I have never even been near a Michelin star restaurant in my life so, naturally, I jumped at the chance to review Reading’s only accredited establishment.

Everything about L’Ortolan is etched with a sense of luxury, but the homely nature of the Shinfield restaurant allows you to enjoy it all in a subtle and soothing way.

Before my friend and I even entered the restaurant - an understated, red-brick former vicarage - the accommodating staff already showed their willingness to help; upon seeing us taking photos of the beautiful building, someone stepped outside and offered to take a picture of us.

This friendliness continued throughout our experience, staff were helpful and knowledgeable, explaining each canapé, drink and course with an intriguing story of its origins.

We both ordered different Gin and Tonics from the bar and from the first sip I knew this dining experience would be something special. I have never tasted such a nice gin and the even the drinks were served with meticulous attention to appearance.

We were given some caviar canapés while waiting in the conservatory bar area, on a comfy sofa overlooking the pretty grounds. I was unsure about whether I would enjoy the caviar, having never tasted or been tempted to taste it before, but was pleasantly surprised by its subtleness and nice flavour.

It was served on a thin, crisp-type base with sauces and a mix of flavours, and we were also given a wild mushroom bake, which was delicious.

We picked our starters and mains – I opted for the confit salmon, cucumber and citrus and the pan fried bass, wild garlic gnocchi and asparagus dish for my main course, while my friend chose the steak tartare and the poached halibut, orange and nasturtium dish.

We were soon shown to our elegant table and brought some flavoursome breads followed by possibly the most unique and tasty amuse bouche. It was served in the shell of an egg and presented in a basket, and inside was a Japanese-style soup topped with more caviar.

The explosions of flavour were incredible, it had a fruity taste and freshness to it I have never experienced before, yet it wasn’t overwhelming and was the perfect start to what was a fantastic meal.

I especially loved the story behind certain foods and drink, it really added to the element of sophistication and adventure that came from the experience. We chose a white wine and as the waiter poured our glasses, he explained that it had come from the mountain region of Argentina, and that the altitude creates the unique flavour.

I’m no wine expert but hearing the origins of the specific drink as it was being served felt special, and the wine went down a treat. Our glasses had scarcely emptied each time they were swiftly refilled.

The dining room was subtly decorated and, coupled with the perfectly dimmed lighting, provided a calm ambience.

My salmon did not disappoint, and the dishes were all beautifully served. Incredibly detailed work had been put into the appearance of each and every dish, to the point that I felt I would be spoiling a masterpiece by tucking into it – not that that stopped me.

The main event was the highlight for me. My main course was so delicious I really didn’t want it to end. Right to the last mouthful I was experiencing different flavours I had never come across before, which all complimented each other well and tasted incredible.

The fish itself was tender, while the fusions of sauces, gnocchi and asparagus were a real treat for the tastebuds. I couldn’t fault any part of the dish, and my friend said the same about her main.

Again, the pudding was something special. I went for a banana and honeycomb dish. It looked fit for royalty on the plate; with a chocolate coated banana pudding with a gold leaf on the top, along with vanilla ice cream, chocolate cream and honeycomb pieces. A sweet sauce was spiralled around the food so evenly it looked like it must have been measured with a ruler.

My friend’s dessert also looked exquisite – a coconut cheesecake with passionfruit and mango.

The quality of all the food and drink was divine; the whole experience was less like going to a restaurant and more akin to a spa treatment for the senses. We both left totally relaxed, satisfied and as though we had been treated like royalty for the three hours we spent there, which flew by far too quickly.

The French-inspired menu isn’t huge, and although there were a lot of fish dishes there were enough options to satisfy those who don’t eat fish, with a duck dish as well as goose and guinea fowl. There are also vegetarian menus available.

Ultimately, the experience was something incredibly special, and I would recommend L'Ortolan to anyone looking for something magnificent, perhaps to celebrate a special occasion. It seemed more than just a dining experience and more an escape - like a VIP treatment; we didn’t want to leave.

I would rate L'Ortolan highly, and if I ever had the chance to go back I would grab it.