Chicken @ The Three Frogs, Wokingham 22/05/2016

Dear FirstName.

Don’t worry, no need to close/delete – this isn’t a Labour Party begging e-mail – though if you do want to give me £20 then you are more than welcome.  I’ll use it more wisely – gravy as opposed to gravy train.

I’ve been suffering from a notable case of GMT recently. Grumpy, Miserable & Tired. I’ve relapsed after a weekend of relative joy so I’m in no mood to put a smile on your face. There won’t be any tranny references, no drug references, no prostitutes, no bad jokes, no random digressions, no pointlessness, no politics and definitely no swearing. Just a plain old personality-free review of a roast dinner.

I do need your help though. £20 should do.

Seriously though, I want to know from you which places you think I need to review before I get shot by the mafia or end up like the orange juice man of Ibiza.

Call it a bucket list. I know I’ve been threatening to stop these reviews for about a year but an end point will come and I want to go out in a blaze of glory.

Comment, e-mail me, message me – whatever. If there is somewhere you really, really want to see me review, good or bad, for whatever reason, I want it on my list.

Yesterday’s roast was selected by my only good friend, the random number generator. It was pleasingly within easy walking distance of my house, despite being in another town.

The Three Frogs was the name. Three roast dinners were on offer for £9.49 each – beer, pork and chicken. I went for the allegedly slow-cooked half a chicken. I’d be cynical even if I weren’t grumpy today.

The menu suggested to me that it should be a step up from a Harvester, but not much else. The décor of the pub suggested similar – garish purple-patterned carpet that has been laid in more pubs than your average whore, with ugly haggard tables yet half-decent chairs. More suited for the football fan than the restaurant critic, of which I am only vaguely either.

Shit, I think I accidentally attempted humour in there. Doh.

I had called in advance and reserved a roast dinner. They serve them until close but warned me that they do sell out. And by time I arrived at 4pm, mine was the only one left. Some people might suggest this was a good sign.

I waited around 15 minutes as the queue for the microwave must have been quite long.

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Let’s start with the red cabbage. Never my favourite vegetable, a pile of it was splodged onto the plate. I tried to eat some of it, however there was so much water involved that every time I took a bite, a small river of purple water would run down and infect my gravy, of which there wasn’t exactly a reservoir of.

I quickly gave up and moved onto the broccoli. Unfortunately this had been in some kind of reservoir for it was also soggier than an English bank holiday weekend. It had been boiled/steamed so long that it had just about lost its green colour. Edible.

Also on the soggy side were the carrots. Which was a shame as they were nice carrots – those small chantannoy ones, replete with outer skin, as carrots should be. But could have been mashed with a fork. A plastic fork.

The Yorkshire pudding was average at best. It appeared a home-grown effort, yet was somewhat rubbery and chewy. I’ve had worse.

At least the chicken had some cracked pepper on it, and it was a larger half-chicken than you would get at Nando’s – the most over-rated restaurant chain in the country, living on past glories of when they didn’t use disfigured malnourished mini-chickens, and nobody had yet discovered peri-peri.

I once wrote to Nando’s and offered to write a blog about their restaurant in exchange for two free whole chickens – the deal being that I would have to eat both whole chickens in one sitting, otherwise I would have to pay.

They wrote back to me to thank me for my suggestion, but that the only discounts they have available were for NHS, fire service and police. Why on earth well-paid public sector workers get a discount and average-paid roast dinner reviewers don’t, is another matter. Though I guess they work harder than me. Well, NHS and police, anyway. Hopefully my firefighting cousins will read this and withdraw my invite to the wedding I’m subjected to in a couple of weeks.

I guess that’s why Nando’s was smashed up when Portugal beat England in the football a few years back.

Actually the last time I went to a wedding of one of my cousins on that side of the family, I was served a roast dinner.  It was a pretty good one too. Why on earth don’t we allow firefighters to retire at 40, and double their pay?

Then again, I only got one Yorkshire pudding and those on the top table got two. Vote Tory.

So the chicken. It was tasteless yet edible. The breast portion was a touch dry, the skin was limp and soggy, the thigh nice – the remainder in trace amounts. The cracked black pepper added nothing.

The gravy was a pretty standard Bisto kind of affair – very little on the plate but more was forthcoming on request, albeit not a huge amount more.

Not exactly a great roast dinner but there is something that I have not yet mentioned. Roast potatoes. I can see that you are expecting a variety of rarely-used vocabulary.

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Yes, the roast potatoes were excellent. Almost perfection. Had they been freshly served then they would have been some of the best ever. And despite the obvious cooling and reheating, they were the best this year by some way. Proper crispy edges, fluffy on the inside – there were even 5 of them.

Albeit the one nearest the red cabbage ended up purple.

Surprised?

If only the rest of the roast dinner was that good. The excellent roasties rescued a fairly poor to average dinner – the rating therefore is 5.5 out of 10 – about half of which is for the spuds.

The highlight was the roasties – the lowlight everything else.

On the way out, I was advised that I was the envy of the pub, having had the last roast dinner. Quite.

Next Sunday (hangover dependent) I’m going to somewhere that apparently holds Morris dancing events. Unless I have a willing driver, in which case I’ll get them to head out into the sticks instead.

I hope you didn’t smile. I’m still miserable and grumpy, although I have nearly cracked a smile about the lesbian action at the night I DJ at on Friday.

Beef Rib-Eye @ The Walter Arms, Sindlesham 08/05/2016

There are few things I despise more than anaemic roast potatoes and jus. Working in a boiling hot office is one. I’d gladly not only sacrifice sunshine for the next 4 months, but also decent roast potatoes and proper gravy, just to have comfortable working conditions.

With a bit of luck, they’ll get rid of me soon. Come on, make me redundant! Hurry up!

Normally I start writing my review on a Sunday evening and finish it at lunch on Monday, and just about get it published before my lunch finishes.

Today it is currently 24.2’C in the office. It was 23.2’C less than an hour ago. It gets much hotter in here from lunchtime. I’m angry. I’m fucked off. I’m in a serious state of loathing already. The world can fuck off. You can all fuck off (after sharing the page, please). So I’m writing this review when I should really be closing my eyes, not thinking and doing the same that I do every single day in my oh so boring job.

Yesterday’s roast was shit. 0 out of 10.

Next weekend I’m not having any more roast dinners because I will be in custody for burning down the office. 24.3’C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even the hot Spanish girl in my office has just said it is hot. 24.4’C. Though I think that was meant as a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, ok you can have a proper review. I like some of you. I like Edible Reading anyway as he/she/he-she always shares the love. 24.5’C.

My life-partner, the random number generator, picked The Walter Arms near Winnersh as my destination this week. Co-incidentally the place recommended to me last weekend by one of my freely-swearing amigos. 24.6’C. I’m struggling not to swear every time I look at my digital thermometer.

We arrived at midday…yes…we. I had someone join me. No it wasn’t my imaginary girlfriend. No I didn’t take my life-size cardboard cut-out of Margaret Thatcher. 24.7’C. Anyway we arrived at the venue – the front looks like a church and we nearly walked past. They had two outdoor areas – one was a field, the other a very pleasant courtyard, allegedly with waiter service, although I only saw waitresses and they definitely were not transsexuals. 24.8’C.

We found a table half in the sunshine for your favourite fat 50-year old meow-meow-addicted virgin with an inverted nob, and half in the shade for my favourite UKIP-voting homosexual socialist with balls too big to wear shorts, complaining about the heat whilst wearing a jumper that allegedly was not a jumper. 24.9’C. 25.0’C.

The menu reads like one of those trendy places – split into starters, mains, mouth amusers and smorgasbords. What the insert swear words. Seriously. There was also a section for roasts, with beef, pork, chicken and lamb the options, and prices ranging between £12.95 and £14.95. 25.1’C.

You could also order Sunday Sundries, sigh, such as cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding or roast potatoes. Cauliflower cheese being a favourite, I ordered a side dish. 25.2’C.

We sat in the temporarily-wonderful warm sunshine that I now despise, drinking a pint of cider and 15 minutes later a well-presented roast dinner arrived, with a side bowl of mixed vegetables and the cauliflower cheese.

Did I mention that it was very nicely presented? Hardcore. You know the score.

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The bowl of mixed vegetables was very ordinary. Generally quite crunchy and not on the enjoyable side of crunchy. Not difficult to eat but usually the less you cook vegetables, the more flavour they keep. Nein. Nicht. Nada. Not this time. Mange tout, very thinly sliced carrots, straggly cheap green beans and some random leaves – none were distinguishable from each other. Very bland. 25.3’C.

Inside the yorkie, were a few small cubes of roasted carrots, and a larger handful of roasted swede. The swede was the tastiest part of the roast dinner – which was a shame because I don’t especially like swede.

A little disappointed, I progressed onto the anaemic-looking roast potatoes which were anaemic. Slightly dry yet rubbery on the outside, somewhat fluffy on the inside. They were not enjoyable but they were edible. 25.4’C.

Redemption should have been possible with the cauliflower cheese. However there was absolutely no hint of cheese, and it was very creamy – the cream seemed like it was out of a packet. Worse still – it infected the gravy so the cheap cream taste accompanied everything I ate. 25.5’C.

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The yorkie was acceptable but it looked suspiciously like it was out of a packet, as the edges were just a little too round, stable and pre-formed. 25.6’C.

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The beef was rib-eye – one of my favourite cuts and not often it is supplied in a roast dinner. The best part of the roast dinner by some way though far from amazing. It was succulent and juicy, with a good amount of tasty rib-eye fat but it was just missing something. A little cracked pepper, a little mustard powder – something to distinguish it. A good piece of beef but just a tad ordinary. 25.7’C.

It was alleged to be a gravy – a red-wine gravy at that, but red wine gravy on a roast dinner rarely works for me, and on the plate it was rather thin, albeit mixed with the cheap cream from the cauliflower cheese. It didn’t work for me – I’m probably too northern for it.

I like the pub, the courtyard is perfect for summer afternoon drinking. But I didn’t like the roast dinner. It wasn’t overly bad but it was overtly bland. 25.8’C.

My current state of loathing does mean that I may be being a tad more harsh than I should, but I’m going to give it a 5.8 out of 10. The highlight was the beef – the lowlight were the anaemic roast potatoes. On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it gets a Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Looks are not everything in life.

Last week I nearly right-swiped a transsexual on Tinder. Which led to a conversation at work about whether you would date someone who had a sex change. I’m open minded to most things but it isn’t for me. They probably find it harder to get a date than I do. Actually, maybe not. It’s still 25.8’C.

Next Saturday night I’m going to a nightclub. I don’t intend on getting home until 10am on Sunday so I expect that there is more chance of being kidnapped by a group of hot Spanish lesbians smothered in gravy than there is of me being able to eat a roast dinner.


Are you going to tell me your number one fantasy?

WHOA the office temperature has gone down to 25.7’C. Where did I put my scarf and gloves?

Do you think gardening leave would be too much to ask for?

25.9’C.

Lamb @ The Horns, Crazies Hill 01/05/2016

I was supposed to go out on Saturday and enjoy the British countryside, but instead I decided to focus on my web development portfolio and finish off some websites. It was a hugely frustrating day and by the end of it I ended up feeling sad and lonely.

I should have just stuck on Pornhub but instead I watched a romantic movie. It didn’t help. During which I consumed a bottle of rose wine and large bar of chocolate. It’s like I’ve had a mental sex change.

Mental as in the brain – not as in going loco. Sex changers, drug queens and everyone in between are normal and equally loved by me – it’s the thickness of your gravy that counts. May I take this opportunity to offer a heart-warming welcome to all of my trans readers, along with those who used to like transformers and trance music. If you still like transformers or trance music, you may want to check with your parent or guardian as to whether you should be reading this.

So I woke up on Sunday morning to the sound of not one housemate, but two housemates having sex with their respective partners. Yes I am a fat 50 year-old virgin who cannot even see his nob. You have asked your parents, haven’t you?

I considered blasting out Mel & Kim but just stuck on some banging techno and fantasised about northern women gravy wrestling.

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This week the random number generator picked The Horns in Crazies Hill. It was definitely on the boundary of acceptability in terms of how long it took to get there. By myself. A 30 minute walk to Bracknell train station, followed by 3 trains and then a 45 minute walk from Wargrave. I was fearing it being on the top of a hill after my long journey – but no, no hill, no crazies either.

Dear Landlord/landlady. If you are reading then please update your Sunday roast menu on your website. I was expecting to pay £10.95 for a lamb roast dinner as advertised by the website, but on the day it was £13.95. The price doesn’t really bother me but sort your website out! I can make or update websites for a very efficient cost.

I think the options were beef, pork, lamb and chicken, but don’t quote me. I’d had my heart set on lamb and was focused on it. I ordered at the bar on arrival, and barely had chance to try to remember from my heavy partying days who I had bumped into at the bar, got my seat and my meal was there.

Microwave central.

But on the bright side there was a very healthy portion supplied. However I was still feeling the effects of a tab of acid that I took when I woke up.

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Absolutely no shortage of vegetables, with carrots, mange tout, cabbage and traces of leek in the bowl.

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Starting with the traces of leek, it was difficult to discern any objectivity from the occasional white rings as they were quite on the sparse side. But always a bonus point for leakage.

Speaking of bonus points, mange tout are upper class vegetables suitable for an upper class boy like myself. These were on the crunchy side as was the cabbage – but the enjoyable side of crunchy – not the difficult side.

The carrots were a touch softer, provided in multiple baton format.

I was initially perturbed when I saw a new potato. What? No roast potatoes? But then I saw the roasties hidden behind. It was a large new potato – perfectly cooked with a good solidity and a softness inside. A bonus spud.

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The roast potatoes were, of course, not especially fresh and crispy. They were kind of a cross between cuboids and pyramids – they probably have a mathematical name but I am struggling to remember my own name right now. Quite long and appealing for reheated potatoes. They were a pretty decent effort.

Parsnips. There were a few parsnips too – very sweet and a touch soft despite having been roasted – the effects of the microwave again.

The lamb was a touch on the dry side. And a touch on the cooked quite a while ago side.

Bizarrely though, it was really tasty despite the lack of succulence. 3 fairly thick slices, so like the rest of the dinner, no compromise on quantity.

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Finalmente, el gravio was a very watery affair, but probably the best very watery affair that I’ve had. A relaxed yet flavoursome brown water with lots of little meat stock bits in. It was so good that I spooned some of the leftovers into my gob like a posh boy.

And that is that. Nearly.

The delightful young waitress who had been unerringly polite and quizzical about my experience, asked me for probably the third time how I had enjoyed it at the end of the meal. I told her it was good but that I wish there had been a Yorkshire pudding with it.

2 minutes later…

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Yes. A Yorkshire pudding on a small plate and I still had some gravy left over. Definite bonus points for customer experience. I even left a tip.

It could have been the worst Yorkshire pudding ever but I was over-joyed with the touch, and it was actually a good, albeit small yorkie anyway. Well-risen with a soft, crunchy texture.

The fact that it was my first oootdoor dining experience of the year may slightly skew my ratings – but a 7.7 out of 10 seems about right.

I guess the dryness of the lamb was the lowlight, but the flavour of the lamb was the highlight. On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it gets Scunthorpe. By the way did anyone go on Pornhub on April 1st? They had changed it to Cornhub, and there were lots of videos of sticks of corn getting down and dirty with each other. Oh yeah.

I wanted to stay for longer but alas there was only one train an hour and I had a date with a group of friends at the Walkabout, some of whom swear more in a sentence than I fucking do in a fucking year. Yes, I do actually have friends. Or people willing to occasionally entertain my presence in exchange for finding out where the best roast dinner is because they still haven’t subscribed to my ramblings.

Next Sunday is going to be an unusually early roast dinner – and co-incidentally the random number generator has picked somewhere that one of my Sunday friends was talking to me about. Fucking well recommended, apparently.

And yes, probably by myself. Ahhhh.



Pork @ Hind’s Head, Bray 17/04/2016

The Crown in Playhatch was one of the very first roast dinners that I reviewed. It hasn’t been topped. I’ve even gone back there to check that I didn’t over-rate it, and I did mark it a very slight fraction less the second time around, but like Bryan Adams, it still remains number one. Oh like a virgin, roasted for the very first time.

Oh that was Madonna wasn’t it? I went to Berlin once. More than once, actually, as it used to be the centre of minimal techno – my favourite music genre.  I’ve been twice.  Anyway, there were three of us, really into our underground music. We’d missed our flight on Saturday morning as my friends (now amicable ex-friends) were dicking around in the airport and they closed the gate, surprise surprise as I told them they would if we didn’t hurry up.

Warning – this story is quite long. We were re-booked onto a flight the next day and come the evening tried to go clubbing. The first place that we went to, we were told that we were way too sober – the people inside had been on it for several days.

Then we tried to get into Berghain – arguably the most famous of the Berlin clubs, certainly with the most famously impossible door-policy. The lights and music were on but we couldn’t even find a way to get rejected.

Running out of ideas, it was Sunday night, we headed towards this office block in the centre of Berlin which had a nightclub on the 11th floor. The doormen were welcoming, until they said it was €350 each to get in. Thankfully it was just their German sense of humour.

But then quite seriously he blocked our way and said “wait, wait, you do realise it is gay night, don’t you?”.

“Of course, the gays have the most fun,” my friend replied.

So yes, we had come to Berlin for minimal techno, and ended up watching trannies fake-suck-off guys whilst listening to Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”. Whilst high.

We didn’t invite anyone back to our apartment.

That was quite a tangent. You’ll have to give me a minute to stop thibking of the tranny’s cock and remember what I was talking about. I hope you have similar images right now.

Right. Nowwww then. Oh gosh I sound like Jimmy Savile now. In a dress. This really needs rescuing. How on earth did I get sacked by Get Reading?

Anyway. I really want to try to test The Crown before I am jailed for upsetting some middle eastern dictator and see if someone can take its crown. Was that better? I’m still relying on the random number generator for now but the Hind’s Head in Bray was somewhere that I thought had potential to beat it.

1. I have had several people recommend it.
2. It would be the most expensive roast dinner I’ve ever reviewed.
3. It has a Michelin Tyre thing.
4. The bloke on the table next to me said it was the best roast dinner he’d ever had, and apparently he was a tough man to please. Then again, he had an American accent so that might not be saying much.

Pork or beef were the two roast dinners available – I chose the pork at £23.50 (although it is advertised on the website at £20.99 – shoddy – insert totally smooth link to the fact that I do make decent websites should anyone want to hire me). The beef was £25.50 if I recall correctly, but I’d eaten it the previous weekend so pork was the only choice by my rules.

Service was proper throughout. The young lady on the greeting desk was very attractive, sorry, I mean courteous, my waitress had possibly the heaviest French accent I’ve ever encountered and was polite, helpful and…correct.

I was offered some water, so I asked for just a small glass. A whole jug arrived with some lemon slices, as did some bread and butter – being northern, my immediate thought was “this better be free”. I looked at it suspiciously before tentatively shoving large lumps into my gob.

It didn’t take too long for the roast to arrive, maybe just over 10 minutes, and my initial thoughts were “is that it”?

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No, I don’t know why I positioned the photos like that either.  I just fancied a change.

I’m not sure if it was that light at all on content, but it was missing a Yorkshire pudding. Apparently you don’t get them with pork at upmarket places.  I didn’t query their judgement.

There were 3 long strips (still thinking of the tranny?) of carrot, slightly soft, somewhat buttery and charred in a kind of diseased-looking way but oh these were wonderfully flavoursome carrots. Truly fabulous. If somewhere can do the carrots well, you know you are onto a good roast.

The handful of green beans were as close to perfection as possible. Quite heavily buttered, easy to cut but enough structure to give them some bite – I thought perhaps there was a tiny hint of garlic but I could have been imagining this.

On the plate there was a pile of something shredded that I couldn’t quite discern for definite. On looks I thought it was cabbage but on taste it was closer to onion. It didn’t add anything to the dinner.

Hmmm. Roast potatoes. Could they buck the trend and make good roast potatoes?

Yes. Four fairly small roast potatoes, cleverly so, perfectly soft and fluffy on the inside – freshly roasted and quite crispy on the outside. They actually looked like they had been deep-fried, but I’m presuming not, they certainly didn’t taste so – I expect the chef actually knew how to make crispy outsides. Not only that, they had a hint of rosemary too.

The Yorkshire pudding, oh, wasn’t. However I was supplied with both stuffing and crackling.

Both were decent, the stuffing being of bacon and herbs…I suspect sage more than any other, and came in a perfectly cylindrical tube, albeit much smaller than a tranny’s…erm. Did I mention it was herby? Moving on.

The crackling was crunchy, but edibly so. Just.

Three slices of pork loin were supplied and despite the decorative menu description and high price, I didn’t especially discern this to be especially distinguishable from any other pork loin that I’ve had. Yes it was tender, yes it was succulent and a good piece of pork loin, but I thought it might have been a bit special. It wasn’t. It was simply very good. I suspect that I may have been far more impressed had I chosen the beef – bad planning on my part.

Finally the gravy. It was a rich meat-stock affair, very thin and watery, and came in a tiny jug. Unusually for me, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask for more. I didn’t even take the opportunity to take my top off, fart and snort a line of white powder just to say I had done so in a Michelin Tyre establishment.

Mostly a minor issue, but something that surprised me from such a place, was that I found the gravy running down the knife onto the bottom of my hand and my wrist. Whether this was the design of the knife, the watery nature of the gravy or whether I have simply never been taught to hold a knife in an upper class way, I am entirely unsure of.

I did feel a bit out of place there. I’m not the common oik I used to be, hell, I vote Tory, but I really did feel that I was expected to spend more money than I did. The waitress seemed surprised that I didn’t want a starter, I chose the cheapest beer at £4.95 even though I didn’t actually want a beer and just felt a bit awkward. Maybe it was because I was eating alone.

I decided to leave as quickly as possible so I could walk through the rugby pitches on the way back to Maidenhead station and shout “poofter” at them, though the waitress was not too keen on collecting my money and I had to go up to the bar to pay which seemed totally incorrect but, hell, I’m a Tory and I do what I want.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a gorgeous pub with excellent service and very flavoursome food. But in the same kind of way as when I go to a Wetherspoons, I just didn’t feel like I belonged there. Same ish anyway. I belonged much more in that gay club.  And I really, really love boobs.

So summing it up for those who were too scared to read the above:

Highlight – the exquisite vegetables.
Lowlight – the nice but totally un-special pork.
On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it was practically in the sea – so I’ll give it a Worthing.

In terms of a score, this is probably the most difficult rating I’ve ever had to consider. Some people would give it a 9. And it was excellent food but a high-scoring roast dinner isn’t just about flavour. And it was very expensive at £23.50 – I should have reviewed this place when Get Reading used to pay for it.

I’m really not convinced about my score but I’m going to give it an 7.8 out of 10. Part of me thinks I’m being unfair, part of me thinks I’m being generous. I’d be especially interested in your thoughts and scores if you have had a roast dinner there.

Next weekend I am going to the new centre of minimal techno – Bucharest. I do get back on the Sunday evening but I’m more likely to put on a dress and give you a lap dance than be able to eat a roast dinner.

Don’t worry though – I do have a super special special feature lined up for you.

By the way I didn’t even get a look from the tranny, let alone a dance.

Beef @ The Royal Stag, Datchet 10/04/2016

This is for you.

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Yes, it is a toilet. But not just any toilet. It is a toilet in the Houses Of Parliament. I took this photograph especially for you, my dear readers.

Sadly they don’t seem to do roast dinners but they do offer excellent tours.

Speaking of toilets, I went to Datchet for the first time ever on Sunday. Actually it isn’t a toilet but they do seem to have an obsession with weddings, with two wedding dress shops, one formal clothing shop for men and a cake shop which seemed to specialise in wedding cakes, all on my 2 minute walk from the train station to The Royal Stag. And weddings are crap. Although the last time I was forced to go to a wedding, we were served a roast dinner. Yes, it was in Hull.

The Royal Stag was recommended to me so I was expecting a good roast dinner. Despite it being some years after the invention of the telegraph, there was no website – when I called (second time around as the first time they hung up and when I dialled back I just received the engaged tone – the kind of thing I do at work when I don’t want to speak to customers), they advised that they do roast dinners until roughly 7pm, however they also added that the roast dinners often run out, so I reserved a beef.

When I arrived at 4pm, the roast dinners had indeed run out – but mine was happily awaiting my arrival – hopefully not literally sat there waiting.

The other choices available were chicken, pork and lamb – all priced between £10.95 and £13.95.

Having initially been directed to the wrong table, I had a cosy table for one in a corner. I like corners, especially at after-parties. Nothing quite like sitting in a corner and inhaling nitrous oxide. Or gravy. The pub itself was quite cosy, though in places probably could do with a little care and attention. It seemed like a pub for locals – and I suspected that they had good reasons for repeated visits.

Dinner took somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes to arrive.

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A vegetable medley was supplied, with green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, chanteys carrots and mange tout.

There wasn’t enough of each of them to make it worthy of a sentence for each – just one lump of cauliflower and broccoli for example – all were on the crunchy side but not too much so and all had taste. If you like your chocolate on a biscuit vegetables crunchy, you’d be impressed.

The Chantilly carrots still had their skin on to give them that edge – and the inclusion of 6 mange tout (yes I counted) provided a bonus fraction of a point as mange tout put all other beans to shame.

Totally unsurprisingly there were 3 roast potatoes, though they were large – you could even call them very large. And they were fluffy on the inside. Totally unsurprisingly you couldn’t call them crispy on the outside – they did have a touch of having been laid around for a while but not disastrously so. I was at least content with them.

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I was more than content with the Yorkshire pudding which was close to perfection. The size of a babies face to quote my recommender (whom I randomly bumped into outside), it was soft on the bottom, yet held the gravy without going soggy and had crispy edges. Hats off to the chef for one of the best yorkies for some time.

For the beef there were two 2mm slices – folded to make it look like there was more than there actually was. You may have noticed an almost complete lack of complaints, for my standards anyway, but for £13.95 I’d expect at least a third slice of beef – it did seem a tad stingy.

Thankfully the beef was very nice, quite pink so on the medium-rare shelf, and particularly juicy too.

And guess what else happened? I received thick gravy. Well – not as thick as cement, as I prefer, but thick gravy as more normal people would enjoy. There was a very slight hint of something about it, perhaps red wine, I’m not entirely sure, but a good THICK meat-stock gravy. I was happy.

But. Oh yeah there’s a but. Quite a big but too – bigger than mine after all the roast dinners I’ve had. Now, I asked for extra gravy. I probably could have survived without as there was just about enough on the plate, but I’m northern and we like our food to be swimming in gravy. In fact, I dream of a swimming pool of gravy. Can you swim in gravy?

More was forthcoming but when I received the bill at the end I’d been charged £1 for what to a northerner is a basic human right. At no point had I been advised of this.

It does have to be taken into context of what was good gravy on a good roast dinner. But it stops me giving them an 8 out of 10 – an 8 probably being harder to achieve than a Michelin Star and they were so close.

Butt I enjoyed my visit. It was a very good roast. The Yorkshire pudding was my favourite part – the lowlights are relatively minor gripes, particularly just two slices of beef.

I’m going to give it a 7.9 out of 10. If you go and I hope that you do, don’t forget to order in advance if you want to guarantee a roast! Oh yeah – it’s a Macclesfield on the Yorkshire-Surrey scale.

I considered staying for dessert, but no dessert menu was offered to me – maybe they didn’t proffer any sweets. But I suspect that like their lack of website, they are simply missing their opportunities.

I enjoyed my visit, so hopefully this review will raise awareness of a good little pub.

Next Sunday I’m going up in the world. In theory it should be the best roast dinner I’ve ever had. In practice it may just be some overpriced poncey crap with jus.

By the way, I do think myself more suitable for the House Of Lords than the House Of Commons. Lord Gravy of Bracknell. I am normal.

Pork @ The Queen’s Oak, Finchampstead 20/03/2016

Sometimes I am the Peter Mandelson of creativity. That is not the case today.

Those of you with a keen memory that have travelled down the M40 may remember the graffiti “Why Do I Do This Every Day?”.

It was painted over, only to be replaced some time later with “Why Do I Still Do This Every Day?”.

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In the same way that I got up, had a shower, made my breakfast, went to work, etc etc this morning, yesterday I woke up and worked out how I was going to accomplish my roast dinner mission with an automation that would make the most autistic autoist autopilot automatically proud.

Why do I do this every week?

I was even more tired yesterday than I am today, after an initial hour-long burst of activity, I was ready to go back to bed by 11am. I soldiered on as I had booked a table at the Queen’s Oak in Finchampstead for midday.

Ahhhh – midday. That should then guarantee good roast potatoes shouldn’t it? Surely there was no chance that they would have been sitting there for hours?

The pub itself was odd and rather weathered – not in a hipster kind of way either. Partitioned into two, arguably beneficial given my fragile state yesterday and the Christening going on in the larger room – according to our table neighbour this would be so they could get into a good school. Yes it was cosy but space was at a premium and it was as if you were sat on the same table as your table neighbours – or at least it seemed that way to my socialist accomplice who kept trying to join in with their conversation. It isn’t the north, my friend.

Anyway, the chairs were plastic. Have you ever bought a plastic crown from Poundland, whilst dressing up as a king/queen? The chairs were something kind of along those lines, sat against walls of nicotine yellow and dark blood red. If I didn’t feel uncomfortable and ill beforehand, I did now.

This is all incidental though. Good food is what matters. There were no menus either online from the equally shabby-looking Wix website, or in the pub itself. There was a specials board but if you wanted to know what was on it, you’d have to go have a look at the board next door as they weren’t going to tell you.

We were miserably advised where our table was, so we toddled off to locate it. It took a good 10 minutes before we were asked what we wanted and offered the option of having a drink. I wasn’t in the slightest dehydrated after a heavy weekend, not at all. Options were pork, beef and lamb. I went for the pork at £11.50 – my accomplice went for the lamb at £12.50.

Things improved after the inauspicious start – the dinner looked decent despite my continually-bad photography.

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The vegetables came in a side-dish so we’ll start there. Both the broccoli and green beans were predictably ordinary. Softer than ideal – the green beans were unusually dark too.

There were a fair few full baby carrots – cooked with roots complete, crunchy and sweet. In fact they were actually a bit larger than baby carrots – I think they have a proper name. The pick of the vegetables by a long way.

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So how about the midday roast potatoes that I had high hopes would not have been sat around for hours turning into a car tyre? Well, they hadn’t been sat around for hours and they weren’t made of rubber either.

However, instead they were quite well-undercooked and not roasted either. The taste and texture was that of a deep-fried potato – they were closer to enlarged flat chips and certainly not what I would call a roast potato.

The Yorkshire pudding was quite bowl-like. Homemade and a touch too thin and crispy in places – a smidgen overdone and burnt on top but overall not too bad despite my unappealing description.

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There were four smallish slices of pork loin. It didn’t really stand out in any way so I blame the Tories because they promised me 5 slices by 2021 but instead they cut this to 4 slices instead of the usual 3 slices. My friend also said that the lamb was good. Then again he thought that the “roast” potatoes were really good too. Oh yeah and he votes Labour.

Thanks to Iain Duncan-Smith’s resignation, the cuts were reversed and stuffing was provided both with the pork and lamb dishes. This was a ball of joy – homemade, packed full of herbtastic taste.

I even had Steven Crabb crackling which was edible despite me having been attacked by the evil Tory dentist earlier in the week. A mixture of crunch and soft fat, this was quite delicious.

But not a patch on the pig in blanket which was just drool-worthy. I probably was dribbling. I am possibly still dribbling now. It was again homemade sausage meat – stumpy but fat – a bit like Eric Pickles. Sorry, Sir Eric Pickles MBE.

I appreciate that my review didn’t flow this week. I’m not even going to attempt to improve it apart from to check spelling/grammar mistakes of which there was a record amount.

Gosh I had forgotten about the gravy. My socialist friend said it was like a jus. It wasn’t. It was quite a thick, gloopy gravy. There was almost none on the plate but it came with a large gravy boat. Fairly ordinary but ordinary gravy is most acceptable. I’m really not firing on all cylinders today, am I?

What they did well at The Queens Oak pub (be careful if using your sat nav trying to locate this place) they did well – in particular my favourite being the pig in blanket. The deep fried potatoes were below par and not enjoyable. It was a pretty northern affair – I’d be tempted to rate it a Featherstone.

I’m going to give it a 7.4 out of 10. Were it not for the little extras, then it would have been around a 6.2.

Next weekend I’m up north again – the weekend after I’m clubbing so you might have to wait 3 weeks until the next review. But after the linguistic crapness of this review, I doubt that you will be crying into your gravy.

Oh yeah there was a parsnip too.  There was something not quite right about it – perhaps it was deep fried too.

Can I go back to bed?

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No I cannot be bothered to rotate it.

Beef @ The Baskerville, Shiplake 13/03/2016

In years to come, I expect that you’ll look back on this period of your life as a rather special couple of years, thanks to my almost-weekly roast dinner reviews.

For what else can provide you with such joy, love and ecstasy on a Monday? This Monday being an exception, of course, assuming your partner realises that it is the 14th March (Google ‘14th March’ if you are not aware of what I’m on about). Given that I was completely unsuccessful with my offer of buying dinner for someone on Valentine’s Day, I have not attempted to find anyone to cook me steak tonight. I did, however once watch a dwarf give himself a blow job at Manumission in Ibiza.

Which leads me nicely onto yet another utterly grim experience that I put myself through this week for my beloved readers – a rail replacement bus.

I could have got the modern, Reading buses bus from next to my house but no, for the sake of saving £2.15 I walked 30 minutes to Bracknell train station to catch the rail replacement bus and was apparently the only one to buy a ticket. I sat upstairs and immediately was overcome with fart. Right behind me were a group of troublesome tossers, assumedly from the shithole that is Ascot.

The random number generator chose The Baskerville in Shiplake, which I had hoped would be provide a good roast dinner, as I had a guest in tow this week, not to mention it was on the pricey side at £18.00 for the beef, £17.00 for the lamb and £15.00 for the pork.

The Baskerville is split into a small bar area showing a non-existent sport, with a much larger restaurant area with sturdy tables and chairs, candles and weird stick things in small vases. For some reason it seemed as though the ceiling was much higher than it was.

A 10-15 minute wait ensued once we were seated, having arrived quite some time before our booking – the roast was supplied on a plate with a relatively small bowl of vegetables to be shared – though more was forthcoming upon request, for free.

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Starting with the more ordinary vegetables, the large clumps of cauliflower were quite on the crunchy side – the smaller bunches of broccoli being a little on the soft side. Both very ordinary but acceptable.

Then came the honey-roasted carrots and parsnips. Too strong a taste of honey for me, too strong a taste of thyme for my dining partner, yet I don’t want this to detract from the extra effort that had gone into this part of the dish. All too often carrots are served so boringly. Boring these were not.

Almost slightly complex in taste, I enjoyed them but couldn’t eat too many of them. The honey perhaps not complimenting the parsnips so much and they were also quite under-roasted – the carrots being close to perfection in that regard. I definitely appreciated the herbs – maybe my dining partner had simply enjoyed too many ‘herbs’ already during the weekend.

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I really am getting worse at photography.

Sadly the roast potatoes were of the “if only I had booked a table for midday” variety. Roasted, yes but not recently, and hence were rather rubbery in texture. Only 3 but I wouldn’t want any more.

Saviour came with the Yorkshire pudding which was the best I’ve had in well over a year. As close to perfect as they get down here, a fairly large size with a crispy enough texture on the edge, soft but not too soft on the bottom. And somehow the taste was just divine. I don’t know how they managed it – there was just something different about it.  Wow.

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And the beef was, thankfully, excellent too. My brows on fleek were raised somewhat when I saw that it was medium cooked rather than my preference of rare but this didn’t detract from 3 very pleasant slices of good-quality matured beef.

My accomplice originally requested the leg of lamb but they had run out – so had to replace it with lamb shank.  What a delightful disaster as the lamb shank was packed full of meat – a proper bone from a proper animal, pink and just delightful to taste.

Finally the gravy was fine.  A thin meat-stock affair that was totally inoffensive.  Us Northerners have to accept that you lot don’t like your gravy to resemble cement so as long as it is gravy, I’ll accept without much complaint.

So, a good roast dinner – poor roast potatoes, amazing Yorkshire pudding.  On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it rates around a Stanton-On-The-Wolds.

In fact, the drug-ravaged beauty that accompanied me to dinner, even managed to finish all of her dinner.  If you can stomach a full roast dinner after a very fun weekend of nightclubs and after-parties, that is a sign of a good dinner.  I had no difficulties in stomaching mine after spending 80% of my waking time coding websites.  Which should be less fun but I seem to enjoy it a lot.

I’m going to give the roast dinner a 7.6 out of 10 – a notch higher too due to the excellent service that we had throughout.  It was a very enjoyable dinner, with imperfections, but a super host from Tadcaster.  Now that is a proper town.

And then I got a rail replacement bus back which was built in the 1960’s, probably by British Rail and stank of damp (well British Leyland made trains so why not the other way around?).  Apparently people want the return of British Rail.  One assumes these people never travelled by train or bus before privatisation.  Before I go I would like to leave you with a tourist tip – the city of the future is Hull.  Make sure you get your holiday booked.  They still have these buses in Hull.  It still smells of fish in places.  And occasionally, chemicals.

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This may or may not be the bus that I caught back to Bracknell.

Next weekend is my turn to be a drug-ravaged beauty.  The random number generator has picked somewhere quite abominable but I think I might over-rule it.  Or maybe just stay in bed smoking viagra so I can…no that is a step too far even for me.

On Tour Episode 1 of Probably 1

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but not only has Edible Reading declined to provide you with a local restaurant review, I also were otherwise engaged this weekend – on retox. Not even Get Reading managed to accidentally bump into the managing director of an establishment to co-incidentally bring you yet another unsurprisingly gushing review of the local chicken shop. And Shit Things doesn’t eat out, except for the occasional bag of pork scratching.

That said, I did eat out quite a few times this weekend and I like to bore people more than a friendly game between England and San Marino so here are some words about eating out elsewhere.

First up on Friday night was a trip to Cau, in Reading, paid for by those people who fund my crystal meth addiction in return for me sitting at a desk 37.5 hours a week and not a minute longer, looking pretty and occasionally having an argument with a customer. It was the first half of our reward for achieving our year-end cash collection target. The second half of our reward being getting sacked.

In case you don’t know, this is a proper Argentinian restaurant in the Oracle, which despite being a chain, I had very high hopes for. If they can do a roast dinner in the 8’s, then they had to know their steak. Despite it being a steak restaurant, they do other meals too though I didn’t even bother looking. If I’m not paying then I’m having the most expensive steak feasible, which was the Asado De Chorizo steak. There was a feast option at around £85 but I decided that proper surpassed any feasibility study, unless Tony Page decided to take another long and expensive look at changing the IDR to a one-way system.

We sensibly decided that a starter would be too ambitious, but had some bread with humous which I don’t care to spell correctly – I actually have some in my fridge for reason that I am unaware of and probably should delete the sentence for. It was glorious, with some herbs and possibly mushrooms mixed in. If I wasn’t already a convert to glorified mushy chick-peas, I now was.

Then after a more-than-palatable 30 minute wait, a big lump of meat arrived. The waiter advised me against rare, as due to the size of it, the centre would be uncooked, and he was right, as the centre was pretty close to uncooked on a medium rare.

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The chorizo glaze was just magnificent and the steak was melt-in-your-mouth kind of fantastic. I did have a bit of a tough fatty side in places, but this was just a minor demeanour to a monstrous 500g steak. There were thick-cut chips too though I do not actually remember anything about them. Maybe it was the house Malbec – gloriously fruity such as it was, maybe they were just utterly unimportant.

A sensible person would have hoisted their imaginary white flag at this point (unfortunately my imagination was too slow to buy a Falklands flag from Ebay though I did look into it) – dessert was being paid for so dessert was being eaten. I had the cheesecake which was very nice, though again I’m struggling to remember much about it. I also tried the churros which were either poor, or everyone I’ve spoken to has talked up churros and they are not that great a dessert (or breakfast, as mi compañero Español insistes) – these were quite dry and seemingly not freshly made.

Service was exceptional throughout, very attentive and spirited – almost seemingly as excited to be there as we were.

I’ve had few better dining experiences in my life (though obviously most dining experiences are very average roast dinners) and I so highly recommend this place at a 9.2 out of 10.

Next up was a stinkingly striking contrast at the National Dining Rooms in the National Gallery.

Believe it or not, I have actually been to a couple of art galleries in my life. I tend to look at a painting for 2 seconds, decide it is nice, and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice, then look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and look at the next one for 2 seconds, decide it is nice and then wait 10 minutes for my friend to finish looking at them so we can move into the next room and repeat the process, then move into the next room and repeat the process, then move into the next room and repeat the process, then move into the next room and repeat the process. Feel like you are watching England vs San Marino yet?

I also went to the Tate Modern once and that was bewilderingly boring.

Minor hangover in place, there was no requirement to grow a beard and pretend to be cultured, so I just met my family at the restaurant. With much alcohol ahead of me, a main meal was required, though the menu was limited in that respect. I chose the fish pie.

Bad move. Those with nut allergies are generally advised on the menu which dishes have nuts included. Vegan and vegetarians are catered for as are those with gluten-intolerances. But what about those of us with pea phobias? And it isn’t just me with a pea phobia.

Yes the fish pie came packed full of peas. Not just one or two – but dozens of the bastards. I fished out the bits of haddock, and rare miniscule flakes of salmon, but sadly this was mostly inedible. I doubt I would have been impressed had it been pea-free either. Once finished, I sat there, desperate for a pea, sorry, pee, for a good 20 minutes, waiting for my opportunity to tell the waiter of my disappointment. I finally went to empty my bladder at which point they collected the plates.  Oh and I should mention the green beans, which was actually exceptionally soggy cabbage – holding more water than the Mosul Dam.

Despite my moderate incandescence, I soldiered onto dessert. I had a scone which was dry and slightly over-baked, though somewhat tempered by a tiny triangle of clotted cream and a large pot of strawberry jam.

The service took longer than some of the paintings, and throughout was exceptionally slow – drinks sat waiting on the bar for collection 10+ minutes each time. I might have forgiven had the really hot waitress been serving us – thankfully my sister had the gumption to refuse the 10% service charge…and nearly even collected our drinks from the bar.

A really disappointing experience, and we should have gone to a Wetherspoons – 2.5 out of 10.

In the evening I headed north-east to The Clapton Hart. This is an Oakford Social Club kind of place but a couple of notches up on the quality – a pub for a younger but chav-free crowd, with a suspiciously permanent queue for the cubicles and hardly anyone using the urinals, disco music farting out of the small, incapable 1940’s speakers with more tables than mis-matched school teacher’s room chairs. Oh but you do get served at the bar efficiently.

I originally had no intention of eating here, but a few flakes of haddock and a crap scone was not going to get me through to the after-party to spend hours watching people drunkenly mistake ketamine for cocaine, so I ordered burger and chips. The chips were the triple-cooked kind that all hipster places do – I was expecting them stacked neatly jenga-style but instead they were slovenly piled up. Nice chips though. The burger was in what I imagine a brioche bun to be without ever having had one – the burger itself fell apart ingloriously half-way through yet was a decent homemade effort, replete with cheap vinegar-based ketchup.

Decent but you probably read about it with as much interest as I ate it. 6.5 out of 10.

Last but not least was the Human Traffic experience – Sunday Lunch with the parents after a heavy night out – albeit I had had not gone clubbing or done any ecstasy.

The location was The Three Stags close to Lambeth – a small diamond of a boozer in a suitably rough location.

It wasn’t easy to find somewhere unpretentious to book in advance on Mother’s Day – many places we tried were fully booked. If only there was a roast dinner blogger in London. Maybe there will be one day, maybe there will. I’ve only been threatening to move there for 12 years now.

For £21.00 I had the roast lamb (I’ll also need a significant pay rise if I’m to review roast dinners in London!). It was well presented – sadly with too slightly crunchy vegetables, anaemic white roast potatoes (though actually roasted), a large yet slightly dry and rubbery Yorkie (a bit like the insides of my mouth), along with a slightly odd tasting gravy.

Of which, of course there was not enough.

On the bright side, the portions were plentiful, the cauliflower cheese very good, as was the meat – both the lamb and the beef were very nice – particularly the peppered beef – another ordering misteak from me as I clearly should have had the beef.

A 6.2 out of 10.

And then it was time for a walk in the hail to go catch a train to bed.

Hopefully you made it through my first and probably only episode of RDAR On Tour.

Next weekend I am back on duty and going to lunch with two boner fide hotties – no I’m not getting a threesome before you ask – two very good friends. And hopefully if Reading’s number one weather forecaster is right, we might even get sat outside in some pleasant sunshine for the first time this year.

More importantly, Edible Reading is back too – with a review of Cosmo. I have a sneaky suspicion that he won’t find it quite as abominable as she is expecting. I haven’t been invited to join he/she for what is the local culinary occasion of 2016.

I should finish by clarifying that I have not been sacked. Yet.

Test number 2

This is a second test – sorry – trying something new!