Lamb @ The Catherine Wheel, Goring, 05/06/2016

Finally I am someone again.

Yes not since the giddy Get Reading days have I had some public abuse, but finally someone has recognised my talents and called me a clown.

What I suspect though, is that she actually really enjoys this blog, and is just getting into the spirit of things. Either that or she runs a pub that does crap roast dinners.

Speaking of being someone, this week I headed out to The Catherine Wheel in Goring, a rather well-to-do village west of Reading – a very pleasant area of the country. One of the 10 places on my must-review bucket list, it was recommended to me by my secret 4th housemate in my previous house that never paid any rent but did take the bin out once. Jolly nice chap though.

A table was booked for 3pm, I even had an attractive young lady coming – though, alas, story of my life…I was stood up again.

The pub itself featured low ceilings and wooden beams. It took a good 10-15 minutes to get someone’s attention at the bar, not because they were slovenly but because they were really rather busy. A good sign.

I was shown to my table and advised to come to the bar when I had decided what I wanted. I asked if I could order straight away, which caused some confusion. But yes, I was allowed to order straight away rather than sit down, pretend to look at a menu and then walk back to order, risking losing my seat in the sunshine. You’ve put the menu on your website for a reason.

Beef, pork and lamb were the options, though they did have a vegetarian option – don’t ask me what! I paid £14.95 for the lamb, I think. There was also the possibility of having a roast dinner sandwich – if only I didn’t need to lose weight, I could have had that for starter.

One day I’m actually going to have designate pie day. I’ll have pork pie for lunch, a proper pie for dinner and apple pie for dessert. But I’m not sure what to do for breakfast – any ideas? Must be a pie.

There was around a 30 minute wait for the food, which normally I don’t mind, but I was more hungry than I was horny, and I’m going through a horny phase at the moment. But the rule is, the longer the wait, the better the roast.

One other thing to note, the charming and very nicely dressed lady that I assumed was the landlady, was polishing the cleaned glasses properly. Attention to detail. I approve.

So I was sat, very happily, in the sunshine when my roast arrived. It looked good. I didn’t even have to ask for more gravy.

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I started with what appeared to be mashed swede. It had a rather light orange colour, for swede, tasted rather buttery and on the sweet side. I have never enjoyed swede as much as I enjoyed this.

Onto the mange tout – one of my favourite vegetables and not something ever supplied with a bad roast dinner. Sadly they were a tiny bit undercooked for my preferences, being rather squeaky and crunchy – but horses for courses.

On the other hand, the cauliflower cheese was exceptional. Really creamy and really cheesy – plenty of it too. Truly delicious.

But swinging back the other way a tad like in the gay club in Ibiza, the roast potatoes were not very roasted. Whilst they were soft in the middle, there was no evidence on them having been roasted. Good potatoes – but not good roast potatoes.

Also roasted were a couple of parsnips. Not quite as sweet or nutty as normal, maybe it was the oil that they had been roasted in.

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A homemade Yorkshire pudding was included, marginally sponge-like in texture, close to a medium size.

Two large slices of lamb were included, assumedly leg of lamb, one quite thick at 6mm, the other half the thickness. Medium-cooked, with cracked pepper on the top, this was very good and rather succulent lamb.

Finally, the gravy. It seemed to have a hint of mint and red wine in it, which may just have been my hangover from 2 bottles of wine confusing my basic northern taste buds – it was a nice gravy, a thick one too, though it did become a little tiresome towards the end.

Overall it was a very good roast dinner, at a very nice pub with very nice weather.

Nobody came to collect my plate or offer me dessert – I could have been tempted. I stayed for a second drink which is quite unusual for when I’m on my own. I blame the sunshine.

My highlight was the exquisite cauliflower cheese – the lowlight, surprise surprise, the unroasted potatoes. On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale, it rates a Nether Heyford. Scores on the doors – 7.7 out of 10.

Next Sunday I think I’m going to go somewhere in the town centre. Yes, Reading town center. Actual Reading. Somewhere also on my bucket list, though somehow I still have 10 places on it.

And hopefully start clowning around again – this was a pretty boring review wasn’t it? Here’s a photo of my rail replacement bus to brighten things up.

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