The epitome of French cuisine…… on the banks of the River Thames.
Tucked away, at the end of a small lane in the Berkshire village of Bray, sits the Waterside Inn.
Since 1972 some the best French cuisine, in the world, has been served in this quintessentially English village by the famed Roux family. Awarded its first Michelin star in 1974, & the second in 1977; the coveted third star was bestowed in 1984. Today, the Waterside Inn is the only establishment in the UK to have held three stars for more than 30 years.
14 years ago (the same year as we purchased La Villa to commence our renovations), we enjoyed a fantastic meal & overnight stay at the Waterside Inn, as a special celebration. The meal, the setting, the service and the accommodation were exquisite. As we sat at our table, enjoying that evening’s tasting menu, we talked about our upcoming move to France and what we could take away from our time at the Waterside Inn by way of inspiration for how we would run our new business.
Of course, we never have aspired to serve Michelin star food; but by observing how such a slick team operate, from the moment of arrival to the final departure, it is amazing how much you can glean. It’s the attention to detail in the service industry that makes all the difference and can stand you, and your establishment, apart from the competition. It was, therefore, with immense pride that Michelin gave us recognition in 2014 when (and to this day) we were included in their accommodation guide for France with the top possible rating for a B&B.
This spring, between our two 50th birthdays, we returned to the Waterside Inn for lunch. Very little has changed over the years (thankfully). The food, service & ambiance we had enjoyed, all those years ago, was ever-present. The French flair & passion shone through on a perfect spring day, as we gazed out from our table onto the river where both boats & birds passed slowly by.
The restaurant manager is still the same, and like all of his team, took a genuine interest in us, where we were from and what brought us to the restaurant that day. He was delighted to learn that we had moved to his country of birth and are in the hospitality ourselves; kindly affording us a behind-the-scenes tour of the wonderful kitchens after our meal.
Our returned visit affirmed our belief that, from a 3 Michelin star restaurant to a humble B&B, you can still provide service with pride and passion. It’s the attention to detail that is remembered & remarked upon and we sincerely hope that we can be associated with some of those qualities too.
The Waterside Inn is so much more than a restaurant. It’s a culinary institution, a place for special occasions, memorable times and a place to which we will return once again……one day.