Rib Of Beef @ The Bull, Arborfield 07/08/2016

Hiya. I’ve just got back from the salon, and wow, my eyebrows are on fleek now. You should see how beautifully curved and feminine they are. Threading heaven.

Oh yes, I should explain. I have finally had my operation. I have had the change. I am now Lady Gravy.

That won’t be the only change. As I have suddenly realised that all these tight-fitting tops and dresses that I’ve had to buy don’t hide my manly beer belly. I fear that there will be no more roast dinners for me. I guess I will be starting a new blog – Low Calorie Salads Around Reading.

So yesterday, I put my short shorts on (still got the same ones from before the change – they kind of work, or at least will until I have finished my 100 squats a day programme and have a really cute, curvy bum), snorted a line of oestrogen powder, quickly splashed a load of fake tan on my legs…I really must shave them, and headed to The Bull, in Arborfield. Ooh maybe I could start a blog reviewing local tanning shops?

The Bull is a venue that is very much set up as a restaurant inside, and kind of reminded me of a Little Chef in structure, yet with a very pleasantly set garden and roast dinners served from lunch until well into the evening.

We had the usual choices, chicken, pork, beef and lamb, with varying prices from around £11 to £17 – give or take as I was more concerned with deciding what colour to paint my nails than what price the dinners were. I do remember that the rib of beef, which I chose, was £13.50.

By the way guys, before you start fantasising over my new body, I would just like to clarify that my sexual preferences have not at all changed. I still am only interested in lesbians.

10 minutes passed as we sat in the late afternoon sunshine, I had a few odd looks, mostly from the girls, but that is nothing new. Jealousy. Always was, always will be. I will just have to get used to it as I am the most beautiful.

The dinner arrived with a shared bowl of ordinary vegetables.

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I shall start with the ordinary, for I am most definitely not ordinary any more.

Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower which had all been steamed and were very much like my mother does them. Oh hi mum, I have boobs now. Only one piece of broccoli and cauliflower each, with too many carrots. All fine but nothing to write home about, a bit like my change which is probably going to surprise my parents as I haven’t told them either. No this is not because I am still unmarried.

Did anyone watch The Only Way Is Essex last night?

The roast potatoes were large and cumbersome, a bit like my beautiful new boobs. A little greasy on the outside and not at all crispy, but at least they were edible. A bit like my wonderful new boobs. I have had far worse. Again, a bit like my gorgeous new breasts. I only had one bite though as they have too many calories.

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By the way, that was a joke about watching The Only Way Is Essex. Just because I now paint my toenails in matching colour to my dress does not mean I watch shit TV. Fuck off. Oh, I mean, get out of here. Clearly I need a little more language training to be a proper lady. Unless of course you go to Ladies Day at Beverley racecourse (near Hull) which has anything other than ladylike behaviour. Oh damn, does this mean I cannot urinate in on the street now? I didn’t think of that.

The Yorkshire pudding was to a good standard. Large, homemade and crispy, it was very, very good. Again, I only had one bite, and licked the rest as I need to perfect my body. I’d like to be a gymnast by the next Olympics. Do you think I might qualify?

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Thankfully the Atkins diet (that is still the latest diet fad isn’t it?) meant that I could eat all the beef on the plate. And this was good quality rib-eye beef – particularly tasty, a slight hint of pink to it, two slices around 7mm thick. Easily the highlight of the plate. Ooh, maybe I should get highlights? What do you think, girls?

Finally, the gravy was ok. A hint of an attempt at a red wine gravy, and slightly more jus-like than gravy. I’ve had worse.

Overall I quite enjoyed the dinner. A pleasant afternoon with a good, if mostly unremarkable roast dinner. The beef was particularly excellent.

I shall give it a femininely-shaped 7.3 out of 10.

I actually went into the gent’s toilets too, for old time’s sake, and thought that this was a bit of an odd set-up:

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It reminded me of the toilet I went into in Berlin once, which featured two toilets sat opposite each other.  I guess it must be a thing in Germany to watch each other pee/poo.

Semana proxima, yo escribo en Español. Seriousamente. Hmmmm mujeres Españoles.

By the way, I went for double D boobs. This bra wearing thing is a bit annoying though. Maybe I will become a feminist.

Right, I need to go practice walking in my heels. What is it that Bart Simpson said? Heel, toe, heel, toe. That is right isn’t it?

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Lamb @ The Bull, Wargrave 17/01/2016

So for this week, I went to The Bull in Wargrave. A gorgeous pub with an open fire in a gorgeous village.

I can see your minds whirring. “But hasn’t he reviewed this before?”.

This week was my birthday roast dinner. Yes I am one of those poor souls that has a birthday in January (not for a few days yet but I’m in London next weekend), and is stubborn enough to insist on celebrating it. So, given that it is my birthday, I trawled my list of friends, Facebook friends, stalkers, politicians and ex-lovers, and tried to persuade a couple to come out for my birthday roast dinner.

It being my birthday means that I can break as many rules as I like, which includes going back to somewhere I’ve already reviewed. I didn’t want to risk a bad roast dinner on those still willing to associate with me. Sadly I’ve lost my crack pipe so this was about as risqué with rule-breaking that I managed.

Back to having a birthday in January and you may want to grab your violin if it is handy. Some people say that having a birthday on Christmas Day, or around then is the worst. But at least people are in the mood to celebrate and spend money they don’t have.

I think I had roughly 600 people interested in coming to my birthday roast at one point during last year. More realistically, 40-50 had verbally agreed – so many people were up for it. Come invite sending time, I’d managed to get 25 confirmed at one point. Down to 18 when I booked and paid the deposit. Down to 13 by time I woke up yesterday.

I feared the worst. The landlady called me when I was on the way to question where we were – some confusion over the booking time. I mentioned 5 had cancelled and she mentioned that is why she took her deposit. I hadn’t even arrived and it had cost me £100. Great.

Things didn’t get any better on arrival where I did that invisible bloke at the bar thing, waiting 10-15 minutes whilst those who arrived after me got served in front of me.

But that is where things stopped going wrong. Slowly but surely my guests arrived, with a handful of very funny birthday cards and a couple of gifts – including, most importantly, a proper gravy boat. Of all the things I don’t have in my life that I feel I should have – a house, a car, a wife, 2.4 children, a gun, a duck house, a castle with a moat, a modelling contract, stockings and suspenders, a criminal record, regular blow jobs – I actually didn’t have a gravy boat. Until now.

Ridiculous.

One by one, the dinners arrived – quite some time after all guests had arrived but this is always a good thing – it means freshly cooked food.

As it was my birthday, I decided against having any of the copious red cabbage that was supplied. Or wonky red cabbage as they now call it, due to some reviewer calling it so. Erm…oops.

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The carrots were polluted with peas, so again, it being my birthday I deemed it unnecessary to try to fish out the carrots from the peas, just in case. Given that I am getting increasingly desperate to find ways to describe carrots, this was probably a blessing in disguise for my readers.

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I did, however, have pretty much a full plate of cauliflower cheese.

A very large bowl was provided, with the offer of more – well, hell of course we want more! It looked as marvellous as it tasted. Freshly cooked, quite soft but not too soft, a hint of cheese and very creamy. Delicious.

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Next up for me were the roast potatoes. I only had three and they were medium-sized at a push, delicately fluffy on the inside, quite crispy on the outside but they could have been crispier. And I wish there had been more. I should emphasise again though – FRESHLY COOKED!

Last time here, the Yorkshire puddings were the only disappointment but I’m pleased to say that this time they were improved. Two medium-sized Yorkies, with a fairly standard taste and texture – yes I’ve had better elsewhere but they were on the good side of average.

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There was plenty of meat. Jayne normally serves beef and pork, sometimes lamb and can do chicken if ordered in advance. The beef looked absolutely gorgeous, culminating in some deep bloody pinkness in the middle. I was truly envious. I should have asked for all three meats with it being my birthday. Doh.

I also tried some of the pork, which was possibly the tastiest of the three, marginally.

For myself, I had the lamb – my favourite – my birthday. There was so much of it, thickly sliced, tasting of…hmmm…the cream from the cauliflower cheese. A touch fatty occasionally but nicely pink in the middle. I couldn’t really ask for more.

Finally the gravy. It was still a little thin for my personal tastes, but a decent home-made meat stock gravy nonetheless. And rather creamy tasting…because of the amount of cauliflower cheese on my plate.

On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale, it rates a Goole (please don’t even think of going there). The highlight has to be the cracking cauliflower cheese. The lowlight…I’m struggling here but an extra roast potato or two wouldn’t have gone amiss.

I enjoyed it just the tiniest fraction less than last time, and therefore I’m going to give it an 8.3 out of 10. Still absolutely very much one of the best roast dinners in the local area and all of my guests thought it was fantastic.

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Thankfully, Jayne kindly relented from charging me any of the deposit, assumedly upon seeing my beauty. The service, bar the wait at the bar at the beginning, was excellent throughout, very friendly waitresses, Jayne also took time out to introduce herself.

As I’d had a few drinks, I also introduced myself and let the mask of anonymity slip. Oops. Apparently business on a Sunday has grown significantly over the last 6 months or so.

For some reason, people actually take notice of the crap I write. So if you are a pub landlord/landlady and you haven’t been reviewed yet – get your roast potatoes sorted out quick sharp.

For the next roast, the random number generator has picked somewhere reasonably close to Bracknell, but far enough away to hopefully be a good roast dinner. Whether or not it will be next Sunday depends on how much I spend in London. Erm…and how much I drink.

By the way I am sure that you all want to give me a birthday present, but I don’t ask for much. Just use that ‘invite friends’ button on the Facebook page (it’s on the menu where the three dots are). Retweets and shares are good too – but using the invite friends button is a proper 36 candles on the cake kind of present.

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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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Pork Shoulder @ The Bull, Wargrave 26/04/2015

Pork Shoulder @ The Bull, Wargrave 26/04/2015

Wargrave was the scene of a recent failure so it was with some trepidation that I headed back to the area.  Although the random number generator has picked somewhere truly ghastly for next weekend.

According to the website, The Bull is a 15th Century former coaching inn.  I was particularly excited to read that the food was cooked by someone called Jayne.  Not that I have any particular emotion connection to the name, but it gave the suggestion that their roast dinner was home-cooked, rather than mass-produced.  And it has a good website.

The pub itself was cosy but upmarket – and for those interested it was dog-friendly.  We had a nice table reserved for us near the window, and next to the log fire.  I am particularly keen on pubs with wooden beams.

One curiosity was noticing that almost every other building in Wargrave has this flowering tree wrapped around it.  Is anyone able to illuminate upon this?

The choices were beef, pork and chicken.  I went for the shoulder of pork at the pleasing price of £13.95.  Shortly after we had placed our order, the waitress/barmaid came over to advise that a party of 22 had snuck their order in before us so there would be a bit of a wait.  We were offered some bread to keep our stomachs occupied, which was a nice touch, and the bread was gorgeous – soft and warm, albeit with exceptionally salty butter.

It didn’t actually seem that long until the dinner arrived.  I hadn’t finished my pint.  And it was a case of “wow” when the plates arrived.

I am under the impression that as much of the food is sourced locally as is possible – I’m jumping the gun here but the strawberries for dessert, assumedly grown in the polytunnels near the train station, were just sensational.  Albeit they came with a choice of ice cream, cream or custard.  Has anyone ever had strawberries and custard?

Starting with my least-favourite of red cabbage, this was the strongest tasting red cabbage I have experienced.  It was crunchy and a touch wonky, and there was far too much served to be able to eat.

Swede isn’t something I would normally consider.  We were again provided with a generous unfinishable serving, a wondrous orange colour and a delightful kind of nutty yet fruity taste.  The swede was topped with butter and chives.

Next up was cauliflower cheese, with added broccoli in the mix.  Another massive bowl, and tried as we did it was again impossible to finish. Delectably creamy, with the vegetables just soft enough, and a hint of cheese.

So far, so very, very good.

There were just 3 roast potatoes supplied, as per the Berkshire usual it seems.  However these were very large roast potatoes, soft in the inside but only minimal crisp on the outside.  Good but not perfect.

Two homemade Yorkshire puddings were supplied, fitting with the theme of ample provision, unlike last weekend’s experience.  They were just a bit too crispy for my tastes, I feel a softer bottom is required.  But they were good.

The crackling was delightful, crispy yet soft enough to eat, and even melted in the mouth a bit.

Penultimately, pork proved plentiful, plus positively pleasing.  Ooh I do like a bit of alliteration.  Again it was nicely cooked, there were 4 slices of a medium-thickness, it was tender and very nice to taste.

Last to talk about is the gravy.  There isn’t much to say, it was very thin.  But complimentary.  And befitting of the excellent service, more was forthcoming upon request.

For £13.95 this was an exceptionally generous serving.  Easily the largest plate I have been served (clearly not beating the carveries for self-chosen quantity) and the quality was good to excellent throughout.  And that it was home-made made it all the more special.

I’m struggling for downsides.  I don’t understand why pubs in nice areas like Wargrave sell shoddy pints of chemicals like Fosters.  Also the music piped over the naff 80’s speaker in the corner was rather on the miserable side.

This leaves me with a bit of a conundrum.  It isn’t as good as The Crown which I rated 8.7.  But it is better than The Packhorse which I rated 8.5.  I would ideally like to retrospectively go back and change their ratings to 8.9 and 8.3 respectively.  Am I allowed to do that?  I don’t have a rule against it.  What would you think?

I feel that 8.5 out of 10 is a fair score.  This was a really enjoyable experience in every way.  I left absolutely stuffed but not out of pocket.  There is room for improvement.  But it really was excellent.

In my opinion it is the second best roast in the local area.  I highly recommend a visit – and do book beforehand.

With next weekend being a bank holiday there is a chance I may end up partying in London instead of roast dinnering around Reading.  I can confirm that the random number generator has picked somewhere for my next roast that I am really not at all looking forward to.  The ultimate antithesis of home cooking.

Maybe I will be surprised.

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