Pork @ The Cross Keys, Pangbourne 03/01/2016

Happy New Year and all that jazz. Do you have any resolutions? Perhaps you are going to eat more gravy? Perhaps you are one of the pubs I have reviewed and are going to start making decent roast potatoes that are roasted and fresh? Perhaps your resolution is to share each of my reviews to all of your friends, invite your friends to follow the Facebook page and retweet every review?

Or maybe you have resolved to ignore all these crap reviews and spend your time doing something more useful like cross-stitching?

I have two resolutions relating to Roast Dinners Around Reading.

One is to try to monetise the blog. I can hear you screaming about gentrification and the slow creeping commercialisation of everything you hold dear…but you can always use Adblock. I doubt it will get past Google Adword’s obscenity filter anyway so if you want to advertise send me a message.

Secondly, assuming I am certain to be going for a roast, I will endeavour to try to find someone to join me. It is a lonely world walking in the rain with a hangover to a different part of Berkshire to sit there, eat dinner and go back to my glorified council estate shithole of a house again. I can hear your violins.

They are hurting my ears.

This was another post-hangover Sunday, my creaky body was not going to permit too tough a mission but at the 3rd attempt, the random number generator chose somewhere within reasonable travelling distance, surprisingly so, which was The Cross Keys in Pangbourne.

I’d had a disappointing roast before in Pangbourne at the highly over-rated, The Swan – all presentation with only some performance, and as I walked past the Aston Martin garage, and the Bentley garage, and then the Lamborghini garage, all the time defending to myself as to why I really do much prefer catching a Thames Slug, I cannot say my expectations were too high.

As I opened the door to the Cross Keys, I felt a warmth, immediately encapsulated by the low ceilings and the busy bar. The restaurant itself was quiet – the portion that I was sat in was totally empty, which suited me fine seeing as I was all alone, awwwww. The only options available were beef and pork. For some reason I didn’t fancy beef, so for the reasonable price of £11.95, I pigged out on pork. Yeah the jokes aren’t going to get any better this year.

The dinner didn’t take too long to arrive, and it was pleasingly presented, vegetables on a fairly small side bowl, the pork covering the roast potatoes and a little Yorkie to the side. In a mother’s roast dinner kind of style.

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I started, as you’d expect, with the circularly sliced carrots – ordinary carrots with a hint of butter. There were also a few small florets of broccoli – nothing to distinguish it from any other ordinary broccoli.

The shredded cabbage was rather on the yellow side, it was tastier than you’d expect, again a hint of butter, and perhaps of pepper too. I did rather enjoy it. Enjoyable cabbage. It’s almost like one of those impossibly good New Labour slogans.

Then there were a whole 4 roast potatoes – roasted! Two smaller, and two larger potatoes, the smaller ones looked particularly crispy. I was suitably impressed.

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Sadly, they didn’t quite match up to appearances, and were not actually that crispy – the larger ones were a tad chewy too. But considering the consistent turgidity that many places spew out, these were above-average and should be credited as such. If only I had arrived at midday! There was a little bonus in that there was some pepper that has been cracked over them during the cooking.

There were several fairly thickly sliced slices of pork loin. Whilst unspectacular in taste, it was both tender and plentiful.

I’ve not really complained about much, have I? They Yorkshire pudding was ok. A small width, but it had risen well. Sadly a little too crispy and dry but not bad.

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I realised yesterday that someone had posted a question on my page as to where the best crackling in town can be found. The Crown in Playhatch did have a bowl of small pieces of very tasty crackling but I think I may have found the answer. Two fair-sized slices of crackling accompanied the pork, both super-salty, both super-succulent. And edible! Very edible. I could easily have had a plate of crackling.

And the gravy? I had ordered a bowl of extra gravy as per assumption but I didn’t need any of it as it came with plenty. A standard Bisto-ish gravy – unspectacular in taste, relatively thick for southern standards.

All in all, a pleasing start to a roasting year.

The highlight was the crackling – the lowlight was probably just the YP. And on the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it rates a Stoke-On-Trent.

I’m going to give it a 7.3 out of 10. Which is only marginally higher than I rated The Swan, despite not looking back on it too favourably.

Next up, depending on motivation is somewhere south of Reading. A hidden gem in the countryside, apparently.

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