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The Boatman, Windsor

It's the perfect spot for sun seekers and royal watchers – Windsor's only riverside pub.

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

THE LOCATION

Definitely one to bookmark for the warmer months – we’ve got to see a lot more sun soon, right? My legs are starting to scare. The Boatman is Windsor’s only riverside pub, so the perfect spot for a lazy hazy afternoon watching the watery world go by.

conservatory with retractable roof by river Thames Windsor the Boatman pub

The pub is one of the oldest in the royal town and has been part of the waterfront scene since about 1829. It was originally called The King’s Head but locally it’s known as the The Donkey House, as it used to stable the donkeys which worked by the river. It’s very much a traditional pub with lots of old charm but with a rather fabulous sun terrace and a modern conservatory with a retractable roof. Windsor’s answer to Wimbledon’s Centre Court – and a much coveted spot to eat, drink and party.

turquoise and yellow walls bar area The Boatman Windsor

THE VIBE

It’s all about location location location – it’s on an idyllic stretch of the Thames in royal town of Windsor, just 15 minutes from Maidenhead or Ascot, and 30 minutes from London. It tends to attract an older crowd although is busy with local families and tourists lunching on the weekend, it’s a popular wedding and party venue. As I said, the river location is not to be sniffed at. People will sell their granny for a view like this one.

I wish I could tell you we visited on a balmy summer evening and lounged on the outside terrace, watching the boats meander by… but actually it was dreary, dank and drizzly, so we headed straight to the bar to plonk ourselves by down. It was pretty quiet on our visit, a family group,  a few couples lunching and the odd business diner in attendance but I know from experience that on sunny weekends it’s a buzzier spot.

The decor is nautical but nice (fnar), with a maritime vibe suited to a retired sea captain. Chandeliers, painted wood panelling and lots of sea travel knick knacks. Oars above the bar, port hole shaped convex mirrors, nets and ropes. Overdo it and there’s a danger of looking like a theme pub, but I think it actually sits quite well here. Whereas the dining room is traditional, the bar area has a cooler vibe painted in teal and yellow with exposed stone and battered old furniture. I loved it.

SCOFF & QUAFF

Skewered tiger prawns with salad and sweet chilli sauce The Boatman Windsor
Now down to business. *Loosens belt and tucks in napkin*. My lunch date is a discerning critic, prone to violent gastro outbursts… not Marco Pierre White, the youngest Mudlet, Sam. The Boatman offer good British classics and has a particularly good rep for its seafood. It’s seasonal, locally sourced, quality pub grub.
To start I order the King Prawn with sweet chilli sauce and Sam ordered fish and chips from the kids’ menu (£6.95). It’s so easy to overcook prawns particularly when riddled, but they they were sweet and soft, not rubbery.
Fish chip lemon wedge pea and chips with tartar sauce The Boatman Windsor
The fish and chips seem to be going down well. The wedge of lemon and tartar sauce were rejected immediately, but other than that, no complaints from across the table.
For main, I went for the manager Paul’s recommendation of the lamb with creamy mash and green beans, neatly piled up with a moat of gravy. It’s worth noting, portion size are generous, so if you have a small appetite, choose carefully. The lamb was melt in the mouth slow roasted and I could’v bathed in the sauce. It’s one way to cover up the pasty glare reflection from my wintery skin.
slow roasted lamb mash potato green bans and gravy on white square plate The Boatman Windsor
 I managed to make the pudding menu. Woohoo. I fear I may’ve failed you and ordered the wrong thing. I should’ve ordered The Boatman’s famous Eton Mess. It was even featured on The One Show. Never ones to follow the herd at Muddy, so I ordered the cheese cake with a berry compote.
slice of vanilla cheese cake with berry compote and spring of mint The Boatman Windsor
It was very tasty, but a little sickly for my delicate palette (no laughing at the back). Regular readers of Muddy will know I struggle with 3 courses. Eyes are always bigger than my stomach. Generous probably sums up The Boatman, if I’m honest. Both the food, staff and service are brimming . Kids are very much welcomed and catered for, so knackered parents everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy, oh maybe as much as 60 seconds peace to knock back a cold glass of something wet.
OUT & ABOUT
Prince Harry and Meghan Markel official engagement photos Frogmore House Windsor Berkshire
Obviously you’re in Windsor, so there’re all the usual royal touristy things to do – Windsor Castle, Long Walk, Legoland. You can read my guide to the town here. Right now, it’s all about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Big Fat Berkshire Wedding. The Boatman will be showing the wedding on the big screen in the conservatory, there will be a Champagne and Seafood bar outside, and you can order anything from the menu – although fizz and fruits de mer sound spot on to me.  They’ll be opening at 10am, book a table and you can wave your flag, toast the happy couple and pretend you’re a guest at the reception. When you’re that close to the castle, you can say, “I was totes there’.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Royal Wedding watchers, big groups, lunch with the girls, informal date nights, casual family lunches and after worky drinks. So pretty much everyone.

Not for: If you want a river view, you have to book ahead. People will arm wrestle for those tables and it could get ugly. Make a reservation or leave with the hump. When it’s busy it’s lively and a little on the noisy side. 

££: Reasonable for this touristy town. Starters from £6.95. My prawn dish is £7.95, mains start at £12.95 and go up £32.95 for an 180z T Bone steak. There’s designated kids’ menu, featuring faves burger and chips, chicken goujons and pasta for £6.95 each. 

The Boatman, 10 Thames Side, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1QN  Tel: 01753 620010

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