Beef @ The Bull, Sonning 01/11/2015

This week I was really looking for somewhere that would go off with a bang, perhaps where I could roast my hands around a bonfire…I wanted a good roast dinner…if it wasn’t sparkling then there would be fireworks. Sigh.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to put you through a pun-laden themed review again. There I was last Monday thinking how brilliantly-written my Halloween roast dinner review was, but what did I get in return? Nothing. Not a “thank you that was hilarious”, no job-offers, no date-offers, not even a new follower.

So this week, I just went for a roast dinner. Chosen by random number generator. Paid for by my tax credits that the Lords kindly let me keep last week. Well, it was either spend it on a roast, or get a pedicure.

Oh damn, I said no theme.

The pub in question was The Bull in Sonning. Not the easiest to get to without a car – I ended up walking to and from the town centre which is around an hour or so each way – plus with the time to get to and from Bracknell and some shopping in the town centre, meant this was a 5 hour round mission. I need more friends with cars.

I was surprised when I arrived to find that it wasn’t actually the pub I thought it was – I thought it was The Great House with its river views. The Bull I found around a few corners, in a secluded spot next to a church.

Inside was charming, and dark. Low ceilings and black wooden beams gave it an authentic and aged feel, I can imagine that it might be a nice place to take a young lady on a first date. Assuming she liked walking or had a car. For it did have a romantic feel to it too.

The roast dinners on offer were beef, lamb and pork. I dearly wished I could have had a special as they just read beautifully, but you know, public service and all that. I asked the waitress for her recommendation, and she convinced me that beef was the way forward. In fact she was the epitome of good pub service, welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. On the off-chance that management are reading, give her a gold star (short, thin young lady with light brown hair). Granted, I should have left a gold coin, it totally slipped my mind to tip. Doh.

It did take a while to arrive, perhaps just over 20 minutes, but this is absolutely no problem for me – if I wanted quick food I would have gone to Wetherspoons. I am always happy to sit there, wait and let them take their time over the dinner.

And when it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much food there was. Especially with the size of the Yorkshire pudding.

I’ll start with the side-dish. Half of it was red cabbage, it is was elegantly fruity, soft but with a bite to it. It did seem to go on forever though, there was so much of it to eat for just one person.

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The second half was broccoli cheese. Except it was very white for broccoli and had the texture of cauliflower. I still cannot write broccoli without the spellchecker. Well, I did that time but only because it was already on screen. Anyway, the cauliflower again was soft, but had a bite to it – there was some kind of sporadic orange dusting, and a burnt spot, which suggested it was supposed to be cauliflower cheese but there was no cream evident, nor cheese flavour so I’m not entirely sure what happened. It was nice cauliflower though. Maybe the waitress should get a silver star seeing as her promised broccoli cheese was cauliflower.

There was a large pile of mashed swede. I’m still not overly convinced by swede. Is it actually from Sweden? Again like the red cabbage, there almost seemed too much of it which should be an oxymoron on a roast. I had a hint of another flavour, but my simple taste buds could not quite work out what.

Actually I just remembered that the swede was on the side-plate and red cabbage on the main plate.

So onto the part of the review that you care about even more than my introductory wibbling. Roast potatoes.

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They were not a patch on last week’s crispy delights, but they were freshly cooked. Sadly they had more of an oily rubbery edge to them, but they were soft in the centre, there were 4 decent sized roast potatoes and they were good enough. Considering the amount of places that serve duff spuds, I’d say these were a little better than acceptable.

Then onto the piece de resistance. The waitress had promised me that the beef was perfectly cooked. I had to question her further on this, as what is “perfectly cooked” beef? To me, it would be rare. To my mum it is fairly well-done. Her explanation was explanatory – lightly pink in the middle, but quite well done on the edge. She explained the reasoning behind it but I cannot remember.

It worked.

To elaborate, the beef was indeed very tender, so easy to cut, it was slightly pink as promised, possibly slightly more pink than slightly pink but it was difficult to see in the darkened room. It was pretty close to melting in my mouth.

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It was complimented well with the very large yorkie, which had crispy edges and a gravy-induced soft bottom. Close to yorkie perfection. I certainly cannot do better. Or even half as good.

And finally, the gravy was a fairly standard meat-stock based affair, not especially thick but enough consistency for a northerner not to throw a banger at the chef. Oh.

I guess you’ve worked out that it is going to get a good score. There is slight room for improvement, especially with the roast potatoes but this was easily one of the best roast dinners I’ve had on my travels. My main gripe is that there was too much red cabbage! Which seems very odd to say.

I’m going to give it an 8.1 out of 10. Which makes it the joint 5th best roast dinner around Reading. And gives me the opportunity to say that The Bull is nearly as good as The Bull.

I did have to book a table, and they were fully booked until 4pm (they serve until 9pm) – clearly others know how good this place is. It was on the expensive side at £16.50 but I guess it keeps the riff-raff out. But not yesterday, a ha ha ha.

By the way, I don’t actually get tax credits. But I am considering applying to be a Lord. Lord Gravy of Berkshire.

Next week I’m going somewhere which will really interest you. And I know they want me to review them. Let’s hope they know what they are letting themselves in for.

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