Shiplake Row, Binfield Heath, HENLEY-ON-THAMES, RG9 4DP
The whitewashed 18th-century property in a village near the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border may look like a rustic old country pub, but the interior tells another story. Granted, the ancient beams and floorboards are still in evidence, but the truth is Orwells is a thrusting contemporary restaurant and its decor fits the mood of our times with mellow duck-egg blue walls, quirky pictures and high-quality tableware. Chef-patrons Liam Trotman and Ryan Simpson have a wealth of experience and have created a little foodie oasis in the green countryside of South Oxfordshire. Their own smallholding just down the road produces around 75 per cent of the fruit and veg used in the kitchen, and what isn't home-grown is sourced with due diligence. This fiercely seasonal approach combined with phenomenal technical skill results in beautifully crafted dishes and relatively complex constructions that seldom fail to impress. A superb piece of seared mackerel is partnered with smoked eel, lardons, tart apple and puréed beetroot, and then, in a paradoxical piece of whimsy, a red-hot kick from silky-smooth horseradish ice cream. Next up, a dish of Herefordshire beef is a perfect celebration of the beast, while a tranche of cod arrives with oysters and leeks in a buttery sauce, and a shard of crispy chicken skin. A dessert of apple and salted caramel is a ball (literally and metaphorically), while a cheesecake brings the winning pairing of rhubarb and custard. Brilliant home-made breads (Wessex brown and sourdough, say), and a very clever amuse bouche inspired by a Lincolnshire Poacher ploughman's, show Orwells' class runs from top to bottom.
Tel: 0118 940 3673
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Days closed: Mon-Tue
Dates closed: 2 wks beg Jan, 1 wk Jun, 2 wks beg Sep
Sunday lunch available.
Days closed for dinner: Sun
Cooking type: Modern British
Chef: Ryan Simpson, Liam Trotman
Number of seats: 40
Accessible for wheelchairs.
A La Carte Dinner Main Course from: £22.00
Sunday lunch: £30.00-£35.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.