Duck @ The Greyhound, Finchampstead 21/02/2016

I came up with a great introduction on Friday for this roast review. I have forgotten what it was.

I’m not feeling especially comedic today so maybe I’ll just get down to business. I can hear your collective sigh of relief.

I’d tried to book a table at The Greyhound a couple of weeks ago, despite there only being one train every two hours, and then a 50 minute walk from the station. Sadly they were fully booked. I took that as a good sign.

Travelling back from Hull yesterday, I had no intention of anything that involved a second mission – had I no accomplice, I doubt I would have bothered at all.

Thankfully, driver in place, we set off to our pre-booked table, despite the attempts of Hull Trains to delay me, albeit only by 35 minutes this time as opposed to 4 hours on Christmas Eve. And then I had to wait 8 minutes for a tube train. 8 minutes. Seriously. What are TFL playing at?

We were warmed greeted by our host, who even offered to take our jackets. My immediate thoughts were that this was a little more upmarket than the boy from ‘Ull is used to. I was confident of a well-presented roast dinner. But would it be any good?

Three roast dinners were on offer; Aberdeen Angus rump of beef, Hampshire pork loin and honey & orange glazed duck breast. It had to be the duck at £16.50. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the first ever Roast Dinners Around Reading duck review. I do try not to eat duck because I would like to be re-incarnated as a duck. Well, I’d like to be re-incarnated as a human ideally, maybe a Jamaican gangster, but a duck is my second choice.

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Oh I did say no talking crap didn’t I?

There was a fair wait for our roast dinners, maybe 20 minutes or so, I didn’t time it, as we watched dish after dish come out for what looked like quite an exquisite buffet. Certainly not the type of buffet you’d get in Hull.

Don’t forget – longer waits are a good sign.

Once the dinner arrived, it was immaculately presented, as I had expected.

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Firstly there was something I’d never even seen before – which looked like the vegetable equivalent of a dinosaur. Extra points not only for novelty but for introducing me to something new – I couldn’t work out if it was closer to cauliflower or broccoli. Taste-wise it was closer to cauliflower, albeit not so strong. Quite crunchy too.

Gosh I’m going into a second paragraph for a vegetable. Wikipedia doesn’t help me understand what to classify this as. To quote, “Romanesco broccoli, also known as Roman cauliflower, Broccolo Romanesco, Romanesque cauliflower or simply Romanesco”. So I shall call it Dinosaur Cauliflower. So happy to have had something inventive on the roast. Hint, hint chefs.

And a third paragraph. Even better than that, the number of spirals on the head of the Dinosaur Cauliflower is a Fibonacci number. You do know what a Fibonacci number is, don’t you?

Accompanying this was a collection of “roots”. Initially I was expecting that, just some plant roots, or maybe tree roots. Until I “twigged”. Sorry.

There were only a few of each, all roasted, all succulent, all bordering on excellent. The carrots were the pick, sliced lengthways and wonderfully buttery. Or maybe the parsnips were the pick with their sweetness. The swede wasn’t the pick but it was good, nonetheless. If I were being picky, then maybe the parsnips could have done with a few more minutes roasting.

I nearly forgot to mention it but there were a few leaves of spinach – deliciously buttery. Why wasn’t there more spinach?!

So far, so very good. But could they pass the roast potato test?

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Just about. The potatoes were roasted properly and tasted good. Perhaps roasted in duck fat – there was a hint of having been cooked in something nicer, but not strong. That said, they were on the cold side – had I gone for the roast a few hours before, I’d probably have been very impressed with them. Fairly crispy on the outside, fairly soft on the inside, with just a hint of rosemary and cracked pepper. Good but not perfect.

The Yorkshire pudding was disappointing. Though it had risen some way, it was dry, overcooked, a little chewy and ultimately pointless.

Alas, the gravy was also uninspiring. That said, these more upmarket places can ruin gravy by doing wanky jus, and this wasn’t a jus, just justifiably a thin, watery inoffensive gravy. Fine but given the quality on offer elsewhere on the plate, my expectations were not met.

Did you know Donald Duck used to smoke?

I’m going to struggle to describe how good the duck was. It was sliced into 6mm pieces, cooked close to a medium-rare with enough pink showing. The meat itself was tender, juicy, with a slight layer of fat and skin on the top which just added to the joy. The flavouring was evident throughout but never too much.

Everything about the duck was top notch. I have indeed struggled to explain just how good it was.

I did also swap a slice of duck for a slice of beef, and can confirm that was excellent too, a hint of pepper on the edge, and very red throughout.

Ahhhh. And relax. I’ve had a very good roast dinner. If the YP and gravy had impressed, it would have been challenging for a top 3 position. Again, if I were being picky then I’d have liked a little more quantity – I was still quite hungry afterwards and ended up having a dessert. Though I guess that is a sign of a good restaurant.

The service really was excellent throughout, from greeting to goodbye, the staff earned their tip and our (cute) waitress had brows on fleek. I really hope you do not understand that last comment.

So much of the meal was enjoyable, but the duck was just a level above. The YP was the disappointment. On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it rates a Windsor.

And numbers? A nice round 8.0 out of 10.

Next weekend’s location depends on whether I have guests. I have found myself a nice little walk to do, as I fancy a walk in the countryside but only if I’m by myself.

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3 thoughts on “Duck @ The Greyhound, Finchampstead 21/02/2016

  • February 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm
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    Went to the reopened Bladebone Inn at Chapel Row Upper Bucklebury yesterday with friends. This place was always Our No 1 eaterie for Sunday lunch. I have to report that the new owners have raised the bar both in quality and quantity and you wouldn’t be disappointed with the Yorkshire pudding. You will need transport but is well worth the visit.

    Reply
  • February 22, 2016 at 8:42 pm
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    Once again an honest, balanced review with descriptors accompanied by personal tastes so we can factor in our own preferences. Thank you

    Reply

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