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Lunch with a view: 18 fab waterside eats

Water, water everywhere and there's more than a drop to drink (thank god!). Watch the world float by at Muddy's fave waterside spots to eat and drink.

I’ve been to a gazillions of pubs, restaurants and cafés in Berkshire on Muddy duty and have drawn together this scratch list, admittedly half cut late in the evening, but hopefully with a degree of knowledge and insight. Yeah yeah, I’ve probably left some goodies off, and if you think there has been a libellous omission, genuinely please let me know. I hope these suggestions help you have a wonderful waterside weekend. Slap on the sunscreen and enjoy the view

Dundas Arms, Kintbury

dundas-arms-Kintbury white historic pub by river

Perched above the Kennet & Avon canal, the Dundas Arms is the perfect destination when you need to escape the daily grind. Spend a lazy afternoon messing about by the river before sinking into a winged chair by the log fire and enjoy good gastropub food – think beer battered cod and triple cooked chips to a proper Sunday roast. The pub is open with social distancing measures in place, so book up, enjoy and drink in the view.

Monkey Island Brasserie, Bray

One of the hottest hotel launches of 2019, Monkey Island Estate in Bray (sister hotel to the Gainsborough Bath Spa) has been resurrected from a crumbling Grade I listed wreck to a luxury crash pad and party palace for a cosmopolitan crowd. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce it’s on an island, and the brasserie makes the most of the watery location with walls off glass. There’s also a floating spa and boat for hire even you want to edge closer to the wet stuff.

The Boathouse at Boulters Lock, Maidenhead

The Boathouse at Boulters Lock (formerly known as Boulters) has undergone a turbo charged refurb – completed just before lockdown. Inside there’s a cool contemporary vibe, but it’s that river view you come for.. Be warned, wine induced oblivion is a possibility when water, sunshine and people watching boaty types are thrown into the mix. It’s a grown up waterside eatery that could almost pass for Spain, France or Italy. But I guess that’s what the river’s all about – total escapism.

Roux at Skindles, Maidenhead

Roux at Skindles Maidenhead Berkshire outside terrace by river with large parasols

It’s got Roux over the door and on the floor, but more importantly it’s got a  stonking view of the River Thames and a couple of sunny terraces. Roux at Skindles is the place to be when the big yellow ball is in the sky. Enjoy drink and snack in upstairs on the cocktail bar balcony or grab one of the few table outside in the brasserie. If you’re not there early, you’ll have to wrestle table hoggers out of their prime location seats

Cwtch, Willow Marina Wargrave

Cywtch Cafe wargrave cafe in marina

Wargrave has not one but two marinas. That’s how much they love their boats in this neighbourhood. At Willow Marina you’ll find Cwtch (quick google and it means hug in Welsh), a lovely café serving great coffee and bacon sarnies and wraps plus a list of cakes that would make Mary Berry weep. So if you love cake, this is the place to be.

The Waterside Inn, Bray

The foodie enclave of Bray is not all about Heston Blumenthal. Long before he introduced the world to snail porridge, a French fancy was drawing a foodie crowd. Alain Roux’s The Waterside Inn has held three Michelin stars since 1985 and is blessed with a stonking riverside location. Loved by chefs, expect fine wines and French classics with a price tag to match. We delighted to see it has reopened and is currently offering a reduced a la carte menu.

Coppa Club, Swan at Streatley, Streatley

Swan at Streatley Coppa Club roof lantern multi lights wooden floors stais and wood pannelling

It’s hard to choose one, but this is definitely in our top 5 prettiest riverside locations in Berkshire. FACT. The Swan at Streatley hotel and its restaurant Coppa Club are located right on the riverbank, and the 380-cover restaurant and bar is the pretty perfect watering hole to relax and unwind. Drink in the view, admire the lush interiors and take a pew on large riverside terrace enclosed by a glass to allow al fresco dining all year round. Keep your eyes peeled for tennis totty Tim Henman, he’s  a regular.

Bel and The Dragon, Reading

Bel and the dragon Reading former biscuit factory next to canal

A waterside retreat does not have to have that Wind In The Willows vibe. Enjoy the cool urban oasis of the Bel and the Dragon – a converted canal-side biscuit factory in Reading town centre. It’s a hidden gem with a trendy bar and a great place to eat out with kids. The building retains many of its original features – note the arched windows, the winches, and the old foreman’s office in the upstairs dining area. On sunny days knock back your rosé on the stunning riverside terrace. There are planters filled with fragrant herbs, café-style tables and chairs and fire pits for when the temperatures dip. If you’re boaty, you can moor right outside.

Thames Lido, Reading

THAMES LIDO Reading outdoor pool glass windows to restaurant

Yes, we have many beautiful riverside spots, but you cannot resist Reading’s hidden gem – the Thames Lido, with its restaurant nestled between the outdoor pool and the Thames. Fancy a bite to eat? There’s a Mediterranean vibe to the menu and when the sun shines, you could be anywhere in the world. Watch the swimmers pootle up and down or take a dip yourself. It’s what sunny days were made for. Absolute bliss.

The French Horn, Sonning

The French Horn Sonning

It’s French, it’s fancy and it can blow its own horn. The French Horn is a Berkshire institution – a fine dining restaurant that’s been round the block a few times. Diners come back time and time again for the old school cookery, service and location. What it lacks in interior goals, it makes up for in culinary charm and tradition – in fact you’ll always see ducks cooking on the open fire. So if you’re vegan, avert your eyes.

Coppa Club, Sonning

view of the large boutique hotel The Great House in Sonning from the banks of the river Thames surrounded by trees

A hangout so close to George Clooney’s house, he might slap a restraining order on you. The Coppa Club at The Great House offers cool interiors with pops of colour, outside terrace, and a lawn that runs down to the river. The food is super family friendly, with plenty of choices for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.  There’s a lovely towpath walk, The Mill theatre is just over the bridge and you’re within stalking, I mean waving, distance of George.

Whittington’s Tea Barge, Caversham

Whittington's Tea Barge scones and river view

Now this is a truly unique experience – eating scones al fresco on a narrow boat. The Whittington’s Tea Barge is moored on the north bank of the river Thames alongside Christchurch Meadows in Reading. Afternoon teas don’t come quirkier. Be warned though – it’s only open Friday to Sunday. But, don’t just rock up unannounced, as it can be booked up for private parties. Expect mismatched vintage china, homemade cakes, sarnies and scones.

The Little Angel, Henley on Thames

Little Angel pub Henley on Thames Muddy Stilettos Berkshire

OK, so I’m slightly bending the H2O rules because The Little Angel is not next to water, but it is very near. It’s a favourite with rowers and regatta goers because of its proximity to the rowing club (alumni include Pinsent and Redgrave, no less). Dating back to the 1600s, The Little Angel is child and dog friendly, serving gastropub food  so you get a cracking trial cooked chip and side order of Lyra-clad six pack. Take a stroll along the towpath, enjoy a boat trip down the Thames or watch the world float by. Add to your must try-list.

GoGos Waterfront Restaurant, Windsor Racecourse Marina

Squint and it could be Portofino. But what it lacks in hot Italians, it makes up for in proximity. GoGos Waterfront Restaurant can be found at Windsor Racecourse Marina and offers breakfast, lunch and evening meals – think sharing boards, tapas-style small plates and food fresh from the grill. It’s a bit of a hidden gem and you’ll get a stonking view of the local wildlife on and off their boats.

The Boatman, Windsor

The Boatman windsor's onlt riverside pun in shadow of Windsor Castle by Rover Thames

Windsor’s only riverside pub, The Boatman is practically the Queen’s local and is a prime spot for people and boat watching. In the shadow of the castle and facing onto the Eton side of the Thames, it is idyllic when the sun shines. Grab table on the terrace and join Her Maj for an 11am G&T. Cheers Ma’am. If you’re in the mood for a bite, settle in for a menu of pub food with flair. The conservatory has a retractable roof, making the most of the waterside location without getting wet when it rains.

The Swan, Pangbourne

Swan-pangbourne-terrace

Literary lovers get thee to The Swan in Pangbourne and drink in the view that inspired Kenneth Grahame’s Wind In The Willows and the pub itself also features in Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat. A 17th century inn tucked up against the Thames, make a beeline for the small terrace and sit directly on the waterfront the view is to die for. Think tree-lined meadow, large and small boats (some even moor at the pub for lunch). The food is unpretentious but stylishly presented and a nice spot for a family lunch.

Teashop by the Canal, Newbury

Teashop By the canal in Newbury

The Teashop on the Canal says what it does on the tin. Sells tea next to the canal on Newbury wharf – which 200 years ago was the main trading route between London and Bristol. The tearoom has a warm, vintage vibe – fully embracing nana chic. But you won’t see many complaints about the food, with the bread and cakes made fresh onsite every day. There are 50 seats on the wharf, if it’s even remotely warm, you’ll need to sprint to nab one.

The Rowbarge, Woolhampton

The Rowbarge woolhampton rivers pub near Newbury Berkshire

As riverside pubs go, The Rowbarge in Woolhampton has one of the biggest gardens, perfect for energetic kids. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, a little of the beaten track and the food is good and reasonably priced. Kids are welcomed with opened arms, it has a superb section of wines and beers, plus 93 different gins. Slow down the pace, watch the canal boats make their way through the lock and drift down Kennet.

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14 comments on “Lunch with a view: 18 fab waterside eats”

  • Petra August 11, 2018

    Great recommendations, but I reckon you didn’t want to call the Waterside Inn “a STINKING riverside location”? Anyway, it made me laugh. Keep up the good work.
    I live on the Western outskirts of Surrey, only a few miles from Hampshire on one side and Berkshire on the other, and grateful for suggestions for all 3 counties.

    Reply
    • rachel August 11, 2018

      Ha! Safe to say it’s not stinking. Autocorrect is my kryptonite. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Reply
  • Laura August 11, 2018

    I love your write ups!! You capture the spirit beautifully and in just a short paragraph! The Swan at Streatley is just divine….super location with an awesome gym and cafe. Will always be my favourite.

    Reply
    • rachel August 11, 2018

      Shucks you say the nicest things. Love the Swan at Streatley and beyond excited about the new Coppa Club.

      Reply
  • Holly August 15, 2018

    Thank you for this, I was stuck for somewhere to go on our kid free weekend and have booked sonning for brunch x

    Reply
    • rachel August 20, 2018

      Hope you had fun… did you enjoy it?

      Reply
  • DEBORAH May 23, 2019

    I love Boulters on the Maidenhead riverside – beautiful waterside roof terrace bar and fab restaurant. It’s my favourite summer drinking spot.

    Reply
    • rachel May 26, 2019

      I’ve not been there for a while. I’ll have to check it out again soon x

      Reply
  • Carol July 16, 2020

    The little Angel henley is not on the river
    The Angel on the Bridge is

    Reply
    • rachel July 16, 2020

      I was indeed stretching the brief, Carol. But it’s so close to the river I thought it was worth mentioning.

      Reply
  • Darren Foreman August 28, 2020

    Aren’t we lucky

    Reply
    • rachel August 31, 2020

      I’m certainly not complaining, Darren

      Reply
  • Margaret Gilbert August 30, 2020

    Love your write ups! Just thought you’d like to know, there’s a new kid in the block, or should I say river! What used to be The Riverside Brasserie has now reopened as Mediterranevm at Bray! Superb riverside location and great menu! We’ve already eaten there and will definately be going again.

    Reply
    • rachel August 31, 2020

      Ooh, we love a fresh refurbed restaurant and the fact it’s by water makes it even better. Thanks Margaret.

      Reply

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