Beef Rib-Eye @ The Spring Inn, Sulhamstead 10/05/2015

I was getting my hair cut the other morning, and my new hairdresser told me that he is aware of my work.  Word is getting around.

Word is going to spread even more soon as Get Reading have discovered my eloquent writing talents/are desperate for content (delete as appropriate) and are keen on publishing shortened versions of my reviews, assumedly without any descriptions of vegetables tasting like arse.

I did think about it for an evening, but it is a no-brainer really.  Nothing will change except more people will read it.  They did ask whether I wanted to publish in my own name, or stay relatively anonymous, and I think I am going to go for the second option.  Your thoughts are welcomed.  The only reason to go fully public would be to make it easy for a future book publisher/film company to employ me to review roast dinners around the world.

How cool would that be?  To go around the world and get paid to eat roast dinners.  Gravy Oliver eat your heart out.

For now, I shall have to contend with local fame, remaining relatively anonymous.  I am considering the pen name of The Earl Of Gravy.

For a second week in a row, I have usurped the random number generator by using the random number generator.  The place of doom can wait – Get Reading deserve a special treat for their first review.

This week, I headed to The Spring Inn, in Sulhamstead (west of Theale).  I wasn’t sure what I would get.  The menu clearly advertised jus, and you know what I think when I get that abomination.  However when I called to book that morning, the earliest they could get a table for me was 4pm, so clearly they are very popular.

I had two options to travel – either get the number 1 bus straight down the A4, or get a train and a 30-40 minute walk.  I like a walk but decided the bus was probably the easier option given all the housework I had to do yesterday.  My life isn’t all gravy, you know.  I thought it might be more pricey than the standard £3.70 return within Reading but there was no information to get on the rather cluttered Reading Buses website.

Anyway, I was rather shocked by the £6.40 charge when I boarded – I only had 40p more change on me, and that was after emptying my silver jar.  Reading Buses, please accept my Soggy Roast Potato In Jus award for your opaque pricing structure and cluttered website.  Twice the price of the train.  Get out of here.

So 419 words later, I guess it is time to get talking about the food.  Get it?

The offering was rib-eye of beef at £13.95, or pork something at £12.95.  Quite reasonably priced.

The food took 11 minutes to get from the kitchen, which always seems on the speedy side to me.

Starting, as is traditional, with the vegetables, and the carrots in particular, which were orange.  Forgive me, I really am struggling to find new ways to describe carrots.  And new placed to sneak in the word “get”.  There were a small sprinkling, and fairly soft and juicy, with a hint of honey which they had been ‘roasted’ in.  They certainly were not roasted like I roast carrots though.

We also had parsnip, which is a nice touch as it seems rarely attempted.  Again fairly soft with the hint of honey.

Then there was cabbage.  Cabbage isn’t something I have worked out how to cook well myself – I can do amazing carrots, but cabbage I fail on.  This was pretty nice and tender, with more of a hint of butter to my simple Northern taste buds.

Only now have I realised that I could have got some very interesting side orders, including chilli tender stem broccoli; French beans, shallots and crème fraiche (I really want to write fresh) and the not so interesting cauliflower cheese.  Doh.

For some bizarre reason, the roast potatoes came out afterwards in a large bowl of freshly-heated roast potatoes.  Was this to excite me as to just how many there was?  Could I have more than the standard Berkshire 3?  Am I the only one that expects 6 roast potatoes on a roast dinner?

Of course, there were just 3 roast potatoes plonked down, soggy, non-crispy and very much like what you would get at the Toby Carvery.  Hmmm.

My talented chef friend, who is a plumber, surprised me once by advising that he thought Yorkshire puddings were a waste of time.  Just needless filler instead of real food.  Well, this one small effort was just filler – quite tough sponge and totally pointless.  Unlike a good yorkie.

I think I chose the beef because it came with a Yorkshire pudding.  Despite the previously described aberration, the ribeye of beef was a good choice.

I asked for it rare, and it definitely was not rare.  Somewhere between medium-rare and medium.  Which is still fine to me.  It was exceptionally generous in volume, with two very large slices of good quality beef – more than twice the amount that I had at the far more expensive Miller of Mansfield.  There was a little fat but that just adds to the taste in my eyes.  And mouth.

By some measure the highlight of the whole dinner.

On the flipside, by far the lowlight of the whole dinner was the jus.  To me, there is no excuse at attempting some shoddy red wine jus.  It had a particularly horrid taste, which disfigured all that was eaten, as I just could not get the taste out of my mouth.  I wanted gravy so I kept putting jus on, thinking it would be ok, but bite after bite I was just getting disappointed.

It wasn’t disgusting, it was edible.  But just plain wrong.  I hardly even touched the extra jus I had ordered (and received at the second time of asking).  I don’t even know why I asked it.

Apart from the excellent beef, the dinner was pretty average but the jus was so disappointing.

A 5.5 out of 10 seems a reasonable score.

It is a popular venue with an interesting menu , yet in the middle of nowhere, so it must be doing something right.

Next week, ooooh 3rd time unlucky perhaps?  Do ya get meh?

By the way if anyone needs a really old monitor, there is one in the hedgerow on the bus stop 5 minutes or so walk from The Spring Inn.

There wasn’t much else to photograph.

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