Beef @ The Fox & Hounds (Theale) 30/11/2014

It’s been a while since the last review.  Weekends away along with rather special
hangovers on other occasions have denied my ability to review a roast dinner –
and it isn’t exactly as if I can go for a Sunday roast on a Thursday evening
instead.
Sunday came and a very noisy house meant that I was awake
several hours before I desired, though also before my hangover had kicked in so
I span my imaginary compass and headed west towards Theale.  Or is it Burghfield?
A 6.5 mile walk being enough to work up a hunger.  I called the Fox & Hounds in advance to
book a table – it was fairly busy though I am sure they would have been able to
seat me without the advance reservation.
The pub itself is a country-ish pub – out in the sticks but
close enough to local villages of Theale and Burghfield to keep it busy.  Clean and tidy inside, with slightly-rustic
tables – plenty of outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi – important when one is
dining by oneself (I was hesitant to arrange to meet anyone for a roast in case
given the anticipated hangover).  Plenty
of seating outside too for pleasant summer drinking.
The final point before I get onto the real subject matter is
the drinks – little is more disappointing than turning up to a pub and finding
out that they sell nothing more adventurous than Carling/Strongbow, etc.  This wasn’t the case – the drinks available
were of good quality – I had a very nice country cider which I had not had
before – I cannot recall the brand but let’s face it, the only liquid of real
interest here is gravy.
Beef or turkey were the choices – the cows I passed on the
way had turned my mind to beef so that was an easy choice.  I waited 15-20 minutes for it to arrive which
is what one would prefer – it is always wondrously concerning when a roast
dinner arrives just 5 minutes after ordering, like it did at The Cunning Man.
The vegetables were presented in a separate dish to the real
part of the roast – the vegetable bowls being larger the more populated your
table was.  Overall the presentation was
good – not enough gravy for my northern-tastes but this was soon resolved with
a request for extra gravy.  And I approved of the carrots standing up.  And if the Moderation chef is reading – more than 2 carrots!
 
Cabbage isn’t my favourite vegetable – especially not the
red variety.  It was quite crunchy and
made an acceptable accomplice.  The baby
carrots were good – perfectly cooked if a tad uninteresting.  The final root-based offering was mashed parsnip.  A pleasant taste but I would have much rather
have had whole roasted parsnips.  Overall
not my favourite medley of vegetables but I did appreciate the effort to
differentiate.
3 roast potatoes seemed a bit stingy.  At least they were sizable and cooked well –
albeit with soggy rather than crispy outsides.
The Yorkshire pudding was excellent.  Close to perfection – a soft base, crispy
outsides and delightfully large – probably the best Yorkshire pudding in the
reviews so far.
An excellent fork-friend to the decent standard beef – which
was two pleasingly large slices of an average depth – one assumes topside of
beef.  It had an outer rim of fat
alongside one edge – not to everyone’s liking but always to mine.  It was good but nothing special.
And onto the item which can really make or break a roast –
the gravy.  It was normal beef
gravy.  No strange taste.  Like the rest of the roast dinner it was
decent but unremarkable.  Nowhere near as
thick as I would prefer but one has to remember that I was having a roast in
Burghfield – not Bradford.
Given that the last two reviews have featured bad gravy –
unremarkable was most welcome.
The price was £10.95 which down here is reasonable.  Up north and one would be moaning.  The service was sufficiently pleasant enough
for a Yorkshire man to leave a tip.
Definitely worth noting is that they only serve roasts until
2:30pm.  They advised booking in advance but as I mentioned, I am not sure it is necessary.
It was certainly a commendable roast dinner overall.  The best I have had since early this year at
The Crown in Playhatch – which really still stands out as the best in the local
area and is clearly going to take some beating.
In numbers The Fox & Hounds roast gets a reasonably decent 7.0 out of me.
Recommended – you will enjoy it but you probably won’t write
about it.
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