The Waterside Inn

Ferry Road Bray Berkshire SL6 2AT

Forty years old in September 2012, the Waterside Inn has a fair claim to be the best restaurant in Britain – and maybe the first of the modern era. There are flashier local rivals, including Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck down the road, that may steal the critics' garlands year by year, but no other establishment has held onto three Michelin stars for so long – 27 years to date. Established by Michel Roux and now presided over by his son, Alain, the Waterside is a temple to exquisite flavours and exemplary service. The experience begins with valet parking, before you are ushered into the dining room, a not-particularly-plush, red-carpeted space with a wall of patio glass giving onto a jetty and the river Thames. But if the décor is nothing to write home about, the food is something else altogether. The seasonal menu offers superbly executed French dishes with delightful but not overly wacky variations. On our visit, the eight-course tasting menu included a whole escalope of foie gras, a meltsome fillet of sole, and an ethereal rhubarb soufflé. The wine list is epic (from £30 to £1500 per bottle and running to over 50 pages), and the service outstandingly attentive without being overbearing. Little touches include menus that show prices for the table booker only, not their partner; and succulent slices of birthday tiramisu for those celebrating. Alain Roux pops round at the end of the meal to chat to all the diners – a fine flourish to a pricey but unique experience.

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