I’m reluctant to write very much about any of these places. Of all the local places I’ve covered, these are probably the most heavily reviewed and well-known. I’ve contented myself with a few comments and an indication of when I last visited.
Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham
Last visited: 2010
This may not be as visually grand a place as some of the others on this list, but I feel far more comfortable here as a result. The prices are very reasonable considering the brilliance of the food, and both of the chef’s cookbooks sit in my collection to be pored over and marvelled at in turn.
I’m still wondering what some of the things were on my plate from my last visit, and kicking myself for not asking (by that point I’d eaten them so had nothing left to point at). I do like being challenged and surprised by food, especially when it tastes so good.
Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton
Last visited: 2009
A stunning location with beautiful gardens, impeccable service and wonderful food. We feel obliged to go to great lengths to try and look smart when we go here, though, which dents our enjoyment a little due to pinching shoes and clothes not suited for slouching.
This is the perfect place for a romantic occasion, and there are even rooms available, but money needs to be no object.
The Fat Duck, Bray
Last visited: c.2005
An experience like none other. Maybe you won’t fall in love with every dish on the tasting menu, but the spectacle, imagination and perfection of the many courses make for a truly unforgettable night.
The Waterside Inn, Bray
Last visited: c.2005/6
As the valet expertly relieved us of our Ford Ka, our stomachs sank a little. Our fancy clothes were already starting to chafe, and when I was given a menu without prices on, we realised we were so far out of our comfort zone that pretty soon, we should be coming up on it from the other side.
The food was amazing, especially the assiette of desserts, but I think it’ll be a good few years more before we feel ready to go back. Perhaps when our hair is a little more silvered and we’ve cleaned the car.
The Restaurant at The Vineyard at Stockcross, Stockcross
Last visited: c.2005/6
I have never-yet-achieved plans to go back here for a Sunday lunch. Our previous visit was for dinner (tasting menu) and very delicious it was. It sits somewhere between Le Manoir and Le Champignon for formality (at least it did way back when), but shares the same high standards and excellent cooking.