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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.