Chicken @ The Butler, Reading 26/06/2016

You know this roast dinner strike thing?

Well, I’ve been speaking to Mrs T. She isn’t too happy with me. She isn’t even speaking to me. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of drinks that have fallen off my Margaret Thatcher coasters over the last week.

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We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to gravy.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I am back off roast dinner review strike. If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman; if you want a roast dinner reviewed, ask a 60-year old pot-bellied transsexual virgin crystal-meth addict.

Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth. And I didn’t have many of them so I looked for somewhere with a less-expensive roast, and decided upon The Butler in Reading. Each £9.50.

An over-looked pub on Chatham Street, so overlooked that I hadn’t ever been in 18 years of living here. Slightly dishevelled but welcoming, televisions in the corners so I could watch the football, with a variety of seating – including some rather psychedelic sofas near the back.

It was very quiet so I had a large choice of tables. Possibly not a good sign but I ploughed on and ordered the chicken. I was impressed that each had a different form of gravy – I was nearly tempted by the beef (cooked rare) but it came with an “& red wine gravy” – and I have bad memories of red wine gravy, not to mention the off-putting misplaced ampersand.

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Is that blurry or am I still fucked from the weekend?

They all sounded appealing so I sat down for 5 minutes whilst a fairly packed plate was microwaved.

I started with the cabbage which I didn’t finish. White and tasteless, this was the most pointless item for many a month.

The batons of carrots were fairly average, a little roughly cut, slightly on the soft side.

Speaking of soft – the broccoli had been long over-blanched, very soft and soggy, to the point of losing its colour. Any woman who understands the problems of cooking broccoli will be nearer to understanding the problems of making a roast dinner.

Not exactly anything over-enamouring so far but this changed with the cauliflower cheese which was rather wow. The strength of the cheese, with perhaps a hint of paprika gave it a kick – really, very impressive. If only I had had a whole bowl of it. You could do business with this cauliflower cheese.

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The new potatoes were fairly standard – four or five earthy morsels with enough bite.

Also standard were the roast potatoes – three, of course, standard, and sadly the standard roasted-earlier microwave standard. They were a touch chewy and bouncy inside. I’ve had far worse, but they were not massively appealing, after all, if you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to make fresh roast potatoes, and you would achieve nothing but good roast dinners.

There was a ball of stuffing – possibly homemade, after all the roast dinner had an endearingly homemade touch to it. Sadly it didn’t have much flavour to it – it seemed to have no herbs, perhaps more sausagemeat – possibly some nuts and onion, also a touch on the dry side.

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Some places (mentioning no names, Nando’s) offer out the most pathetic excuses for a half chicken that you could imagine. The Butler does not. This was a full-sized half a chicken. I’m assuming that it was cooked in the white wine that the gravy was made out of, as the chicken seemed oddly pale at first look.

It was a succulent chicken and I did struggle to finish it. The white wine flavouring didn’t come out overly strongly, but it certainly gets good marks.

There is no such thing as society: there are individual Yorkshire puddings, and there are families. The Yorkshire pudding was homemade and a good effort. Well-risen, quite soft on the bottom.

Being powerful is like eating gravy. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t. Well, it was special – not often you see an establishment make the effort so that their gravy stands out. This was filled with herbs, mostly parsley, and an unusual light cream in colour. I wouldn’t say that I loved it – the flavour wasn’t overly strong, it was thicker than water but being a northerner, I’d prefer it thicker. But I do very much appreciate the effort and inventiveness.

Overall it was a really mixed bag. Some parts excellent, more inventiveness than normal – but also some parts very average. The highlight was the wowtastic cauliflower cheese – the pointless cabbage the lowlight.

I’m going to give it a nice, round 7.0 out of 10. Or am I? Maybe a 6. Or a 5. To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning. It definitely gets a 7.0.

Iron out the imperfections and this could be a slightly unexpected go-to place for roast dinners in the centre of Reading. We are not exactly blessed with roast dinner venues in the town centre so I would certainly recommend giving this a try.

Next weekend I’m in Hull for a family wedding despite trying my hardest to offend the groom by repeatedly stating that all firemen are lazy, overpaid striking scumbags. I might be back in time but don’t count on it. The weekend after I’m going clubbing and considering I went clubbing this weekend and had a grand total of two bacon sandwiches in 48 hours, I’m sure that you can imagine that there is zero chance of me eating a roast dinner. The weekend after I might be away too!

So you might have to wait 4 weeks for your next review. But I’ll try to do something for you, otherwise you’ll have to be patient – I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end. Gosh I might even do a feature. Well, it’s better than nothing?

Unless the 25 powerful Margaret Thatcher quotes website that happened to be a porn site that I clicked on at work this morning gets me the sack, in which case goodbye forever. Ooops.

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