8 of the coolest al fresco hangouts in the ‘hood
Festive fun isn't cancelled, it just requires planning and thermal undies. Live out your Last Christmas Wham fantasy with a substantial meal at on these delicious outdoor dining rooms.
If you’re sick of your bubble and want see you pals, you’re gonna need to take it outside. Yes, the temperatures are sub zero, but like that’s going to stop us. Slip into those thermals and book a table at one of Berkshire’s hottest winter hangouts for substantial meal with your five faves.
This is no ordinary al fresco dining space, this is a five star aprés ski-inspired winter wonderland at The Vineyard Hotel in Stockcross. As you would expect from a hotel of this calibre, OutSide is a luxe experience with a giant fire pit, sheepskin rug draped chairs and a BBQ menu to die for. The menu is a selection of small plates you can graze throughout your time there. The menu includes Raclette cheese and ham toastie, goulash with crusty bread; crumpet and potted shrimp, plus mince pies and fully loaded hot chocolate and mulled wine. It’s very good value too: 3 dishes and a drink for £30 and 5 dishes for £40. Additional dishes £7.
The Crown at Bray has always had a fabulous pub garden, but for winter it’s been covered by a giant marquee and showered in sparkle. Dine under a festoon of festive lights, surrounded by pine trees and tuck into seasonal menu of roasted Windsor Estate venison with quince, or halibut with bacon and morels, perhaps finishing with a bright clementine trifle. A prepared four-course set menu is also available for up to six people and keep your eyes peeled for some new additions to wine list from The Fat Duck cellar.
If you’re going to create an aprés ski bar, you might as well go all in and add a ski lift too. The Pheasant Inn at Shefford Woodland has just opened its Moose Bar – a heated outdoor dining space with chairs draped in sheepskin. Expect a menu of crowd-pleasing gastropub fare. If you’re going to eat outside throughout winter you might as well have a giggle at the madness of it all – and The Pheasant’s commitment to the theme means turning up in salopettes is totally OK. Call 01488 648 284 or email to book.
A nod to landlord Andre’s South African roots, The Old Boot‘s ‘Boma’ tipi is a whopper. ‘Boma’ loosely translates as livestock or community enclosure and this is very much a space that welcomes you with open arms to graze. Perfect for tier two dining. 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.
On the Berkshire-Hampshire border, you’ll find two domes outside The Pheasant in Highclere (formerly known as The Yew Tree). This stylish inn was taken over by Billy and Ryan in 2019, and its reputation has soared ever since. They have just opened the domes for the festive season and you can even order a tier two-approved substantial Scotch egg from the menu.
Coppa Clubs infamous igloos are back! Cosy up for winter wonderland dates and parties of six in Coppa Club’s pop-up pods in Sonning. Inspired by French Vineyards, the igloos can be booked for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout December and January.
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. The good news is that it’s all covered, heated and you can enjoy the delicious food with your party of six. Chef-owner Duncan Jones has also lunched a Substantial Menu of small plates including a 4oz burger, sausage and mash and bubble, egg and bacon. Thermals would be advised and perhaps fingerless gloves.
The Last Crumb, Caversham
The Last Crumb in Caversham has not one but four outdoor areas to hangout. in sub zero temperatures. A large tent occupies the car park, plus there are shipping containers with canteen style tables, each with an overhead heater and light. What’s on the menu? Dirty burgers, wings, pizzas and the truffle parmesan chips are heaven. A super-cool pub that wouldn’t look out of place in London’s Shoreditch.