Review: The Greene Oak, Windsor
Food reviews are back on the menu and this one's a corker. Owned by two guys from The Ivy stable, serving Michelin rated food, this is a must-try Berkshire gastropub. Ready to tuck in?
We’re spoiled for choice in Berkshire when it comes to fantastic pubs and restaurants – 12 Michelin stars and three Top 50 Gastropubs have been crowned in royal county. But if you’ve never been to The Greene Oak in Windsor, you’re missing out. Owned by James Lyon Shaw and Jamie Dobbin – who met working in the kitchen at London’s celeb haunt The Ivy – they traded in London’s concrete jungle for Windsor’s gilded countryside. London’s loss is Berkshire’s gastronomic gain.
Buzzy and laidback – we arrived on a sunny Saturday lunchtime for Bottomless Brunch – and the downpours stopped long enough for us to pretend it was summer. The pretty garden has packed. Every table each covered by a large parasol was taken and the two horse box tables were full too. Inside was also busy and people just kept arriving throughout the whole service. I’m told this has been the case since the restaurant reopened – weekdays and weekends. Basically if you want to eat here, book ahead.
The vibe is relaxed and welcoming and ticks the boxes when it comes to country pub decor. It’s a dedicated follower of the Farrow & Ball paint chart, exposed beams, tactile wood furniture. But there are quirky touches too. The sink in the loos was on an old Singer sewing machine table (machine still on top) and the converted horse box tables in the garden are my favourite thing ever. Gallop for a horse box for the best seats in the house. It’s a perfect spot to people watch and listen to the live music (lovely acoustic guitar player booked for the Saturday brunch service). If you’ve got kids who can’t sit still (*raises hand), it also means you’re not disturbing any of the diners. Heaven.
For special occasions, there’s a private dining space inside that isn’t entirely cut off from the rest of the pub, so you can still feel the buzz and bustle.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Head Chef Jamie Dobbins spent years in The Ivy kitchen producing fuss-free fabulous food for celebs and star gazers who booked six months in advance. You can see that Ivy DNA at The Greene Oak. The menu is packed full of crowd-pleasing dishes that go from average to exceptional by using quality, seasonal ingredients and a comprehensive knowledge of flavour. *Insert drooling emoji*
Eggs are from Stoke Farm (just down the road). Jamie operates a nose to tail policy – full carcasses are delivered to the kitchen, where the meat is butchered, prepared and aged on site. They cure their own ham and fish is freshly caught from Brixham. The shtick here is that everything is prepared from scratch in the kitchen and the passion for food is evident, from the taste and presentation, to the staff who enthusiastically talk about the dishes.
Having settled into our horse box, we scanned the brunch menu. If you’re indecisive, this could blow your mind as you navigate breakfast, starters, brunch hoagies (posh sarnie), mains and puds, plus a simple kids menu. Eggs feature heavily in the breakfast section, but we need to keep those free-range hens employed.
Tuck it your napkin, we’re going in. Starters: Steak Tartare Melba. It’s a dish that can trip up the best chefs, needing that sharp acidity from the pickled cornichons and shallots to cut through the richness of the beef and egg yolk. It was served with thinly sliced sweet Melba toast to scoop up the goods. I’d recommend a splash of Green Tabasco too. Next level amazing.
My partner in foodie crime ordered the potted shrimp with pickled cucumber. It’s one of the most popular dishes on the menu, and rightly so. Simple, seasoned well and not a scrap left on the plate.
For the mains, I went for breakfast with a twist – a Soft Shell Crab Benedict with Jalapeno Hollandaise. Think buttery soft crumpets, avocado, oozy Hollandaise sauce and a sea salty crunchy crab. The crab’s crispiness gave this dish much needed texture – steering it swiftly away from sloppy. It’s also a whopper, so be sure to trot around the garden between courses. I’d have like a bit more of a Jalapeno kick in the sauce, but I appreciate not everyone likes their food hot hot hot.
Anyone would think we’re longing for a beach holiday, because our other main was a rather beautiful looking plate of Fowey Bay mussels bathing white wine, garlic and cream and served with triple cooked chips. Are you even at a gastropub, if you’re not eating triple cooked chips? I think not. Moules Marinère is a classic yes, but one that can easily go tits up.
For drinks, there were plenty of options including a carefully curated wine list (28 by the glass, including a selection of fine wines, and there are more options by the bottle) plus selection of classic cocktails. The Virgin Mary was a big hit with the designated driver while I hit the bottomless brunch Prosecco.
Let’s talk about the kids. They offer a very reasonable, simple menu for your ankle biters – freshly made fish fingers, chicken goujons and sausages that all come with chips and peas (£7). They’ll also half portions of any dish on the menu if you have offspring with a more sophisticated palette than mine. There’s also a mini Sunday roast (£8) and ice cream and sorbets. It’s safe to say they know their audience.
OUT & ABOUT
You’re on the outskirts of Windsor, who can resist the urge to walk into the footsteps on kings, queens and Elton John. Nose around Windsor, wander the Long Walk, or hobble over the historic cobbles and drink in the history. There’s loads to see: the famous wonky house now home to jewellery store Jersey Pearl, the castle’s blue post box, England’s shortest street and, time it just right, the Changing of the Guard. The Royal Arcade is great for shopping – think Whistles, Jo Malone, Zara, Le Crueset and Mint Velvet. Plus you’re a short walk from the river and Eton College. History nerds and royalists will die and go to heaven – or read our feature here for under-the-radar hidden gems. The rest of you will be here for the food. No judgement.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Foodies, date nights or a special meal out with friends. The food is seriously good. Seasonal dishes made using quality ingredients and portions are generous.
Not for: The food here is unpretentious. If you like your night’s out with deconstructed dishes, frills and foam, you won’t find it here.
The damage: Not too shabby for the quality. The set menu is £16 for two courses or £19 for three, available Monday to Friday. Starters are from £6, Mains are from £14, Puds are £6 and sides are £4 each. For Bottomless Brunch bubbles £20 for unlimited Prosecco or morning cocktails. Or upgrade to endless glasses of Moet & Chandon for £30 (two courses must be ordered). It’s on a par with the county’s gastropub greats.
The Greene Oak, Oakley Green, Windsor SL4 5UW. Tel 01753 864294