Restaurant of the Year winner at the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Food & Drink Awards 2015
PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:24 26 November 2015
The Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Restaurant of the Year needs to offer an incomparable dining experience, from the ambience to the service and most importantly the food.
Sponsored by David Cliff
Winner: Oakley Court
Judges comments: “From arrival to the final after dinner ‘treats’ and digestifs at Oakley Court, the service is exemplary, knowledgeable and personable, without any hint of patronisation. The team dress in an informal style which is friendly and relaxing, yet still respectful and clean. There is a clear definition of roles between the Front of House Manager, Restaurant Manager, Sommelier and Kitchen, all were welcoming and professional. It was great that one of the chefs came out to present our canapés to us. The Sommelier, Alex’s, knowledge and passion is refreshing and enveloping. From a fantastic wine list that he has selected come tasters of styles that are carefully considered to suit one’s palate and menu choices. We went for the pescetarian tasting menu which had 7 courses. Each menu is very simple with a couple of choices for starters, mains and dessert. It changes daily drawing on what is fresh from the gardens, the locality and uses the best in seasonal produce from many local producers – “We let the food speak for itself” says Head Chef Damian Broom. For instance the honeycomb served with their local cheese comes from their own swarm and you could taste the rapeseed from which the bees had harvested their nectar. All of the team are fully averse with the menu, are proud of its high quality and the provenance of its ingredients – this shone through at every stage. The menu itself is inspirational – simple, fine dining using modern kitchen methods to perfection, beautifully presented and driven by taste and palate, using a simple smattering of clever flavour to frame each part of the dish - it was truly delicious. We ate celeriac with herbs and truffle; goat’s cheese with sea buckthorn and hazelnuts; turbot with house smoked eel and marmite umami sauce; pine nuts and sunflower seeds risotto with parsnip and chervil roots from the garden; Oxford Blue with Oakley honeycomb; Jersulaem artichoke ice cream with fried artichoke skin and apple; Skyr with passion fruit and carrot, all finished off with an exquisite platter of sweet treats. The aspiration of this small but very tight knit team is to aim for 3 AA Rosettes in 2016, when I asked Damian what he felt he needed to do to get a Michelin star, his reply was a relaxed and honest “nothing” – I think he is quite probably right!”
Highly commended: Berry’s Taplow House Hotel
Highly commended: Humphry’s, Stoke Park