Eat here: Berkshire’s best gastropubs revealed
The Top 50 Gastropub Awards recently took place – celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of the great British pub that serves awesome grub. Organised by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and voted for by industry insiders this is the shortlist that really matters in the gastropub world. Berkshire has four fantastic pubs in the Top 50 – The Beehive, White Waltham; The Crown, Burchetts Green, The Royal Oak Paley Street; and The Pot Kiln, Frilsham. They have quite a lot in common, each taking advantage of local, seasonal ingredients, offering outstanding plates of food in a relaxed, rural setting. And two of them have a shiny Michelin stars too. Have you tried them yet?
The Beehive, White Waltham
The Beehive, ranked 7th, is a real labour of love for Head chef and owner Dom Chapman whose mantra is ‘to feed you and make you happy’. Nestled in the tiny village of White Waltham, this is still very much a pub where as much attention has been lavished on the well-stocked bar as the sensational menu. The kitchen sources locally, but it also aims to represent what the UK’s larder. This means food from the country’s uplands and pastures, its meadows, woods, hedgerows, rivers and seas are all important parts of the menu. Having worked at The Royal Oak Paley Street and Heston’s Fat Duck and Hind’s Head, Dom is passionate about creating beautiful food in a real English pub. Whether you are popping in for a pint or hitting three course, you’ll always get a warm welcome and leave with a smile on your face.
Crown Burchetts Green, Maidenhead
There’s long been a buzz about The Crown at Burchetts Green and having recently been awarded a Michelin star and making the top 10 here, Simon Bonwick’s French bourgeoisie cooking is certainly getting the attention of foodie pilgrims. While the small bar is filled with local drinkers, the two relaxed dining rooms is where the magic happens – showcasing seasonal dishes made with top notch UK and French ingredients. Having previously worked at Albert Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray and Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers, the service is outstanding. Despite all well-deserved fuss about Simon’s food, The Crown maintains its status as a pub – with a resident ghost. The bar area is haunted by a small bearded man with a pony, who also enjoys pottering about in the gastropub’s cellars…
The Royal Oak Paley Street, Maidenhead
The Royal Oak Paley Street (ranked 45), located in leafy Littlefield Green near Maidenhead, is famously known as ‘Parky’s pub’. It’s picked up loads of awards including a Michelin star and three AA rosettes since it opened in 2001. So what makes it special? Well, punters love it for its unpretentious menu with old favourites cooked to perfection whether it be a classic steak or roast lamb. There’s a real emphasis on using seasonal, local ingredients wherever possible. Although pics of Parky interviewing some of his most famous guests lines the walls, the Royal Oak is starting to step from his showbiz shadow. But don’t expect anyone to roll out the red carpet, it’s a place to relax and enjoy great food in good company.
The Pot Kiln, Frilsham, Yattendon
In the heart of Middleton country (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have dined here), The Pot Kiln is heralded as the home of the field to plate menu. Boasting its own deer park and stalking team, this game pub uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients from the pub’s own kitchen garden nearby woodland, fields, hedgerows and rivers. If you’re not keen on Bambi on a plate, there are plenty of other options to tuck into. The bar area is small but serves a good variety of wines as well as West Berkshire Brewery ales. You often find locals propping up the bar or enjoying the beautiful countryside views in the quaint pub garden. The country cousin of Fulham’s Michelin-starred Harwood Arms, The Pot Kiln is a real destination pub with many Londoners heading out at weekends. Stalking royalty rather than deer, I suspect.