With Vladimir Putin flexing his muscles, I thought that I should do the same on Sunday and took a long walk to Shiplake, via Sonning Beach.
It was a pleasant 2.5 hour riverside walk, though the mud ensured that this was more of a pleasant spring walk than a March march.
The Plowden Arms was my destination, chosen by random number generator, my favourite way to make a decision.
They actually found me a couple of months ago and suggested to me on Twitter that they had a very good roast. I had to check it out. If any pubs/restaurants around Reading are reading please do make yourselves are to me. Unless you do a bad roast – in which case you might not want to. I don’t take any prisoners (of war).
The pub itself was a quaint traditional village pub with some very old music playing – it reminded me of the kind of music they would play in the war to keep up morale. Wait a minute, were the Russians advancing?
Two choices on the menu for roast fans – pork shoulder with crackling or beef sirloin. As I had pork last weekend, I had no choice but to go for beef. As I am trying to lose excess weight, under orders from my sergeant, so I chose just to have the main course for £16.00.
I have to say that the whole menu looked really interesting with various more adventurous offerings than your local Wetherspoons. But I am here to talk roasts, and roasts only.
Dinner arrived within 20 minutes and I was immediately pleased to see the home-cooked nature.
The vegetables arrived in three separate dishes. I am pretty sure that one dish would have sufficed.
Carrots first. They were slightly unusual tasting but in a good way. So many places just seem to serve up standard boiled carrots when it is so easy to turn an average vegetable into a taste sensation. Honey and caraway was the flavour – I’m not a fan of honey but it was just a hint enough to be enjoyable. I have no idea what caraway is. This is not a northern ingredient.
The cauliflower cheese was good. Tender cauliflower with creamy cheese over it. A vast improvement from the place I reviewed last week.
King cabbage was…cabbage. I didn’t eat too much of it. Cabbage is cabbage. I just don’t really know what to say about this.
The roast potatoes were very good. Not quite as soft and fluffy on the inside as would have been ideal, more firm that soft. But look at those crispy edges. And they were of a good size too. A good spud.
My mother would make similar Yorkshire puddings to the one which was delivered. It wasn’t the biggest, or the best but it was a good home-cooked Yorkshire pudding. But my mother would have given me three Yorkshires, not one.
However my mother would not cook similar beef as she seems to think pink meat is bad. I love pink meat. The waitress did advise upon ordering that they cooked their beef pink, which I thought was a good touch – as my mother would not have been keen. In fact the service was good throughout and it only dawns on me now that I forgot to leave a tip. Hopefully this good review will go some way to compensate. My mother doesn’t like my hair cut either.
So back onto le beouf, and it was succulent tender sirloin beef. A really nice piece of beef. I was a tad disappointed with just two fairly thin slices of beef as I do love my meat. But quality is more important than quantity. Oh there is one thing to mention though – I had a butter knife to cut the beef. Now it wasn’t exactly difficult to cut such good quality, tender beef – but it did seem odd.
Gravy. I didn’t need to ask for more gravy as I mentioned it on my online booking with the special consideration of ‘gravy’. They understood. Not only was there a reasonable amount on the plate but there was an accompanying gravy boat too. Maybe they knew who I was? Maybe my cover has been blown? Oh and it was a good consistency, a touch of thickness and a meaty taste.
I did really enjoy the meal and was disappointed that I couldn’t stay for dessert as I had changed my mind by this point. I had to rush off to get the hourly train back to barracks and knew that there was heavy rain on the way (you may also know me from Weather Forecast for Reading). Also I didn’t want to risk catching trenchfoot.
I’m going to give it a good round 8 out of 10. I do recommend it if you are willing to take a trip out into the countryside – it is along the A4155 or a 25 minute walk from Shiplake train station. Or a 2.5 hour walk along the Thames. Sunday lunch is served midday until 330pm.
Next weekend I intend on going to a nice country pub and sitting in the garden to enjoy a roast and a pint. My month-long detox will be over and I shall be having a nice vodka or two. Unless it is on war embargo, in which case it will be a nice pint of cider. In the sunshine. I cannot wait.
I’m ready for you Mr Putin.