M4, Junction A308M; 4 mins
Vegetarian or vegan options
Parking available onsite
Heston Blumenthal’s foray into pubs has been a riotous success, combining atmospheric, chic country surroundings with Heston’s much-celebrated flair for food. The Crown has an old world feel to it – dark wood bar, brass ornaments, low timbered ceilings and the scent of open fires: rumour has it that Charles II would call in for a drink here while visiting his mistress – but has been flawlessly updated. In summer, you can spill out into the newly landscaped garden, sheltered from any breezes by high brick walls.
Food is excellent – pub food done well. Options might include pastrami and smoked cheese burger, steak with marrowbone sauce, crispy cauliflower cheese or beer-battered fish and chips (sometimes available to take away). Save space for the signature spit roasted pineapple sundae with salted caramel when the BBQ is fired up, or sticky toffee pudding in winter. It’s mid-way between Reading and London so a perfect pit stop if you’re meeting relatives in the middle, or if you’re running early for Heathrow.