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AA Notable Wine List 2018-19
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

Read more about AA ratings and awards

Consummate modern gastronomy in a former vicarage

AA Inspector

At a glance

Vegetarian menu
Tasting menu
Private dining
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access
Service charge

A sophisticated high-end operation, L’Ortolan is a name synonymous with modern British gastronomy since the 1980s, with big-hitting names like Nico Ladenis, John Burton-Race and Alan Murchison all gracing its kitchen. Now, rising-star chef Tom Clarke brings renewed prestige and sparkle with his take on vibrant contemporary cooking, raising the bar at the smart, country-house style restaurant (once a vicarage) in Reading’s hinterland close to the M4. Underpinned by classical French grounding, Tom’s highly detailed and technically savvy, adventurous cooking is honed from a larder of seasonal ingredients and delivered with flavour and gusto via jour, carte and gourmand or surprise tasting menus. Intricate presentation is to the fore, with pretty plates spun with surprise elements; take ‘melting’ torched mackerel with horseradish and beetroot to open proceedings, its intelligently balanced marriage of textures, colours and flavours hitting top marks. Mains ambition doesn’t falter either; perhaps succulent glazed duck breast accompanied by apricot and lavender, or ocean-fresh pan-fried sea bream served with basil gnocchi and bouillabaisse. Equally smart desserts, like orange and yuzu tart with pickled butternut squash and buttermilk ice cream continue the high-energy delivery. Wines give France and Italy prime time, while the rest of Europe and the New World have a voice, but with a softer accent. Staff are as smartly turned out as the modern furnishings, and are expectedly professional and informed. A dinky chef’s table in the kitchen, relaxing bar and private dining rooms round-off a polished act, alongside all the extra fine-dining accoutrements like canapés, pre-desserts and petit fours.

Opening hours

  • Closed: 2 weeks Christmas to New Year
  • Days closed: Sunday to Monday
  • Lunch served from: 12
  • Lunch served until: 2
  • Dinner served from: 7
  • Dinner served until: 9


  • Chef(s): Tom Clarke

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Modern French
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines under £30: 1
  • Wines over £30: 210
  • Wines by the glass: 17

Price guide

  • Starter from: £12.50
  • Main course from16
  • Dessert from: £11
  • Tasting menu from: £79
  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted


  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Accessible toilets
  • Assist dogs welcome

Additional information

  • Seats: 58
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 22
  • On-site parking available

Getting here

From M4 junction 11 take A33 towards Basingstoke. At first lights turn left, after garage turn left, 1 mile turn right at Six Bells pub. Restaurant first left (follow the tourist signs).

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