The restaurant today is under the direction of Executive Chef Alan Murchison who will likely be familiar to Great British Menu fans having reached the finals this year where he demonstrated a meticulous attention to detail leading me to expect a precise and focussed menu today. The show also highlighted his commitment toward fitness (you’re on your own there Alan) but it all adds up to a chef with a passion to deliver the very best.
We’ve been wanting to go for some time, and today heading west along the M4, it seemed an ideal stop off for lunch (though a lunch for one today however). Looking to Urbanspoon, there are no blog posts for L’ortolan currently posted; this is not then a blogger destination.
Turning off the M4, L’ortolan is immediately signposted for which I’m grateful despite having SatNav. There’s few things more frustrating than driving around unable to find your destination, knowing you’re close but still arriving late.
I didn’t really know what to expect of the place, it’s not in London so it’s probably not in an office block but it’s sort of Reading so it could be towny. As turns out, it’s quite a beautiful location, made more so by a rare dose of late summer sun and a blue sky. The venue is apparently an old vicarage (l’ortolan eating vicars giving it its name perhaps?) but it has been a restaurant for some some years now. It’s peaceful and calming, and only if you listen carefully can you here the M4 traffic. It makes for a good first impression.
My pre lunch orange juice is taken in the greenhouse style conservatory where some nibbles are also served and where you can peruse the menu. There’s plenty of choices with the lunch menu, a la carte and two tasting menus. I also like the fact that there’s a summer tasting menu of 5 courses for £39, something to suit everybody’s pocket (Novikov take note).
The dining room is what you’d expect for Michelin starred French restaurant but the room mood is relatively relaxed with the sound of table chatter suppressing the piped smooth jazz that otherwise fills the momentary synchronised conversational pause.
Undoubtedly a talented kitchen, prices to suit most pockets and staff that try hard, L'ortolan's good reputation and Michelin star is well deserved and as the only starred restaurant in Reading, is an understandably popular choice with locals when they want to be spoiled just that little but more than normal.