Looking for a riverside setting for dinner? They don't get prettier than Rossini's in South Oxon.
There’s only so many deliciously tempting local restaurants I can review before I’ll have to borrow Mr Creosote’s trousers so, in the interests of my ever-expanding waistline, this time I despatched Muddy’s Marketing Director Sascha Way as my scoffing proxy. Her mission? To eat her way through the menu at this classic Italian restaurant housed in an ancient riverside pub. Over to you, Sascha…
This one’s all about location, location, location. We were greeted by a spectacular sunset as we emerged from a twisty country lane at this secluded riverside spot, halfway between Goring and South Stoke. However our great British ‘summer’ being what it was, it was too darn parky to sit outside on the large terrace so we swiftly scurried inside. Basically, this is a traditional, upscale (so no pizza) Italian restaurant – think classic white table-cloths, chintzy crockery, terracotta tiling decor, charming service, piped music and a sedate vibe. I rocked up with my friend Sam for a girly catch-up, but most of the clientele were couples, soaking up that romantic sunset.
It’s not the kind of food that’ll dazzle your Instagram followers, rather it’s simple, no-nonsense, perfectly executed Italian classics. And that was absolutely fine by us. I started with dry cured beef with rocket and cherry tomatoes, while Sam plumped for the burrata, that came with its own bottle of balsamic for precision drizzling.
Next up, I inhaled an extremely tasty bowl of spaghetti alle vongole, with tender clams and so much garlic you can probably still smell me from there. Sam was pleased to note that her impeccably cooked sea bream was unencumbered by any complicated or heavy sauces – when you’ve got fish this fresh there’s no need to gild the lily. Portion sizes were very generous, but we heroically still managed to nail a tiramisu to finish you’ll be relieved to hear. All of the above was washed down with a tasty glass of Merlot (OK, three) from the all-Italian wine list.
I have friends with older children who love a family lunch here on the terrace of a weekend. However if you’ve got little ones who hare around the place, you might find it stressful trying to keep them away from the water’s edge. There’s no official children’s menu but the chefs will happily do you a mini-dish of whatever your small person requires.
OUT & ABOUT
The pretty village of Goring (most famous resident: the now ex-George Michael) is walkable from the restaurant – the path takes you away from the riverside, so it’s probably best to ask staff for directions. Goring has a growing reputation as a foodie hotspot – try the chi-chi Goring Grocer for take-home fresh and deli goodies – and has access to the Thames Path for all your riverside strolling needs. And salty seadogs, take note – the Leatherne Bottel has an 8-seater electric boat for hire (£55 per hour), so you can cruise the river before or after bolting down your pasta. Bellissimo!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: The sedate vibe makes it ideal for a romantic dinner or a low-key girly catch up. In warmer months, the terrace is good for family lunches, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the nippers as you’re right on the water’s edge.
NOT FOR: Hipsters hunting for the latest hotspot or rowdy types looking for a wild night out. Yeah, go get your coat.
THE DAMAGE: At the higher end for a pub-restaurant, I’d say. With starters around £9 – £11, mains £13.50 (the spaghetti) – £19.50 (the sea bream) and desserts around £7, that means around £60 for dinner for two, before you’ve ordered wine.
Rossini at the Leatherne Bottel, Bridle Way, Goring-on-Thames, Oxon, RG8 0HS; 01491 872667