Roux at Skindles | Maidenhead (UK)

Doesn’t meet the standards and expectations of a high-end French brasserie yet.
But it will get there.

Roux at Skindles is Michel and Alain Roux’s new venture. A brasserie-style restaurant (opened November 6th, 2018) at Taplow Riverside, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire (UK), situated within a new waterside residential complex on the former site of Skindles hotel. The new restaurant occupies three storeys, with the main dining area on the ground floor, a cocktail bar on the first level and a private dining suite on the second floor. There is also be an open terrace along the riverside.

The team of staff are led by General Manager, French-born Maxime Walkowiak who worked as Head Sommelier at The Waterside Inn for more than 8 years.  Head Chef Raj Holuss is from Mauritius with a background in French cooking who has been Alain’s no. 2 chef at The Waterside Inn for over ten years.

We went for lunch about three weeks after the opening. The staff is most welcoming and led us to our table. While we were browsing the menu, we got a pre-starter nibble to start us off.

Pre-starter nibble

Large chunks of avocado with bits of tomato accompanied by some crackers. It didn’t look appealing and it was just avocado and bits of tomato, nothing more. I didn’t understand this amuse. Why not do a mousse of the avocado, season it well and add bits of tomato. Would have made all the difference.

The menu shows a nice variety of dishes and is both for lunch and dinner. Nine starters are priced from £8.50 to £14; eleven mains from £15 to £27; (sides £3.50); and seven desserts and a cheese plate £5 to £8.50. There are also some daily specials to choose from.

Watercress soup with a pouched egg and croutons (£8.50)

The watercress soup was a daily special, so normally not on the menu. The soup had good colour and a pleasing depth of flavour. It lacked a bit of salt though. Served with croutons and a beautiful poached egg, which added substance and richness. The dish was suitably hearty and warming.

Grandpa Benoit Roux’s country pâté & sourdough bread (£12.50)

One of the old classic and as the name suggests, probably made according to an old recipe from grandpa Roux. Well made paté with the consistency you want in a country paté. Would have liked a bit of chutney to go with it though.

Merrifield duck pie & sweetheart cabbage, Rouennaise sauce (£18.00)

For mains we choose the Merrifield duck pie, with a golden dome of crisp puff pastry and a well-seasoned duck farce filling. Suitably partnered with sauce Rouennaise, a red wine Bordelaise sauce enhanced with duck livers, this rich combination was balanced by the freshness of sautéed sweetheart cabbage. It looks really appealing and shows craftsmanship of the chef.
However the filling was to dense for me. It taste just like a paté and has the same mouthfeel as paté. After I just enjoyed grandpa Roux’s paté as a starter, this was just too much and disappointing as I expected to get a nice filling of duck chunks with some carrot or mushrooms maybe.

Moules marinières & French fries (£15.00)

You can’t go to a French brasserie and not try the mussels! So we did and they were just what you would expect. Just a classic preparation of moules marinières, well executed.
But these are French fries? Most pubs call them triple cooked chips and they were not triple cooked by the way (also like in must pubs!).

Tonka bean panna cotta & seasonal fruit compote (£6.75)

Dessert was probably the nicest dish of the afternoon. Creamy panna cotta, with just a bit of wobble. Tonka bean flavour coming through nicely and the fruit company companied it well with the right level of tanginess and sweetness.

So, in summary, mixed feelings about this lunch. To me the establishment lacks a bit of identity and atmosphere at the moment, even though the staff really try. The lack of decor and the big drink fridges in plain sight don’t help. It just doesn’t feel like a brasserie yet.
Some issues with the food, but nothing that can be fixed easily. If you want to position yourself as a high-end brasserie (and the prices to go with it), then the food and everything you serve must be in line with that.

We certainly will be back to try in again. Probably on a nice day in the spring/summer when we can sit outside and enjoy the riverside view!