Pork Belly @ The Newbury, Newbury 10/01/2016

“It’s not you it’s me”.

Those immortal words. Yes, I’ve been dumped. GetReading no longer want to publish my roast dinner reviews on a weekly basis. They still love me, they still think I’m funny but they only want to see me when I’m feeling the love, on a monthly basis at most. Happy New Year.

I think there is more to it than that though. No I don’t think they are replacing me with a higher quality model, like Edible Reading.

I suspect the work of the mafia. My suspicion is that one of the places that got a bad review in November/December, and there were a few, have placed influencing pressure on them. I do sincerely hope that no physical violence or torture was involved.

You might want to be careful reading my blog from now on. They are likely watching you. Only the foolhardy or brave would consider sharing this page now.

Thankfully my anonymity is assured, although I am going to take further precautions, for example when booking my table I will only use the names Ahmed or Josephine, depending on whether I remembered to slip my bulk growth testosterone powder into my vat of gravy the night before.

I have also bought a potato masher as protection.

Originally I had picked a place in Swallowfield, but I realised that it would take 2.5 hours to get there. Why are there just two buses in the morning from Reading town centre to Swallowfield, then none for about 6 hours, then another two? Bizarre.

So I chose again, checked that the train times worked for me, and got the train to Newbury, to go to The Newbury, in Newbury, getting off at Newbury Station.

The online menu offered beef, pork belly and a chicken to be shared between two. It also suggested that the pork belly was just £5.50. Bargain. However the offline menu had it priced at £17.50. So that with my beer and the train ticket to Newbury was over £32. Not quite a bargain. The same price as my new inconspicuous cow-print trainers. Uber-bargain.

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I wasn’t especially in the moo-d prior to leaving, but I did quite enjoy my little adventure to Newbury. They had a massive Wilko, and also a very quiet Poundland. Do people in Newbury not have the same affection for Poundland as in Reading?

But would I enjoy the food? That sentence just doesn’t work there.

It didn’t take long to arrive, somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, which tends not to be the best sign. On the main plate came the real food, the stuff you are interested in – on a side bowl were the vegetables, slightly crammed together.

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Thankfully I hadn’t had red cabbage for a while, as I find it is something that should only be endured occasionally. This was slightly more enjoyment than endurance, with a powerful fruity flavour and a slight tang, this was about as enjoyable as red cabbage can be.

There was a good handful of baby carrots in the mix, very soft and could easily have been mashed with my brand new Wilko potato masher. Living the life.

Finally in the way of vegetables, there was swede. Mashed, and not too far away from puree form, it was impossible to distinguish a flavour with the strands of red cabbage that had percolated their way into the swede. The texture was good. And that is important to a northerner. Fuck the taste.

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Getting onto the section that you might vaguely be interested in and the roast potatoes were roasted. Perfectly fluffy on the inside, sadly not quite crispy on the outside but there was a hint of crisp. They also tasted of duck fat though that’s normally something that is advertised as a matter of pride so maybe I’m imagining that. Certainly good roast potatoes.

The Yorkshire pudding was a let-down. Fairly small in circumference, it had risen well but was dry and chewy, not really enjoyable. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good one.

You are still wondering why I’ve bought a potato masher instead of a knife for protection from the mafia, aren’t you? Think about it.

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The long chunk of pork belly was close to excellent. A very healthy portion size, and one to counter-balance all my recent salads with soft and juicy, yet still crispy, crackling, on the top, and a crunchier crackling on the bottom, albeit with a small piece of boning.

Within the two slices of crackling came some very tender pork, which could easily have ended up pulled pork, with a slight layer of gorgeous fat. One of the ends was slightly on the dry side, but this is being picky. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

And the gravy? Apparently it is natural gravy, whatever that means. It was by far one of the best gravies that I’ve had on my travels, it tasted as though it had been made with the juices from the pork belly, the consistency was perfectly thick for your average Newburyite – there was only a dribble on the plate but a cute little jug was quickly provided to me by the staff, who were keen to ensure that I had everything I wanted – professional service.

The highlight was indeed the excellent gravy, very closely followed by the pork belly. There was only one lowlight – yep, the YP. Again. The dinner rates a Bromsgrove on the Yorkshire-Surrey scale.

A very good roast dinner. Not often I say that. Whether it was worth the £32 or so that I spent on the adventure, I am not convinced. I could have spent that money more wisely. But I enjoyed my day out enough to ensure that there will be another review next week.

I’m going to give it an 8.0 out of 10.

May I finish by thanking the train companies for actually running their generous hourly services between Reading and Newbury, along with Reading and Bracknell, especially on the way back.

Next week I’m going for a really good roast dinner, and I will have one or two friends with me for a change. I do actually have some friends…until they get spooked by the mafia.

Be safe – don’t tell anyone you don’t know that you are reading this. The mafia did not make me give this establishment a good review.

By the way, what has happened to Edible Reading? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Ohhhhh I sound a little bit like Iain Duncan Smith there. This blogging business is a dangerous game.

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