The best pubs for a sundowner
So, as we’re all now free to roam (a little), it’s time to search out the best pubs in Berkshire that have the added benefit of a scenic view. Aperol Spritz (and Instagram) at the ready.
They’ve been a long time coming: summer, eating out, seeing other human beings. But, finally, all being well, it looks like we might have a stab at something resembling normality this year. So, dream no longer, book yourself a table at one of these and remind yourself what English summers are all about.
The Pot Kiln, Frilsham
Wowzers! That is quite the view. The Pot Kiln in Frilsham (yes it is one of my locals) is a favourite of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when visiting Ma and Pa Middleton. It has recently undergone a big refurbishment, adding rooms and extending the kitchen and dining room. They have a new garden menu, with plenty of game dishes and ingredients from the wild food larder. Grab a table, the view is breathtaking. You will most certainly see horses and cows grazing and, if you’re lucky, you can spot deer on the hill opposite.
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.
The Greene Oak, Windsor
Outside the touristy hustle and bustle of Windsor town centre, you’ll find the Greene Oak gastropub. This modern inn has a lovely sunny garden, surrounded by trees and fields, but we’re here for the funky horsebox tables. No other view necessary, pop us in the box, with a bottle of Picpoul de Penet and we’ll be swishing our mane and tail ’til closing. What it lacks in rolling hills and rivers it makes up with quirky, style points. 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.
The Five Bells, Wickham
Head into Bake Off country (a place familiar with a big tent) and you’ll find the Five Bells in Wickham. It’s a stunning, thatched 17th century inn with a large garden and countryside views to die for. There are plenty of covered outdoor seating areas, but pick a table with uninterrupted views of the rural landscape.
The Blackbird, Bagnor
The Blackbird in Bagnor, owned by chef Dom Robinson, is an understated Michelin star gastropub in a village that’s very easy on the eye. The River Lambourn babbles in the background, cloaked in willow trees with swans, geese and ducks bobbing about. It’s about as quintessentially English as it gets. Right now, the Michelin star food is on hold, but you can order sour dough pizzas, courtesy of Paloma Pizzas, to soak up your sundowners.
The Belgian Arms, Holyport
Table with a view, madam, when it looks this pretty it would be rude not to. The Belgian Arms in Holyport is set back from the village green with a great view of the pond. It’s a relaxed pub with a decent wine and beer list. If you fancy a bite, the food has a really good rep – seasonal, reasonably priced and delicious. It’s a fuss-free but fabulous.
Dundas Arms, Kintbury
In the pretty village of Kintbury, West Berkshire, you’ll find the rather lovely Dundas Arms. It’s nestled on the River Kennet and boasts a rather lovely views of the water and enough grassy space for the your little people to let off steam without being annoying. Leaving your to to watch the narrow boats pootle along while you work your way through a bottle of Chablis. Reserve your spot in the garden or on the terrace, they offer a QR code menu and you’ll be bathing in hand sanitiser. Be a safety girl.
The Woodspeen, Newbury
In the mood for something a little more refined? The Woodspeen is a Michelin star restaurant that quietly twinkles without much fuss. This former rundown pub has a stylish Scandi vibe restaurant, serving seasonal dishes using homegrown ingredients. The outside terrace is a crowd pleaser with views of wild flowers and countryside views. The kick-back spot dreams.
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. The igloos are up right now but there are tables on the terrace and in the garden too. A little slice of al fresco heaven.
The Old Boot is surrounded by open countryside. The large garden has uninterrupted views – the perfect spot to decompress after a busy week. The menu is packed full of comforting pub classics, generously portioned and done very well. If the chateaubriand is on the menu, order it. It’s one of the best we’ve ever had.
Coppa Club, 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.
The Beehive, White Waltham
We’re a sucker for a pretty village pub and The Beehive, run by Chef Dom Chapman has the sort of spot that inspires writers. Think Midsomer Murders – period red brick gastropub with views across the cricket pitch and a relaxed atmosphere for much-deserved blow out.