Lunch with a view: 21 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!
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).
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.
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
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
Head chef and Masterchef semi-finalist Tom Moody helms the restaurant at this serene Cotswolds bolthole. Come for a delicious dinner overlooking the water, stick around for the fabulous spa and comfy hotel rooms.
The Compleat Angler, Marlow
This foodie hotel by Marlow bridge has more dining options than you could shake a fishing rod at, including the newly-refurbished 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Monkey Island Estate, Bray
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
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
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.