The Waterside Inn
Blood Orange and Mint Mocktail
Reached via £20 roundtrip ticket from Paddington to Maidenhead and a two kilometer walk through English countryside to follow it was mere minutes before my noon reservation that I arrived at Waterside Inn and although as highly rated by Michelin as its Bray neighbor, The Fat Duck, suffice it to say that the two experiences could not possibly have been any different – the formal dining room and riverside locale of Waterside seemingly its only selling points unless one shows up as a septuagenarian dripping in pearls. Perhaps the very definition of hoity-toity and the sort of place where pretense is palpable in air from the moment one walks through the door it was to raised eyebrows and a sneered ‘can I help you’ that I was greeted on entry and after ‘consulting the register’ to confirm my reservation I was taken to the back – a seat on the edge of the room furthest from the river my prize, one leg of my chair literally abutting the stone patio as I was handed a menu and immediately scolded for taking a flashless photo entirely free of noise. At this point already detecting a trend and admittedly a bit perplexed regarding a rule apparently grandfathered in just a few weeks ago it was here that I opted to consult the maitre d’ and with both he and Chef Alain Roux soon arriving tableside after a lengthy delay and some fancy but forgettable canapes a wordy explanation unfurled – the end result me walking out of a Michelin 3* establishment after the words “I’ve been managing restaurants since before you were born” trickled from one of their mouths.
RECOMMENDED: Free Canapes?
AVOID: Being young and caring about your food more than the ‘exclusivity of the experience and protection of our patrons.’
TIP: Having dined both with multi-millionaires and persons receiving Medicaid benefits I’ve not once experienced the degree of classist behavior I saw at Waterside Inn. Tall enough that it would have been difficult for anyone in the room to truly ‘look down’ on me I guess I can instead check-off ‘nose in the air’ as a more appropriate descriptor of everyone from the door to the dining room. With The Fat Duck mere meters away and Heston’s two Pubs equally close by suffice it to say your time and money can be put to far better use in the Town of Bray.