I do feel that this has become a little more like Roast Dinners Around Bracknell recently. Whilst I have had the good sense not to eat in Bracknell (I’m saving those for when I have a huge hangover), there do seem to have been quite a few places closer to Bracknell than Reading.
This is not an attempt to fix that. I think you will forgive me for this one, I was travelling back from the City Of Culture 2017, so after 4 hours of cars, trains and tubes, I was going somewhere on the London Waterloo to Bracknell line.
Of course, when I arrived at Vauxhall, I found out that all trains were stopping at Ascot and there was a rail replacement service to Bracknell. Oh the joys. So to minimise the pain, I decided to find somewhere in Ascot – somewhere more famed for coked-up tossers and horses, than decent pubs. I am not suggesting the horses are on drugs, just the post-chavs that go to Ascot races. I am sure that all aspects of horse racing are 100% legitimate, especially the betting. There is absolutely no fixing whatsoever.
The easy choice would have been to go to the Station Inn, right next to the train station and completely missing from the interweb. Sadly their kitchen was having a deep clean. So I dragged my Ryanair-approved suitcase to the high street and ended up in The Stag. Which is where I ended up last time I was in Ascot…after going to Ascot races.
The Stag is a fairly featureless, modern pub. Clean with sturdy furniture, a smallish bar area with extended seating area at the back. Really quite bland – just like the whole of Ascot High Street.
Two choices were on offer – chicken or beef, for £10.45. And considering that I had chicken last week, I could only choose the beef.
It took about 10 minutes to arrive and I wasn’t overfilled with joy. I do often get comments on Get Reading that the roast dinner looks awful – that is more down to my lack of photography skills normally. But even a professional photographer would have struggled with this.
There were three vegetables provided. The broccoli was almost upon the point of being mushy broccoli for it was so soft. The carrots were just mass-produced batons. Both I assume were boiled – there was so much water leaking out of them that it totally discoloured the gravy in that area of the plate. On one side I had brown gravy, the other side near-clear gravy.
The kale was edgy. It felt like it was punishing me for something. There was little enjoyment to it, just sharp gravel-like leaves – quite the opposite to the delightful curly kale at The Fox & Hounds the other week.
I suspect that I end up with deep fried roast potatoes more than I realise, but these were category A deep fried. A fresh coating of oil, fluffy both inside and out. Bizarrely, I didn’t despise them as much as I should do. But they did seem like they were right out of a freezer bag.
Initially I had no hope for the beef. It looked limp and well-done, but it was actually quite rare on the inside. Sadly, my initial suspicion was correct and the whole meaty experience was very chewy and not slightly enjoyable. It certainly was not the highest-end cut of beef that I have ever experienced.
And then the Yorkshire pudding. I can sympathise when a YP goes into pancake format, but this went into pancake-sponge format. It almost seemed like a larger than usual Aunt Bessie that hadn’t been given long enough to rise. It was vaguely edible. Vaguely.
Oooooh I was promised parsnips upon ordering but, sigh, they were invisible parsnips.
By the way, my grandma says hello. She used to make an amazingly tasty gravy when I were young. She has actually been reading this – or more accurately has been shown this, given that she still refuses to use a cash machine, let alone a computing device. She thinks I write a load of rubbish.
My grandma would have been ashamed by the lumpy effort but at least I got a beef-stock gravy. It could have been worse – just imagine how bad the meal was if I had been offered jus. It wasn’t good but at least it was gravy. Sigh.
I think that is called “taking one for the team”. We are a team, aren’t we?
Nothing was entirely dreadful about the roast dinner, but absolutely nothing was enjoyable either. It was punishment along the lines of being beaten by Leeds United and then the train home being rammed full of hoodlums and taking an extra hour to get back. As much as I may complain about South West Trains – Northern Rail are much, much worse.
I can only give the roast a 3.0 out of 10. I guess it simply is not possible to get a decent roast dinner in the centre of Ascot. Am I wrong?
The lowlight was probably the abysmal attempt at a Yorkshire pudding, the highlight was the deep fried roast potatoes. Yes, it was that bad. I’m going to give it a Tamworth on the Yorkshire-Surrey scale. I once dated a girl from Tamworth. She ended up being a stalker.
Next Sunday I will try my hardest to go either south, west or north of Reading. Booyakasha.