Reading might not be the first place you think of when it comes to gastronomic delights, but Berkshire is actually brimming with culinary talent. From cool new concept members’ clubs to fine Michelin-starred French cuisine, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
Best Restaurants in Reading
The Corn Stores, Reading
The Corn Stores, a beautiful three-story Grade II listed building right by the station, has been transformed into a cocktail bar, steak restaurant and Members’ lounge. Locally sourced British ingredients are at the heart of the menu, devised by John Sparks, whether it’s the meat prepared and aged in the on-site butchery or the salmon smoked in the smokery. The steaks are the hero of The Corn Stores offering, with beef fat chips and macaroni cheese sides making for a real glutton’s delight, but before you tuck in, be sure to take a drink downstairs at the bar. The Corn Stores’ signature cocktail menu alone is worth the train ride out of the city, we’ll take a New Toad Sour and a Butter Old Fashioned, please. thecornstoresreading.co.uk
After an energetic swim alfresco at the beautifully-restored Thames Lido, the chances are you’ll want to eat; luckily in the restaurant you’ll find a most appealing menu on offer. Thanks to strong connections with local producers the menu is tailored to suit the seasons and delivered with sustainability in mind. We’d whole-heartedly recommend the scallops and wood roast hake if you’re in the mood for fish; but check with the team to see what’s looking good for the day. thameslido.com
The woman at the helm here is culinary director Skye Gyngell, who you’ll be familiar with from her work at Spring, Somerset House. Her seed-to-plate philosophy goes further than any other, with almost nothing going to waste, and menus carefully planned around seasonal, estate-grown ingredients. The menu changes with the seasons and the biodynamic farm’s output but choose from the likes of carpaccio of River Test trout, grilled lamb with green tomatoes and swiss chard or roasted wild sea bass with borlotti beans and slow-cooked courgettes (delectable). Vegetarians will delight in the unmatched quality of the seasonal leaves and buttered greens, they really are good enough to eat on their own, and in large quantities. Read more about sustainable dining in our guide, which includes Heckfield Place. heckfieldplace.com
Forgive us for saving the best until last; if it’s Michelin-starred dining you desire, it might come as a surprise that Reading residents can find it right on the doorstep. Having retained its Michelin star for 18 consecutive years, this beautiful Grade-II listed building (that lost its top floor to a war-time bomb) is the perfect place for a romantic dining experience. Top Chef Tom Clarke has crafted a French modern menu with seasonal, local produce at its heart, with truly spectacular offerings for all dietary requirements. The vegetarian dishes in particular shine, the beetroot terrine and goats cheese mousse are excellent. Opt for the gourmand menu for an indulgent journey through L’Ortolan’s finest offerings, allow the excellent sommelier to wine-match your courses and always, always, save space for the cheese course. lortolan.com