The Beetle & Wedge Boathouse
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I’ve wanted to try out The Beetle & Wedge Boathouse restaurant in Moulsford for sooooo long, and I’m glad to say I’ve finally made it there with my mother, my ever-willing wing-lady (no, not bingo-wing lady, she’s in really good nick, thanks very much) on restaurant and pub jaunts.
It’s such a pretty part of Oxfordshire around here, just south of Wallingford and nudging the border of Berkshire with Streatley and Goring only minutes away, and the River Thames the common theme, winding south past each gorgeous village.
The Beetle & Wedge plays heavily on its river credentials, as it should since it’s amongst the prettiest river frontages I’ve seen in Oxfordshire. In my never ending quest to stop putting on weight (quite a hope given the amount I eat out), we started with a walk, parking up a the restaurant and then turning right to the river on the advice of locals who told me this was by far the prettiest direction. It’s basically a straight stretch of mostly open land right next to the river and just lovely, with wild flowers, butterflies, boat-owners waving and all that bucolic English stuff. The large spaces means it’s perfect for throwing a ball, or walking the dog, or letting the kids run riot. I’ve collaged a few pics below.
We walked as far as Goring Sailing Club, about half an hour’s meander, then realised we’d better turn back to make our booking.
Inside the restaurant feels quite grown up – white table cloths, safely tasteful decor.
It’s the sort of place you’d come for a romantic dinner (there are three bedrooms if you want to stay over) or lunch with your mum, or maybe a business meeting, although there are tables outside that would accommodate little people well, and also a grill in a lower area of the restaurant that I sense caters more to families. I came on a midweek lunch and it was pretty busy actually and quite a mix of well-heeled older people and younger tables (young being 35+ in this case) but apparently weekends are busy with families and Sunday lunches. I guess that would create a whole different vibe though I can’t verify that one way or the other without my crystal ball, which dammit, I’ve left at Bingo yet again.
(Yes, yes, I’m getting to the food! May I continue? *sniff*)
It was fabulous, since you asked, in the league of very good restaurants without quite reaching for a Michelin star. In fairness, I don’t think it’s gunning for one either. There’s quite a homely feel to the Beetle and Wedge despite its starchy tablecloths. Service is very friendly (though not in an annoying way), the house specialty is the comfort-dish of rosti potatoes (see my pic below), and with boat hire available from the side of the Beetle & Wedge it all feels very pleasant.
I started with pan roasted king scallop, crevette and seared tuna with chervil and lime butter (£9.25), which was superb, then bowled onwards with seabream with carrot and courgette ribbons, sundried tomato and caper dressing and a slice of rosti potato large enough to pin my door back in a gale.
There was a bit of a mix up with our order, which meant we didn’t quite make dessert before I tanked it back to pick up the kids, but I don’t doubt it would have been every bit as good as the mains. My mum kept prodding me to taste her food, saying how fantastic it was, and she’s a woman with, shall we say, opinions.
I did manage a quick loo shot, as I don’t like to disappoint my toilet fans.
If I keep going at this rate, I’ll be able to compile The Definitive Guide to Oxon & Bucks’ Best Lavatory Facilities in no time. Literary agents, don’t be shy, get in touch!
The Muddy Verdict:
Best for: River lovers – the position of the restaurant is sublime. Romantic couples, generational family gatherings, business lunches, or those with very well-behaved kids (there’s a small but sensible menu for littlies). Those who like a ‘proper’ restaurant rather than a gastropub experience.
Not for: Raucous groups. The Beetle & Wedge is sedate, elegant, relaxed. It’s not somewhere I’d go to order a cocktail and flirt with the waiter (yes, *sigh*, I’m still doing both of those activities waaaay too often). Michelin-star critics may sniff at the slightly patchy service, though it bothered me not.
£: On the border of mid-range and expensive. Not enough for a sharp intake of breath but more than your average gastropub. Entrees typically between £7.50 -£9ish, mains from £12-18. But an extra quid or two for a view like this is well worth paying.
The Beetle & Wedge, Ferry Lane, Moulsford-on-Thames, Oxon, Ox10 9JF. Tel: 01491 651381. beetleandwedge.co.uk