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Restaurant Review: Leaf at the Castle Hotel Windsor, Windsor in Berkshire

LLM’s Caroline Cooper steps into Leaf at the beautiful Castle Hotel Windsor – is it worth the visit?

By Caroline Cooper  |  October 27, 2021
Leaf at Castle Hotel Windsor

When it comes to eating in good company, there’s not much that can top Windsor Castle, the oldest and official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, which is where Leaf, a new Berkshire restaurant has taken up residence in the shadows of one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks. 

Leaf, at the Castle Hotel Windsor, offers creative cuisine that showcases the finest, locally sourced produce. The restaurant’s menus have been crafted to make every dining occasion a memorable feast. Serving everything from breakfast to dinner daily. However, unlike other restaurants who are in such a tourist hotspot, Leaf, with it’s décor, food and fantastic service, is an exception to the rule.

Outside the Leaf
The restaurant’s décor is laid back luxury with a relaxed and calming atmosphere

My guest and I attended on an autumnal Thursday evening and were excited to get a taste for this new chic looking restaurant that everyone has been talking about. Being part of a hotel means that whatever the time of day there’s a bustling feel with people coming and going, and this transcends into the restaurant making it feel like a hub of activity.

The restaurant’s décor is laid-back luxury with a relaxed and calm atmosphere. The strong botanical theme throughout draws inspiration from nature and features beautiful flowers and plants – lending itself perfectly to The Crown Estates Windsor Great Park and ‘The Long Walk’ just metres away from where we were dining. 

Main choice at the Leaf
Offering creative cuisine that showcases the finest locally sourced produce, Leaf’s menus have been crafted to make every dining occasion a memorable feast

The lighting was romantic and dimly lit, which I was told evolves throughout the day, making you never want to leave – I was ready to get cosy for the night. For a new restaurant, it was very busy, yet this didn’t falter the service, which I have to say was exceptional. One thing I love about dining is when the staff are confident to talk about the property, as though nothing is off limits, it proves to me how comfortable they are in their role, and what a tight, yet good ship management are running.

The menu is as inviting as the décor – designed to ‘feed the soul’ with a slice of indulgence whilst also being fresh and colourful.  We started off with some marinated Provencal olives whilst we perused the inviting menu. We chose to share the seared scallops with caviar, curried cauliflower puree and crispy pancetta. It was utterly divine with all the flavour and texture leaving us desperate for more. We also shared the tempura calamari with lemon and garlic mayonnaise – which was just as delicious and left us excited for our mains.

The terrace at the Leaf
The heated terrace offers a beautifully romantic atmosphere

There’s a good but not overbearing choice on the menu – it was concise which I love. It has a mix of everyday favourites which, when done well, usually beats elaborate cuisine in my book. I opted for the perfectly cooked grilled tandoori style lamb cutlets, teamed with crushed curried Jersey Royals, minted green pea puree, baby radish, pomegranate seeds, mint yogurt and mango chutney – the lamb was cooked to perfection. 

Seeing as my guest was my sister, we couldn’t help but share – and it’s true to say her fillet steak was just as scrumptious. Paired with sautéed garlic and thyme field mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, watercress, stealth skin on fries and peppercorn sauce, all washed down with a beautiful glass of red, as guided by the sommelier.

Now, I’m not usually one for dessert but the food had been so good, it was hard to decline. We shared The Mess at the Leaf (Eton Mess) and the molten chocolate surprise – which our waitress carefully revealed by pouring dark chocolate sauce over the domed chocolate to reveal charred orange segments and mixed berries – it was utterly delicious.

Dessert
The molten chocolate surprise was one of the menu’s real highlights

Leaf, at The Castle Hotel Windsor, really is a new gem in this historic town. With a heated terrace which was quite literally blooming at the time of our visit, I can’t wait to return either for a cosy winter’s drink or for a glass of rose come spring, whatever time of year, whatever the occasion – Leaf will leave you impressed.

Factbox

Address: Leaf, Castle Hotel Windsor, 118 High Street, Windsor,  SL7 1LJ
Telephone: 01753 851 577
Website: castlehotelwindsor.com/food-and-drink/