23 Sep Somewhere for the weekend
Whether you seek a decent lunch at reasonable cost or want to push the boat out, there’s a fabulous choice of dining spots in Sunninghill and Sunningdale, with menus to suit all tastes.This review from the Berkshire Life is a great round up of our favourite restaurants where you can indulge to your heart’s content.
For those sapped of enthusiasm for the same-old, same-old curry house menu, this restaurant takes a unique, regional approach to Indian cooking, breaking with the norm in favour of innovative dishes concocted by chef, Ajoy Sachdev, that have landed the restaurant a string of awards and a loyal local following. The tiger print décor might seem a little garish, but the food certainly isn’t, so enjoy the likes of king prawns in saffron sauce (£5.95), fresh chilli crab on naan (£5.95), tamarind and honey duck cooked in the tandoor (£11.95), crispy fried okra (£4.95) then homemade kulfi and halva for dessert.
A classier, smarter more subdued breed of hostelry, Sunningdale Lounge nonetheless retains the friendly warmth of a pub. Owners Dave and Lilly see the venture as a dream come true and welcome guests as old friends to the contemporary surrounds of high, leather bar stools, polished food floors and funky wallpaper. The menu also, is customer centric, with a please-all selection of firm favourites at not unreasonable prices. Fillet steak, perhaps Berkshire’s cheapest at only £12.95, comes with roasties and green beans, lamb cutlets in Madeira sauce weigh in at £1 less, and a three course Sunday roast looks generous for £16.95.
With Ascot Oriental’s almost never-ending selection of Pan-Asian classics and more modern inspirations, those harbouring a picky eater need fret no more. And the celebs agree. Marco Pierre White, Terry Wogan and Sir Cliff have all eaten here, no doubt appreciating the smart, surrounds as much as the food. Chef Konrad Liu, sweeps the Asia-Pacific region with classic Shanghai pork dumplings (£7.95) alongside a more creative asparagus and lotus root tempura (£7.80). Teriyaki tuna fillet (£18) might share a table with fillet of bass and preserved plum, lemon and basil (£12), or even roast duck green curry with bamboo shoots (£10.25).
Think The Waterside Inn is the only place in Berkshire you’ll find menus still written in French? Think again. But The Carpenters Arm’s largely Gallic offerings do come with an English translation so at least you’ll know what you’re ordering from the likes of country-style terrine with mushroom pickles (£6.95), fondue Savoyard for two (£26.95), slow roasted lamb shoulder with flagelot beans (£17.95), duck confit with green beans and potatoes (£14.95) or the indispensible snails in garlic and parsley (£6.95). More of a surprise will be the setting: French food in a British pub? Anglo-French relations have never seemed cosier.
Ok, so it’s a four star hotel but perhaps Berystede’s biggest boon for diners is The Hyperion Restaurant’s roof terrace; not that a flood of natural light, plush carpets, fresh flowers and high-backed chairs go amiss either. The food here has won an AA rosette and is adventurous without being inaccessible, so rather than plain old pate, chicken livers end up in a terrine with ham hock and pickled grapes (£7.25), black bream sits atop crab linguine with saffron (£7.95) and sirloin steak gets a break from chips in favour of artichoke barigoule, parsnip purée, oxtail jus for £21.50.
Popular for weddings and Legoland day trippers, The Royal Berkshire’s 18th century mansion and 15 acres of landscaped grounds originally built for The Churchill family, also play host to the Little Paddocks Restaurant with views over its pretty gardens and croquet lawn. Stripped floors and panelled walls add a touch of rusticity to the double-laid table clothes and reflect food that’s well made and familiar more than adventurous. Crab and prawns are wrapped in smoked salmon alongside horseradish crème fraîche (£6.25), roast duck comes with celeriac mash, red cabbage and spiced plum purée (£16.50), perhaps followed by lemon cheesecake with elderflower for £5.50.
Part of Sunningdale’s burgeoning miniature food empire, the Vanilla Group, Vanilla Brasserie counts Lewis Butches, Cut & Cook cooking school, Vanilla Parties and Delicatessen among its sister establishments. For that reason expect good meat, perhaps award-winning pork and herb sausages with mash and onion gravy (£11), or push the boat out on Cote de Boeuf for two with fries, mushroom, tomato, watercress and a choice of sauces (£44). Bookend with scallops, pancetta and cauliflower for £16, and lemon tart for dessert, or pop in at lunch for sandwiches such as salt beef or vanilla club sandwiches both at £9 with fries and salad.
Considering you’ll find it nestling within Coworth Park’s 260 acres, The Barn is surprisingly down to earth. A conversion of the Georgian manor house’s actual barn, it retains towering brick walls, stone-slab flooring and beamed rafters, adding suspended copper pan set ornaments, an open kitchen, bench-style seating and a vast open fireplace, all looking through ceiling height glass over a terrace and onto polo fields. Food is simple British fare done with finesse. Expect Caesar salad ‘bacon and egg’ (£8), follow with fish cakes, watercress and poached eggs (£15), then what could be more patriotic than Earl Grey ice cream and garibaldi biscuits (£7.50)?
An A road between Sunningdale and Virginia Water isn’t the most obvious location for such a smart, contemporary restaurant but there’s no noticing the traffic among Bluebell’s deep-pile carpets, brick-lined fire places, ceiling height windows and net-drapery partitioning. Food is equally elegant if more adventurous, perhaps including smoked rabbit rillette, pickled quail eggs, peas and rhubarb chutney (£10.95), then halibut with a broad bean, baby gem, mussel and crayfish fricassee (£27.50). Should a la carte prices sting the £17.50 lunch menu’s roulade of smoked salmon, trout and caviar with pickled cucumber or tuna with fennel, tapenade, pickled peppers and salsa verde will be far more palatable.
While you’ll struggle to push the boat out at The Belvedere Arms, choice-wise, it’s doubtful a pub could offer more. Think classic gastropub looks – wooden floors, beams exposed but unemphasised, cream-washed walls – clean, welcoming and inoffensive. Two courses are available at lunch and early evening for only £12.95 and might include goats cheese, fennel, apple and courgette salad then chicken scallopini, tomato & red onion salad and frites; but with starters like dolcelatte and pear tart or lamb kofta hovering at £7, then a vast list of pizza, pasta, sharing plates and mains, few of them pushing £12, why go for the budget option?