An invitation to lunch at the new Riverside Brasserie, which looks out over the River Thames to Monkey Island from Bray Marina, came through on what was going to be the hottest week in the UK, so it would have been madness to turn it down. There can be no finer place than to have lunch by the river, watching the world go by.
The restaurant is located 5 minutes from Maidenhead Station, on the river bank alongside Bray Marina and not to be confused with the Riverside Hotel further down the river. It is accessed down a long windy track, which some taxi drivers are not fully aware of for any destination other than the Marina. So it is advised you ask to go to “The Riverside Brasserie at Bray Marina” to ensure you get to the right place.
Obviously you could arrive by boat, as some of the visiting diners were, there being mooring at the restaurant and the nearby river bank.
We were greeted by the friendly head waitress, and offered a table inside or out. The weather was perfect, so we sat outside on a large terraced area that drops down to the river. Whilst here to sample the food, it was also a great place to relax, the calmness of the river and the boats slowly passing by simply taking any daily stress away.
There was a mix of people dining, from a small group of older boat owners, through to a newly engaged couple enjoying the romance of the location.
The weather was great and with the sun blazing down from an azure blue sky, a bottle of Cotes de Provence Rose Delice on ice was a perfect match for the occasion. The wine list, whilst not extensive, covered the major wines that anyone would want, and with bottles starting at £18.50 and Champagne at £34.00 it certainly offered value for money. The cocktail and spirits menu was extensive, and well matched in offerings to the range off nationalities coming along the river; Russian Vodkas, American Bourbon, British Scotch(?) to name a few.
The Lunch Menu has a great range of nibbles, starters and small plates, sandwiches and sharing platters as well as the classic mains. The sharing platters were all £4.50 and offered great value to those wanting a lighter lunch or a romantic liaison.
Placing our order, we and enjoyed a couple of cocktails – hers a raspberry fizz and mine a classic English champagne cocktail; champagne with a lump of sugar soaked in cognac. A nicely presented board of bread and olives arrived, allowing leisurely nibbles whilst waiting for our food to arrive.
My date had ordered the Rare Sirloin of Beef Salad with Mustard Mayonnaise and Baby Watercress to start, and was expecting a small dish. She actually got a very decent amount of beef on what could have been considered a main size in many other places. Complaining about the effect on her figure she ate it all.
I chose the classic Caesar Salad, which arrived with a soft poached egg on top. It clearly passed the ‘yoke test’, oozing a gorgeous runny orange when cut. I could have taken better pictures of it but it was too appetizing to let get cold.
After the beef, she ordered a lighter main course – Swordfish Nicoise which was a subtle little twist on a classic. Not ‘fishy’, the swordfish steak sat on a salad of beans, tomatoes, olives and watercress, with a bowl of dressing on the side. Comment from her were that the beans were perfectly crunchy and made the salad refreshingly light.
I had chosen the Rump of Lamb with Broad Beans and Chorizo. The lamb was tender, cut not too thinly, and full of the delicate flavour you get from lamb and its aromatic fat. The chorizo was just a bit too strong flavoured, and at times could hide the lamb, but this was made up for the broad beans being the freshest baby beans, apparently the first of the season. I cleaned my plate!
The Dessert Menu had a good summer range, as well as a cheese board that you could add a good range of cheeses to. Soft and hard cheeses available, this is what my date chose.
Looking out over the slowly moving river, and knowing we were so close to Eton, I had to go for the Eton Mess. Beautifully served in that random way, it was the ideal treat for a summer lunch.
The Riverside Brasserie is open seven days a week, with breakfast served from 10am to noon and also a riverside afternoon tea from 3pm to 6pm in addition to the fine lunch and dinner.
Monkey Island Lane,
Berkshire SL6 2EB
01628 780 553