Dining out in Sunninghill and Sunningdale
PUBLISHED: 01:16 15 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:59 20 February 2013
Whether you seek a decent lunch at reasonable cost or want to push the boat out, there's a fabulous choice of dining spots in Sunninghill and Sunningdale, with menus to suit all tastes.
The Tigers Pad Sunningdale Lounge Ascot Oriental The Carpenters Arms The Berystede The Royal Berkshire Vanilla Brasserie The Barn at Coworth Park Bluebells Belvedere Arms
For those sapped of enthusiasm for the same-old, same-old curry house menu, this restaurant takes a unique, regional approach to Indian cooking, breaking with the norm in favour of innovative dishes concocted by chef, Ajoy Sachdev, that have landed the restaurant a string of awards and a loyal local following. The tiger print dcor might seem a little garish, but the food certainly isnt, so enjoy the likes of king prawns in saffron sauce (5.95), fresh chilli crab on naan (5.95), tamarind and honey duck cooked in the tandoor (11.95), crispy fried okra (4.95) then homemade kulfi and halva for dessert.
A classier, smarter more subdued breed of hostelry, Sunningdale Lounge nonetheless retains the friendly warmth of a pub. Owners Dave and Lilly see the venture as a dream come true and welcome guests as old friends to the contemporary surrounds of high, leather bar stools, polished food floors and funky wallpaper. The menu also, is customer centric, with a please-all selection of firm favourites at not unreasonable prices. Fillet steak, perhaps Berkshires cheapest at only 12.95, comes with roasties and green beans, lamb cutlets in Madeira sauce weigh in at 1 less, and a three course Sunday roast looks generous for 16.95.
With Ascot Orientals almost never-ending selection of Pan-Asian classics and more modern inspirations, those harbouring a picky eater need fret no more. And the celebs agree. Marco Pierre White, Terry Wogan and Sir Cliff have all eaten here, no doubt appreciating the smart, surrounds as much as the food. Chef Konrad Liu, sweeps the Asia-Pacific region with classic Shanghai pork dumplings (7.95) alongside a more creative asparagus and lotus root tempura (7.80). Teriyaki tuna fillet (18) might share a table with fillet of bass and preserved plum, lemon and basil (12), or even roast duck green curry with bamboo shoots (10.25).
Think The Waterside Inn is the only place in Berkshire youll find menus still written in French? Think again. But The Carpenters Arms largely Gallic offerings do come with an English translation so at least youll know what youre ordering from the likes of country-style terrine with mushroom pickles (6.95), fondue Savoyard for two (26.95), slow roasted lamb shoulder with flagelot beans (17.95), duck confit with green beans and potatoes (14.95) or the indispensible snails in garlic and parsley (6.95). More of a surprise will be the setting: French food in a British pub? Anglo-French relations have never seemed cosier.
Ok, so its a four star hotel but perhaps Berystedes biggest boon for diners is The Hyperion Restaurants roof terrace; not that a flood of natural light, plush carpets, fresh flowers and high-backed chairs go amiss either. The food here has won an AA rosette and is adventurous without being inaccessible, so rather than plain old pate, chicken livers end up in a terrine with ham hock and pickled grapes (7.25), black bream sits atop crab linguine with saffron (7.95) and sirloin steak gets a break from chips in favour of artichoke barigoule, parsnip pure, oxtail jus for 21.50.
Popular for weddings and Legoland day trippers, The Royal Berkshires 18th century mansion and 15 acres of landscaped grounds originally built for The Churchill family, also play host to the Little Paddocks Restaurant with views over its pretty gardens and croquet lawn. Stripped floors and panelled walls add a touch of rusticity to the double-laid table clothes and reflect food thats well made and familiar more than adventurous. Crab and prawns are wrapped in smoked salmon alongside horseradish crme frache (6.25), roast duck comes with celeriac mash, red cabbage and spiced plum pure (16.50), perhaps followed by lemon cheesecake with elderflower for 5.50.
Part of Sunningdales burgeoning miniature food empire, the Vanilla Group, Vanilla Brasserie counts Lewis Butches, Cut & Cook cooking school, Vanilla Parties and Delicatessen among its sister establishments. For that reason expect good meat, perhaps award-winning pork and herb sausages with mash and onion gravy (11), or push the boat out on Cote de Boeuf for two with fries, mushroom, tomato, watercress and a choice of sauces (44). Bookend with scallops, pancetta and cauliflower for 16, and lemon tart for dessert, or pop in at lunch for sandwiches such as salt beef or vanilla club sandwiches both at 9 with fries and salad.
Considering youll find it nestling within Coworth Parks 260 acres, The Barn is surprisingly down to earth. A conversion of the Georgian manor houses actual barn, it retains towering brick walls, stone-slab flooring and beamed rafters, adding suspended copper pan set ornaments, an open kitchen, bench-style seating and a vast open fireplace, all looking through ceiling height glass over a terrace and onto polo fields. Food is simple British fare done with finesse. Expect Caesar salad bacon and egg (8), follow with fish cakes, watercress and poached eggs (15), then what could be more patriotic than Earl Grey ice cream and garibaldi biscuits (7.50)?
An A road between Sunningdale and Virginia Water isnt the most obvious location for such a smart, contemporary restaurant but theres no noticing the traffic among Bluebells deep-pile carpets, brick-lined fire places, ceiling height windows and net-drapery partitioning. Food is equally elegant if more adventurous, perhaps including smoked rabbit rillette, pickled quail eggs, peas and rhubarb chutney (10.95), then halibut with a broad bean, baby gem, mussel and crayfish fricassee (27.50). Should a la carte prices sting the 17.50 lunch menus roulade of smoked salmon, trout and caviar with pickled cucumber or tuna with fennel, tapenade, pickled peppers and salsa verde will be far more palatable.
While youll struggle to push the boat out at The Belvedere Arms, choice-wise, its doubtful a pub could offer more. Think classic gastropub looks wooden floors, beams exposed but unemphasised, cream-washed walls clean, welcoming and inoffensive. Two courses are available at lunch and early evening for only 12.95 and might include goats cheese, fennel, apple and courgette salad then chicken scallopini, tomato & red onion salad and frites; but with starters like dolcelatte and pear tart or lamb kofta hovering at 7, then a vast list of pizza, pasta, sharing plates and mains, few of them pushing 12, why go for the budget option?
The Tigers Pad
The Carpenters Arms
The Royal Berkshire
The Barn at Coworth Park