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“Very Poor Value for Money”
Review of L'Ortolan

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Sun, 19/09
Ranked #31 of 636 Restaurants in Reading
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$38 - US$144
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Transit: Train: Reading Station then taxi. Bus: Lines 9 & 144 stop within a few minutes walk of the restaurant.
Description: A unique culinary experience in the pleasant village of Shinfield, just outside Reading, Michelin starred L'Ortolan is wonderfully appointed, a complement to the impressive historic house which it calls home. Surrounded by beautiful grounds and serving food of the very highest quality,creative and sophisticated, is prepared by Head Chef James Greatorex and his team using the best possible ingredients. A range of unique dining options are available including private dining and a Chef's Table, making L'Ortolan perfect for any occasion.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We upgraded to £110 (£30 extra each) 10 course. Even then we came out hungry (not unusual in these sorts or pretentious restaurants). What really upset (apart from tasteless fish dish) was the cheek of asking extra for cheese board when we paid so much already - didn't help that they kept bringing the trolley to others around us and the smell wafted over.. Evening started with putting us in the garden room with no atmosphere on table facing away from the garden to the wall in room. The much bigger round table by the wall with views over garden was empty so we asked if we could move - waitress went off and never came back. I do not give up - we finally persuaded a waiter to move us. I also noticed that the request "Is that course alright?" was not made for the fish dish when I would have enjoyed giving our verdict! Needless to say our complaints never got anywhere - at least a similar experience in Corfe resulted in a bill reduction. Also noticed wine flite was £100 for standard wines and £150 for fine wines. I bet many couples walked out with bill for over £600. Crazy really. Oh well it was worth checking it out but we will never go there again. Made a nice mini break as hotel we stayed at was excellent thank goodness...

Date of visit: August 2021
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank DJSPEAK
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Went here for an anniversary dinner. We had the menu prestige at 110 pounds per person. Firstly we were asked if we wanted the extra starter course with caviar at 25 pounds each. We declined. The menu was very nice until the fish course. The fish was overcooked and the bed of ratatouille it sat on was rather tasteless. Then when it came to the cheese course we were told that to choose from the cheese trolley was an extra supplement. Instead we were served a small cube of goats cheese in a dish. We were told that the cheese selection was extra as it would be too filling. Unfortunately this made us feel that this restaurant is a money making exercise and not really there to give customer satisfaction. What would it have really cost them to give us a couple of pieces of cheese from the trolley? The deserts were a bit sickly and personally I found the chocolate cherry dessert very rich. I'd have preferred a piece of cheese. Drinks wise we steered clear of the wine flights which are extortionate. If you had the tasting menu, fine wine flight and caviar and cheese extras you could easily come out with a bill of 600 pounds per couple plus service charge and I'm afraid I find that hard to justify.

Date of visit: August 2021
2  Thank eleanore424
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 11 August 2021 via mobile

Amazing dinner for myself and my fiancé it was for her 24th birthday and we loved the 10 course tasting menu.
The staff looked after us well and we also loved the little touch on the pudding
Thank you once again L’Ortolan !

Date of visit: August 2021
Thank saraofreading
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 9 August 2021

We have been going to L'Ortolan for about 15 years and have always had wonderful meals and service and wine. We went for a special birthday meal. It was our first time dining there with the new chef. The Gourmand menu looked adventurous and exciting, but sadly every single dish was either under-seasoned, dry or just plain OK. A dish purporting to be lobster was a mush and a real waste of lobster. The Foie Gras was almost liquid and needed a cracker or bread to taste it (thankfully we each saved some of the sourdough - which my guest hates - we weren't asked if sourdough was OK . The next course was turbot and the piece of turbot was so small it was swamped by the tasty ratatouille - I think we each had two bites of the turbot.
The wine list has been pared down, but the wine we had was excellent. We were not offered any advice or help by either of the sommeliers and the a la Carte menu was not offered although it was on the website.
The service needs polishing. We could NOT understand the waiter's presentation (I guess the masks didn't help) and when we asked specific questions he couldn't answer and didn't ask anyone who might help. One niggle is that the the same course was served to tables at the same time regardless of when someone had ordered or were seated - not spaced out as in other restaurants. Perhaps the problem is lack of experience - the oldest staff member looked about 40. The meal overall excluding a taxi was almost £500 and to be honest we could have gone to Orwells in Shiplake or the Crown at Burchett's Green for less money and better food and a better overall experience.

Sadly we are not inclined to go again. I also think that unless the dishes are better polished and the service improves (no one seemed to be in charge of the waiting staff) they may lose the coveted Michelin Star.

Date of visit: August 2021
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
5  Thank 496stephb
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 6 August 2021

Sadly, I did not have a pleasurable evening at L’Ortolan, all in all. I’m not much of a complainer so I made the best of it and I was friendly throughout, but the experience was an alienating one. The cumulative effect of various issues has left me unwilling to return. In short, I feel that they showed a lack of consideration for me as a customer, unnecessarily embarrassed me and were let down by elements of their vegan offering.

I had the vegan version of the Gourmand tasting menu. The food was generally enjoyable, with a few of the courses being very nice, including dessert. I found others underwhelming, perhaps suffering by comparison to similar but more well-rounded dishes I have enjoyed elsewhere. That’s not to say the food was poor, just that it did not meet my expectations given the rating and price.

The service overall was unpolished. Without listing every minor niggle, one example is the waiting staff constantly squeezing by or leaning over the table to reach the middle diner by the the wall. The layout obviously doesn’t work, or there was no plan to overcome the challenge it poses.

At one point during the meal, I absentmindedly slipped my shoes off under the table. This was a no-no and I was approached by a waitress and asked to put my shoes back on. I did what she asked, but it left a sour taste – leaving me feeling embarrassed, overly scrutinised and unwelcome. Honestly, I could let that go had the atmosphere and the service been far more refined, or had I not otherwise dressed in accordance with their smart casual dress code, but with service noticeably subpar it felt unwarranted.

The offering for dietary requirements was also lacking in some basic areas and the approach of staff to my meal often made me uncomfortable and awkward. I just smiled and got on with it, but if I could rewind time I wouldn’t have gone to L’Ortolan.

For example:

On multiple occasions, waiting staff referred to everyone else’s food as the “normal” dish, which felt thoughtless and unnecessary. At the end of the meal when we were offered tea and coffee, I asked what milk was available, and was told they only had “normal” milk. I thought that was surprising and unsatisfactory, which wasn’t helped by the inconsiderate use of language. On a similar theme, the first vegan dish was presented on a bed of shells. While I imagine these originated on a beach somewhere, I didn’t feel it was appropriate and it demonstrated a general lack of consideration.

While the restaurant caters for vegans, there was no vegan menu as such. Instead, there was a set vegetarian menu and a promise that it could be easily adapted. As a result, some of the courses appeared to be the vegetarian dish with a component – such as an egg – simply removed from the recipe. The missing element was announced by staff, which didn’t help. Ordinarily this would be fine, but given the venue I did expect more. Even just writing up the vegan option onto a menu would be an improvement.

One sharing dish (for others in our party) of upturned pigeon legs with feet still attached was placed down right in front of me, which was also a bit insensitive. I certainly don’t expect someone else’s meal to be altered, but more thought could have been given to the presentation and placement. The waitress seemed embarrassed and apologised as while I didn’t complain, I don’t have a good poker face. Returning to suggest that they could take it away and remove the feet was not a good way to handle it thought and made it all the more awkward. It could easily have been avoided from the start with a little more care.

Date of visit: August 2021
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
3  Thank Cornflowers100
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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