Private dining rooms for a glittering reunion
Get someone else to do the cooking, but have the place to yourselves... it's the best of both worlds. These Berkshire pubs and restaurants have the ideal room for a special meal with family, friends or work mates
From next week, we can meet indoors, hug (breaking news!) and have some long overdue good times with our nearest and dearest.
And frankly, who wants to be standing at the stove, clearing plates and filling glasses when you can enjoy the hospitality of our fabulous local eateries, and give them the much-needed business they need.
Whether you’re meeting friends or family we’re expecting laughs, tears, screams and squeals… so why not book a private room where you can catch up, uninhibited by the horrified looks of your fellow diners?
We’ve scoured Berkshire for all manner of private dining rooms to suit every size of group and occasion, whether it’s a sit-down affair, stand-up buffet or full-blown cocktail and canapé do.
From 17 May, you’ll be able to book private dining for six or more people or more than that number from two households, or up to 30 people for events such as wedding parties, funeral wakes and ‘standalone life-cycle events’… whatever they may be.
When we’re allowed larger gatherings from 21 June you’ll want to have these places booked up well ahead. You’d better get booking…
The Vicar’s Room may not sound like the venue for a rip-roaring gathering but with a vast dining table hewn from a single trunk of oak, blood red walls and gold chandeliers depicting famous queens, the Vicar’s Room is anything but reserved. There’s seating for up to 20 guests and sumptuous set menus – no death by parma ham-wrapped chicken here.
The White Oak, Cookham
The two AA Rosette White Oak in Cookham has a few options for private hire – but the most family friendly is the light and airy, self-contained dining room that can seat up to 10. It’s a children-friendly gastropub too so no need to feel awkward too if you’re dragging in some reluctant offspring. Need more seats? Well, the main Oak Room can sit up to 70.
The Pheasant Inn knee slid into the coveted Top 50 Gatsropubs list this year and for good reason. The food is very very good – with an emphasis on local seasonal ingredients. Upstairs is a new dedicated dining space, designed by Octavia Dickinson, that seats 20 – perfect for cocktails and canapés or a private dinner party. It also has 11 boutique rooms to rest your weary head when you’re partied out. Reopens 17 May.
The old Lloyds Bank building has one of the coolest pubs in Reading, with a casual urban cool that can feel a bit try hard, but not here. Market House has a lots of spaces that can become your very own VIP area – depending on vibe and size of your party. The Vault is our absolute fave – it’s a secret garden with retractable rook that seats 70 and the Rooftop Terrace seats 40. It’s a street food menu, with a good selection of craft lagers, wines, small batch spirits, so great for kids and hipsters but may have traditionalists clutching their pearls.
Veeno in Reading is a hidden gem – an authentic Italian wine bar boasting quality wines from the owners’ family vineyard in Sicily. The private dining space is curtained off, so you still get the buzz of the restaurant but there’s a buffer for the other diners when lunch gets a bit raucous after the third bottle of wine. Veeno can accommodate small and big parties, organise a wine tasting or sit down meal of comforting plates of pasta, cured meats and cheeses. It’s super child friendly just as you would expect from an true Italian restaurant.
The Newbury Pub‘s is superb gastropub with its very own gin distillery – which also doubles as a private dining room. It can seat up to 16, you’ll be served a special tasting menu and, owner master distiller Pete Lumber, can even host a gin tasting to get the party started. The Terrace and Cocktail Lounge are also available if you’re inviting everyone in your contacts list. The tasty food is modern British and the pub is full of Pete’s art collection. It’s a gastropub with style and substance.
Oh so sophisticated! Bluebells Restaurant in Sunningdale is made for special occasions. It’s informal fine dining with a stonking wine list but offers a kids menu to keep your hangry offspring longing for a Happy Meal. The millennial pink semi-private dining space is separated by a wispy curtain, so you get the restaurant buzz. Interior lovers will appreciate the dreamy decor, foodies will lap up the modern European cuisine and the service will go down a storm for all. It’s special occasion catnip for the locals, so get your booking in quick.
Outside the touristy hustle and bustle of Windsor town centre, is the Michelin-rated Greene Oak gastropub. The food is superb and we’re champing at the bit to dine in the converted horse boxes, perfect for a party of 10. It’s rustic and fun, and we’ll be swishing our mane and tail ’til closing. If you need a bit more formality and space the beautiful Oak Room can accommodate 26 for a seated meal. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food it unpretentious – and we would expect nothing less from owners James Lyon Shaw and Jamie Dobbin, who met while working at The Ivy in London.
This classic British pub is a whopper. The Wellington Arms at Stratfield Turgis straddles the Berkshire/ Hants border. It has oodles of space and a crowd-pleasing menu that’ll please the fussiest of eaters. The Waterloo Suite is whopper, seating 140 guests, so if you’re going big, this should tick the box. For more intimate get togethers, this former hunting lodge has several semi-private rooms and nooks to suit parties of all sizes.
The Royal Oak in Yattendon is a stonking country pub with three private dining rooms – and 10 boutique rooms if you need a lie down afterwards. The Oak can cater for intimate dinner parties, cocktails and canapés for 60 or a theatrical banquet complete with roast suckling. It’s a lovely historic village pub with one of the prettiest gardens in the county and surrounded by woodland walks.
Welcome to the house of fun. The Dolphin Pub is a fun and funky pub, perfect for a party. The menus are a crowd-pleasing mix of pub classics and they love a small drinks producer so expect to see craft lagers, softies and small-batch spirits from talented UK producers. On a sunny day, book the garden huts (up to 12), The Garden Room is a light, bright space for 25 and The Fish Tank can seat up to 14. All stylishly decorated with witty fishy references in all the artwork and quirky interior design.
Hurley House is home-from-home gorgeous (the home you dream of not the one you’ve necessarily got). A roaring fire in the bar, a candlelit restaurant and understated luxury decor. It has a stylish private dining room for up to 16, although the main restaurant can be booked exclusively for 30 people and there’s the mahoosive Garden Pavilion (up to 140 guests) if you’re plan to go big. It’s a foodie destination with a superb rep for its Modern British and Japanese cuisine. It’s also a Muddy award-winning boutique hotel so you can scoff, quaff and stagger to bed.
Monkey Island Estate‘s al fresco private dining experience is quirky and fun. Head out to the shepherd huts by the river and you’ll be waited on hand and foot. Watch the food sizzle on the grill or simply drink wine and take in the stupendous view. For larger get togethers, this elegant hotel has room for all occasions, catering for 20-200 of your favourite people in the River Room, Ballroom and Spencer Suite.
The end of lockdown is a date worth celebrating – and it doesn’t get fancier than three Michelin star thriller, The Waterside Inn. The private dining room does not boast the restaurant’s famous river view, but the pretty courtyard garden, Alain Roux’s fancy French food and attentive service certainly make up for it. The room even has its own private entrance, so if you have any VIPs in your party of 12, it could come in handy.
A short walk from Eton College and Windsor Castle is Gilbey’s – a restaurant that’s featured on Eton’s High Street for decades. It’s a much-loved local haunt with rave reviews for the food (although it’s a bit expensive). For your right royal knees up, head to the first floor dining room. It can seat 8-16 people and you get lovely views of Eton’s historic high street. Not big enough for your gang? The Gallery seats 16-24 and you can book exclusive use of The Conservatory (seats 35-60).
The Botanist, Reading
Need to drink your pot plant cocktail in private? No problemo. The Botanist in Reading has a 12-seater private dining room with a show stopping chandelier. It a relaxed, fun and buzzy restaurant so if you need a proper chinwag catch up, book in here. The menus will should go down a storm, offering sharing boards, the famous hanging kebabs, pub classics and a simple kids menu.
JUST OVER THE BORDER…
This multi-award-winning eatery is all about serving local and seasonal food in the unpretentious setting of what was an 18th century pub. There’s an area that can be separated off for 18 diners or a private room that accommodates 12. The window-lined sunroom overlooks the pretty garden and countryside beyond, and menus for each event are created bespoke, in consultation with the event organiser. As regulars on James Martin’s Saturday Kitchen, you may already be familiar with the food of chefs Ryan and Liam Simpson-Trotman. Now you can taste it!
The Royal Oak, Marlow
Not so much a private dining room, but more of a private teepee out the back in an enclosed part of the garden. The (entirely waterproof!) teepee accommodates up to 30 people and the minimum food order is for 15. There’s a fire pit for warmth and adaptable finger food menus to suit your needs. Hire costs start at £100. Go, go, go!