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Lunch with a view: 23 top riverside eats

Ahh, is there anything better than a stroll along the riverside? Actually, yes - a riverside that includes a long lazy lunch and some stonking views across Bucks or Oxon!

Isis Farmhouse, Iffley

No car access to this bucolic spot by the river at Iffley Lock – you’ll have to walk (it’s about 30 mins from Christchurch Meadow in the city centre), row or cycle. The garden is enormous – like, three acres enormous – and you can sit in the shade of its huge trees as you gaze across the river.

Cherwell Boathouse, Oxford

Expect a refined menu alongside your waterside vistas at this AA Rosette restaurant set in an authentic Victorian boathouse. There’s also the option to hire punts if you fancy a trip down the river after your lunch (just be careful if you’ve been quaffing Champers).

The Nag’s Head, Abingdon

Island dining in Oxfordshire? Yep you read that right! Situated on Abingdon Bridge, The Nag’s Head has a belter of a location right on the Thames, with views of boats gliding down the the river and pretty Abbey Meadows from the large garden island.

The Trout Inn, Wolvercote

trout river british summer

The definition of bucolic riverside dining, The Trout Inn – just north of Oxford – sits on the banks of the Lower Thames and boasts a riverside terrace to boot, making it a hotspot for lazy, summertime drinking. Choose a late afternoon slot and enjoy the river idling past as the sun comes down.

Minster Mill, Witney

Minster Mill

Scoff a three AA Rosette dinner inspired by local, seasonal ingredients in the restaurant at this serene Cotswolds bolthole. Come for the food overlooking the water, stick around for the fabulous spa and comfy hotel rooms.

The Beetle & Wedge, nr Wallingford

The Beetle & Wedge occupies an especially picturesque part of Oxfordshire that inspired Wind in the Willows and Three Men in a Boat. The dining room is an elegant beamed boathouse with white-linen tablecloths and mains nudging the £20 mark, which give it more of a chi-chi restaurant feel than a gastropub experience. Make sure you allow time to walk off your meal afterwards and take in those views – just turn right and stroll along the waterside path

The Compleat Angler, Marlow

This foodie hotel by Marlow bridge has more dining options than you could shake a fishing rod at, including the Riverside Restaurant (perfect for date night), Indian eatery Sindhu run by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, or afternoon tea on the lawn overlooking the water.

Jacob’s Inn, Wolvercote

Jacobs Inn

Okay, so you technically can’t see the river from the garden, but it’s only a stone’s throw away, and we promise the al fresco dining at Jacob’s Inn is worth it all the same. This quirky pub is popular with people spending a day by the water in Port Meadow.

The Black Horse, Great Linford

house boats going down a canal next to a pub on a clear day

Sitting right on the Grand Union Canal in North Bucks, The Black Horse has a multi-level garden and a shaded courtyard to perch in while you enjoy your Sunday lunch. There’s also a great children’s menu here for families.

The Victoria Arms, Old Marston

Perched on the banks of the River Cherwell this family friendly pub boasts cracking views as well as mooring available for punts. Kids will love the open space; you’ll love the classic pub fare menu.

De Vere Latimer Estate, Chesham

De Vere Latimer Estate

Nothing as deliciously la-di-dah as a stately home overlooking the water, and De Vere Latimer Estate in Chesham ticks all the boxes for a riverside stay. For food, you have the elegant 1838 Restaurant & Bar (which looks like something out of an Art Deco postcard) or afternoon tea at the Huntley Bar.

Bistro at the Boathouse, Henley

Open from breakfast to dinner, this elegant family-run restaurant in Henley is the perfect place to watch the boats glide by. All booking are allocated inside the restaurant but if the sun’s shining you can choose to sit outside on arrival.

The Angel on the Bridge, Henley 

Dating back to 1728, this Grade II listed pub in buzzy Henley has quintessentially English pub interiors – think exposed beams, fireplace – and a stunning views of the river on the terrace.

Danesfield House, Marlow

Danesfield House

Last time I visited Danesfield it was the for a spa day (I know, what an effort), but did you know the tranquil gardens also have a lovely view of the river? Combine with a lunch or dinner at The Orangery restaurant or an afternoon tea on The Terrace and you’re onto a winner.

The Navigation Inn, Cosgrove

Devour your wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas while overlooking the Grand Union Canal at this modernised Victorian inn dating back to 1822, with its lovely outdoor terrace and balcony.

The Perch, Binsey

The Perch pub garden

Follow the path out of The Perch’s pretty garden and duck under the willow arches and you’ll find yourself on the banks of the Thames overlooking Port Meadow. It’s the ideal spot for a postprandial stroll and the kids will feel like they’ve discovered a secret.

Cliveden House Hotel, Taplow

cliveden statue house

Overlooking the Thames, Cliveden House is an iconic fine dining destination. Thoroughly recommend for a special occasion – you can take a civilised stroll down to the river after enjoying an afternoon tea or dinner in the Cliveden Dining Room. Not close enough to the water for you? Residents can order a tailor-made picnic to take out on an a vintage boat launch.

Waterfront Cafe, Benson

Relaxed dining here at this long-established waterside favourite. There’s a huge terrace where you can eat anything from sour dough sandwiches through to fish and chips. Boat hire for kayaks or put-put boats is right next door for a lovely meander down the Thames.

Further afield…

The Crown at Ampney Brook, The Cotswolds

Set on the banks of a bucolic, babbling brook, this beautiful 16th century inn has recently undergone a stunning restoration and has been transformed into an incredibly stylish and welcoming place to unwind. Watch your chef in action from the open copper kitchen or sit outside on the cool Argentinian Fire Terrace or in one of the three private dining pods with gorgeous views over the brook. Making a weekend of it? Stay over at Wild Thyme & Honey, The Crown’s sister boutique hotel next-door.

The St George and Dragon, Wargrave

The St George and Dragon, Wargrave

The terrace of this cozy pub and restaurant is so close to the river that you could moor your boat just outside and then pop in for a bite to eat (or to take advantage of their excellent gin menu). It’s technically just over the border in Berks, but we’ll forgive it for these views.

Monkey Island Estate, Bray

Monkey Island Estate

You can’t get more riverside than your own island in the Thames! Situated a hop over the border in Berkshire, this fascinating centuries-old hotel is like a trip back in time – apart from the food in its Brasserie, which is thoroughly modern.

Thames Lido, Reading

Thames Lido

Work up an appetite for lunch at past Muddy Award-winner Thames Lido, with its restaurant nestled between the excellent outdoor pool and the River Thames. Whether you take a dip in the waters or a stroll along the river, you’ll want to dive into their excellent tapas menu (sorry).

The Waterside Inn, Bray

Image: Jamie Lau

The only bigger draw than the stonking riverside location is The Waterside Inn’s three Michelin stars – a true foodie retreat with fine wines, French-inspired cuisine and an eye-watering price tag.

1 comment on “Lunch with a view: 23 top riverside eats”

  • Paul Preece August 18, 2021

    Been to a few of these, all of which have served good food. Loved brunch at The Boathouse, sun was out and it was very relaxed. For relaxed class, the Waterside was something else. We arrived on an antique boat with all its finery having set sail from Marlow and were met on the quayside. There were 8 of us for lunch and both food and service were impeccable. I also love the fact that these so called ‘posh’ restaurants can have a relaxed atmosphere. I always think that if you are the guest and you are paying what is a lot of money, then you can enjoy yourself as much as you like.


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