Gammon @ The Fox & Hounds, Caversham 08/11/2015

Getting a good roast dinner in or around the town centre of Reading is pretty difficult. Malmaison scored a 7.4 and Cau an 8.1. Most others have been distinctly average, or sometimes bad. And then there was the Wetherspoons in a category of its own.

Which is why I started this blog in the first place – the amount of times I have seen people ask the question “Where can I get a decent roast in Reading?” over the years just begged someone to answer the question.

I’d long over-looked the Fox & Hounds. I’d assumed that I had never been there, though when I walked into the doors, I realised that I had memories of some east Asian people selling me copied DVDs that they’d downloaded from Kazaa, whilst it snowed, in March/April. Anyone still use Kazaa?

Fast forward, ooooh, 12 or so years and I was back to eat a roast dinner.

I’ve wanted to go here for some time but I work on instruction, either by friends or the random number generator (which could perhaps be classed as my best friend) – but finally a friend wanted to go here so I walked over the shiny new bridge and set foot in the Fox & Hounds.

By the way, I like the rusty metal look.

The Fox & Hounds is a pub pub. It has a good selection of ales, is decorated with a vast array of beer mats and is split into two rooms – one was quite busy, the other with a pool table totally empty. The two ladies working behind the bar were friendly – and somewhat ebullient about the roast when I called earlier in the day to check they were doing roasts.

Two choices on offer – beef and gammon. And nut roast for vegetarians. And keenly priced at £10.00.

So I chose gammon as it was the first time that I had had the opportunity to do so since, oooh the Shoulder of Mutton controversy.

After around 15 minutes the home-made roast dinner turned up – packed with differing types of vegetables and a full plate.

The carrots were carrots. And they were orange. Did you know they used to be purple? I wonder if J.K. Tolkein could find 44 different ways to describe Harry Potter’s carrots?

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Moving on. I really enjoyed the curly kale, it hadn’t been cooked too much yet was still slightly on the soft side of average, as the carrots were. I’m not sure I’ve ever had it before, I thought they were spring greens until my friend corrected me. I guess the closest taste I can think of is spinach. I really did enjoy it – especially with the gravy which complimented the curly kale superbly.

The red cabbage didn’t quite have the same fruitiness to it as last week’s review had, though that was an exceptionally good roast. I’m not a fan of red cabbage and this was just kind of there. I was very indifferent to it.

At least there wasn’t too much of it – which cannot be said for the roast potatoes. I constantly complain about just getting 3 roast potatoes but 5 roast potatoes were too many as there were a bit of a chore to eat – they had been roasted at some point, but sadly had become rather rubbery and were quite dry inside.

I’ve had far worse but…yeah…

Controversially I’m now skipping back to the vegetables for the cauliflower and broccoli cheese which I’m pleased to say was good, the vegetables themselves were tender, creamy and tasted of…cheese! Yes a cauliflower cheese with cheese. How rare. And with broccoli too. Not quite up to the standard of The Crown in Playhatch (oooh remember what happened last time I compared somewhere to there….eeek) but it was pleasing for my tastebuds.

The Yorkshire pudding was quite crispy on the outside, but more in a shell kind of way. It wasn’t the best effort – perhaps it was cooked in vegetable oil. Something wasn’t quite right about it.

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I’m not sure gammon roasts are for me. It is good to mix it up, and this was cooked in cider so had a slight edge to it but it wasn’t as succulent as gammon can be, I feel that it was cooked too long, at least for my preferences.  And it was salty.  I know gammon is salty but this was very salty.

I did try the beef that my friend had and that was really good. Tender and nicely pink in the middle (on request)…it would easily have had another half a point on the end score had I not wanted to mix things up and go for gammon. Going for, going for…gammon. I’m pretty sure there used to be TV show with that name.

The gravy was tasty. An onion-influenced gravy, I thought I could taste a hint of red wine too. Enough in the way of consistency, though never as thick as 99.9% of northerners like it, and thicker than 99.9% of southerners like it (ie water).

So it was a bit of a mixed bunch.

Ooooh we had a stuffing ball too.  I cannot remember the last time I was served stuffing – it did add some extra contrast to the gammon, though the balls could have done turning during cooking – mine was dark well-cooked on top and not so on the bottom.

It’s the kind of place that if I lived in Caversham I could make my local. It has a far better feel than the vastly over-rated Griffin down the road, not to mention a better roast dinner. It feels like a pub that has been lifted out of mediocrity and is the kind of place that I passionately believe should be supported.

We had good service – the option was there for us to have beef and gammon.  And at £10.00 it is definitely one of the lower priced roasts so it was pretty good value for money.

I’m giving it a 6.6 out of 10. I’d love to give it a higher score but it is what it is. As I said earlier, it would have been higher if I had had the beef.

 

Favourite part – curly kale.  Worst part – roast potatoes.  On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it rates a Grantham.  I assume you know what the Yorkshire-Surrey scale is?  Granted I may have just made this up.  I’ll leave it for you to work out until next week.  Or maybe I’ll just tell you at Christmas.  Call it your Christmas present from me.

Next week I’m not sure where I’m going. I know I am going for a roast with my best friend, but whether my best friend chooses where we go or my best friend chooses where we go, I do not know.

I guess I’ll have to toss a coin.

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