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Church Lane, SHINFIELD, Reading, RG2 9BY

The red-brick 17th-century vicarage sits in the leafy embrace of mature trees in immaculately-kept grounds that feel a million miles from the hubbub of Reading and the distant throb of the M4. L'Ortolan has been a fixture in the top flight of British gastronomic destinations for a generation, offering classical cuisine of a distinctly haute nature in a very serious fine dining environment. Inside, the main dining room's crisp linen and posh glassware exude unshowy class, while a conservatory extension looks over the pretty gardens. After appearances on the Great British Menu, executive-chef Alan Murchison's face is not unknown to armchair gourmets, and while his cleverly engineered dishes have their roots in French classicism, there's plenty of up-to-date technical interest to keep modernists happy. Day-to-day interpretation of his style is left in the capable hands of head chef Tom Clarke. With three choices at each stage, the lunchtime menu du jour offers staggering value as an entry point for cooking of this quality. A contemporary take on salade Niçoise gets things going, deep-pink seared tuna as the focus, matched with crispy potato, breaded anchovy, confit tomato, a runny quail's egg and black olive powder. Main course stars corn-fed chicken breast with grilled sweetcorn, smoked potato purée, confit shallot, tarragon, and Dijon mustard sauce. Trading ever upwards, there's also a concise carte, a six-course tasting option, or the whole table can sign up for the all-bells-and-whistles menu gourmand (with a vegetarian version) and why not chuck in the wine flight for good measure? The latter might set off with a dish of seared mackerel with passionfruit, dill and pickled kohlrabi, a finely judged balancing of flavours, all delivered with the trademark eye-catching presentation. Elsewhere, you may find goose liver parfait pointed up with poached rhubarb and sloe gin jelly, or the richness of a main-course pairing of Gressingham duck breast with pommes Anna judiciously tempered with orange and a ginger jus. A creative, skilfully-crafted riff on cherries - macaroon, sorbet, gel, poached, and marinated in Kirsch - paired with bitter chocolate ganache maintains the excitement to the end, or as a savoury alternative, the trolley laden with British and French cheeses is a tantalising option, served with home-made raisin bread and biscuits. Peripherals from breads to appetisers and petits fours all maintain the pace and the notable wine list is a class act, with organic and biodynamic options, and a knowledgeable sommelier guides the way.

Further information

Tel: 0118 988 8500
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Days closed: Sun-Mon
Dates closed: 2 wks Xmas-New Year

Restaurant information

Cooking type: Modern French
Chef: Tom Clarke
Number of seats: 58
Accessible for wheelchairs.
Disabled toilets.
Vegetarian meals available.
Children's portions.
No children under 3 yrs.
Parking available.


Restaurant price guide

2 Course lunch from: £28.00
3 Course lunch from: £32.00
Prices are for guidance only. Please check when booking for current rates.

L'Ortolan, Shinfield
  • L'Ortolan, Shinfield
  • L'Ortolan, Shinfield


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Use the route planner for your trip

From M4 junct 11 take A33 towards Basingstoke. At 1st lights turn left, after garage turn left, 1m turn right at Six Bells pub. Restaurant 1st left (follow tourist signs)
Nearest station: Reading

Local information for RG2 9BY

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