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8 great places to eat al fresco in Berkshire

PUBLISHED: 11:54 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:54 17 July 2017

A welcoming spot outdoors at The Oxford Blue © Maureen McLean

A welcoming spot outdoors at The Oxford Blue © Maureen McLean

© Maureen McLean. All Rights Reserved

Whether it’s a celebratory occasion or a picnic trip to the riverside, there’s something delicious here

The Crown at Bray

With a new outdoors dining area, a pretty courtyard garden, Heston Blumenthal’s pub has introduced a mouth-watering barbecue menu to ensure your visit is a sizzler. This is where you’ll find the likes of char-grilled prawn cocktail or a feast of an open steak sandwich served with kimchi and soy mayo. As well as that old favourite, The Crown Burger, there’s a veggie beet burger and unavoidable little extras like corn on the cob. Leave room for caramelised pineapple and popcorn sundae, it’s quite extraordinary.

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thecrownatbray.com

The Barn, Coworth Park, Ascot

Stylish but relaxed, that’s how we’d describe lunch at The Barn. The terrace beckons with its lovely views across a stone bridge of the estate grounds, meadows and polo area. The Barn has a brasserie-style menu with sharing plates, seasonal menus, set lunch deals and a specials blackboard. Look out for sharing choices featuring British charcuterie and perhaps Berkshire blue cheese. The grill selection is excellent, with beef coming fresh from the Windsor Estate. If the weather doesn’t quite suit for outdoors dining, the light and airy converted rustic barn is a delight.

dorchestercollection.com

The Rowbarge, Woolhampton

West Berkshire’s Pub of the Year 2017 chosen by CAMRA is full of nooks and crannies but it has to be freezing outside for us to forgo lunch in the extensive garden beside the Kennet river. You’ll find good quality pub grub, from light bites to hearty meals, served lunchtimes and evenings. Try it out, and you may well want to go back for the annual summer beer festival on the weekend of 18 to 20 August (2017). There will be 35 real ales and ciders across the weekend and events including meet the brewers, gin tastings, children’s activities, live music and a barbecue.

brunningandprice.co.uk/rowbarge

The Oxford Blue, Old Windsor

We tipped this new establishment – which combines the gastropub style with a fine dining experience – for the top back when the weather was a lot cooler. It’s still winning plaudits for the innovative dishes and although the courses aren’t cheap you will come away feeling full up and that the visit needs to be repeated. Well now’s the time because you can enjoy some very lovely views from the verandah style terrace, we’d mention this when you book because we have a feeling it will be very popular throughout the summer.

oxfordbluepub.co.uk

The Tea Shop by the Canal, Newbury

What a place to watch the world go by… often very slowly. On a summer’s day this is undoubtedly one of the best places in Berkshire. It’s a family-run business supported by the Canal Trust. Cream teas, a refreshing drink on an afternoon walk. Perhaps a smoked salmon open sandwich for lunch, perfect.

teashopbythecanal.co.uk

The Olde Bell, Hurley

There’s a kamado oven and rotisserie in the main gardens and before or after your meal make sure to wander around this magnificent setting (it’s greatly encouraged), including the meadow gardens and orchard. Some parts of the inn date back to the mid 1150s, and you can feel the history both indoors and out. The Olde Bell has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes from the AA Restaurant Guide and ordering some summer treats will soon show why, with a lot of produce coming from their own garden.

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theoldebell.co.uk/dining

Take it with you… Carluccio’s

There’s a new summer menu here celebrating the very best of regional Italian ingredients from Antonio Carluccio’s homeland. On the move? Carluccio’s in-house deli and foodshop features a range of summer dishes – ideal for busy lunch breaks or snacks to go. Discover piled high ciabatta sandwiches, freshly made pasta dishes and vibrant salads as well as beautifully finished tarts and cakes. If the sun’s shining order a Classic or Vegetarian Carluccio’s picnic featuring an antipasti selection, delicious salads and sweet treats to be enjoyed al fresco – there’s even a Children’s Picnic to keep the little ones happy. Carluccio’s are at Windsor Royal Station and Forbury Square, Reading.

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carluccios.com

Take it with you… Picnic, Reading

Perfectly named to complete our list, this café at the Butter Market offers ethical coffee and locally produced food to enjoy there, plus picnic boxes and hampers which change each week. You might find the likes of tri-color of heritage tomatoes, kalamata olives tumbled together with mozzarella and home made basil pesto, or Mexican Beef salad with roast beef sliced and served with spicy salsa, fresh avocado and a sprinkle of cheddar for good measure, all for around the £5 to £6 mark.

picnicfoods.co.uk

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