The people of Bray are a bit smug. And with good reason. Their sleepy, traditional English village is home to both Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and the Roux’s Waterside Inn. Not bad to have two of Britain’s most famous restaurants within spitting distance of your front door. For us mere mortals who do not have their postcode privilege, Bray is a gastronomic idyll just forty minutes from London.
So on a beautifully sunny Sunday in January, I found myself in a taxi winding its way through the antiquated village and up to the gloriously understated front door of the Waterside Inn. Upon arrival we were seated in the reception room and given Roux’s champagne and canapés. Everything about the inn is rustic chic, if that’s a thing. It has the charm of a countryside cottage combined with daringly modern decor.
After the tartare burgers, a seemingly risky choice for canapé and certainly a bold start to the meal, we chose the degustation menu and were seated in the restaurant at a table by the window. The view is spectacular, particularly in the chilly winter sunshine.
It seems there’s not much to say about the Roux’s cooking that hasn’t already been said. Everything was perfect, with the seared foie gras trumping all.
Going into the Waterside Inn is a bit like stepping out of reality and taking cover in a parallel universe that is at once set in the 1940s and in the royal suite of the refurbished Savoy. Go, spend an entire day experiencing it, and then leave immediately removing all memory of that elusive luxury and, more importantly, of the price.