Simon Bonwick operates on his own in the tiny kitchen of this little pub near Maidenhead, making everything from scratch including baking bread every day. The meal tonight began with Cromer crab with tomatoes and olives, with a lemon and olive oil dressing. This was very enjoyable, the crab of high quality, the dressing providing a pleasing freshness (14/20).
My starter was smoked eel along with an eel croquette with jack of the hedge (a wild herb that, when crushed, smells a little like garlic), garlic and a bacon garnish. This was very pleasant, the eel, bacon and garlic flavours going nicely together (13/20).
Wild halibut was served with spiced onions and vegetables and yuzu sauce. The fish was precisely cooked and had excellent flavour, and worked really well with the onions with their Indian spices (15/20). On the side were particularly good beetroot, sand carrots and butter beans with garlic.
We tasted a perfectly ripe Brillat Savarin cheese served with home-made flapjacks, and there was a pre-dessert of classically made crème caramel with golden raisins (14/20). The main dessert was even better: rum baba with pears and blackberries grown in the garden at the back of the pub. Rum baba is a tricky dessert that easily dries out, but here it was moist and served with Crème Chantilly, the fruits beautifully ripe (15/20).
Service was excellent, one of the chef’s sons (Dean) serving us tonight; he previously worked at les Pres Eugenie and The Waterside inn. The bill came to an absurdly reasonable £33 a head for the food. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then you could expect to pay about £50 a head for three courses with coffee and tip. This is very fair for what is skilfully prepared food. This was my third meal here and each has been better than the last. It is a highly enjoyable, relaxed experience.