Messing around by the River in Bray at the Riverside Brasserie:
The last time I was anywhere near Monkey Island, I happened to be in a boat cruising the River Thames. We passed various restaurants along the way and I remember feeling more than a little envious about the lucky diners, sitting watching the world go by while they ate. So, an invitation to review the Riverside Brasserie, which looks out to Monkey island from Bray Marina, was one not to be missed.
It is probably nicer to arrive by boat as some of the other guests had done. But sadly neither time nor budget would allow me to do that, so I settled for a taxi from Maidenhead station instead. Initially I wasn’t sure we were in the right place, the Brasserie is to one side of the Marina, down a tiny country lane. But, we arrived to welcoming staff and a beautiful table looking out over the river.
The Riverside Brasserie lunch menu is a good mixture of light dishes, salads and sharing platters with a few main dishes thrown in for those with an appetite at lunch-time. The evening menu is a little more extensive but we had no problem picking dishes to try.
While we waited both of us enjoyed a glass of fizz – mine a raspberry fizz while Simon had a classic champagne cocktail (champagne with a lump of sugar soaked in cognac). And, a pretty board of bread and olives arrived. Perfect to nibble on while we waited.
I’d ordered the rare sirloin of beef salad with mustard mayonnaise and baby watercress to start. I DID ask for a small portion, honestly. I somehow managed to eat the whole thing, which was beautifully presented and nicely pink in the middle. I suspect I’d have been quite happy with just this and a dessert…but there were main courses to come too.
Simon’s classic caesar salad arrived with a poached egg on top. That’s something which clearly needs the yolk test.
It passed with flying colours, though I had to steal a photo from my dining companion because it was all consumed far too quickly.
I’d ordered a light main course – swordfish nicoise which was just a little twist on a classic. An egg lover might have thought the dish just a bit short in that department, but since I generally avoid anything too eggy it suited me very well. The trickiest element of this dish is the beans, which have to be cooked but not soggy. Here, they were perfectly al-dente just as they should be.
Meanwhile Simon had chosen the rump of lamb with broad beans and chorizo, a lovely seasonal dish with those tiny broad beans you only get at this time of the year. It looked fabulous and I was told the lamb was perfectly tender and beautifully flavoured.
The Riverside Brasserie has an excellent selection of dishes to make up sharing platters which include some wonderful cheeses, so rather than dessert I opted for the cheese board. Now, possibly because I’ve just come back from a trip to France I thought the soft cheeses in the selection needed to have been served a little closer to room temperature and having had a good chance to breathe. But, that’s my personal taste.
Meanwhile, Simon was happily working his way through a very large portion of Eton mess.
We shared a bottle of cotes de provence rose cuvee Chateau des Ferrages, a perfect drink for a warm summer afternoon.
I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at the Riverside Brasserie, as much for the ambience as for the food. It WAS the perfect setting for a sunny summer’s day and I’d be very happy to return any time. The restaurant is open seven days a week, with breakfast served from 10am to noon and a riverside afternoon tea from 3pm in addition to lunch and dinner. A good excuse to stop if you are cruising past.
MONKEY ISLAND LANE,
BRAY, BERKSHIRE SL6 2EB