were the petit fours. The other thing that we loved about the Waterside Inn was how when we were waiting for a taxi, they gave us some free champagne to drink whilst we were waiting. It was a wonderful touch. They also gave us another box of the same petit fours to take away with us, which was also amazing, so we left thinking this was an amazing restaurant, but then again if you spend more than £500, you should feel like this. So the service was amazing, but the food of the tasting menu was not that memorable for us. It was a good meal, but in our view not worthy of £160, one of the most expensive tasting menus we have had, and not worthy of 3 Michelin stars. I would give them 2 Michelin stars and mainly because of their incredible service.

Date: 19/ 12/ 14
Location: Bray, UK
Price for 2 people with alcohol: around £500

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4.00

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The Waterside Inn
Ferry Road West Berkshire SL6 2AT
Bray
United Kingdom
GB
The Waterside Inn Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4