I eventually woke up on Sunday, still with a monstrous hangover from Friday night, a fair chunk of a cold but even worse than any of that – a missing earphone to block out the noise of Bracknell.
I set myself just one goal for the day and that was to get a roast dinner and go back to bed.
Fortunately the choice of venue was the Dog & Duck in Wokingham, chosen by Mymatedave TM. I do believe that it is important to mix with as wide a variety of society as possible, and everyone should definitely have a mate called Dave. He was pretty much the first person that I met in Reading back in 1998 and a love of pies, beer and of course, roast dinners has helped keep the bonds of friendship 17 years later.
On the way I was wondering whether John Redwood frequented this establishment (for some reason I always want to call him Sir John Redwood), but upon arrival I found that it was not in the most salubrious area of Wokingham – in fact it looked like your typical chav-hole, albeit with some redeeming features on the front of the pub (ignoring the BT sports sticker).
As a venue it did seem a bit confused – I couldn’t tell initially what it was trying to be, but I eventually settled on it having been a chav-hole a while ago, and now possibly under new management, who were trying to take it a little more upmarket.
The clues as to it potentially being under new management continued – as I’m pretty sure I overheard the landlady say that it was the first week that they were doing roast dinners. Had I realised this in advance, then I would have gone elsewhere. One of the many things that I have learnt from the illustrious Edible Reading, is that you should give new places a chance to bed in before you judge them.
However, I wasn’t going to up sticks and find somewhere else to go, so you’ll just have to bear in mind that (assuming I overheard correctly), this was their first roast dinner serving.
I’m really not feeling this review. I’m kind of tempted to delete the whole lot and start again. It doesn’t really flow, does it? Do you think John Redwood reads my reviews? Is there anyone more famous than John Redwood in Wokingham?
There were three vegetables on the plate – the tenderstem broccoli was plentiful, and had plenty of bite to it too. All of the vegetables seem to have been steam-cooked.
The carrots came whole and with their skin on (the best way). They were slightly larger than baby carrots – although they did seem somewhat undercooked in the middle which is a theme that we will return to.
There were also parsnips, again they seemed to have been steamed and surely parsnips should be roasted? Too bright a light yellow colour, and a little under-cooked too.
I would just like to add that I absolutely love immigrants.
A few minutes into the meal the cauliflower cheese arrived, that I would have totally forgotten about otherwise. It was really creamy – really, really creamy, with quite a bite to it again, and also a sprinkling of fresh parsley. It could have done with just a few minutes in the oven to crispen the top of the cauliflower – it kind of seemed more like the cream was added to the cauliflower afterwards rather than cooked with it.
There were three roast potatoes (back to the Berkshire standard), all slightly oily on the outside – soft enough on the inside but next to no roasty crispiness on the outside. I was at an advantage having a roast dinner at midday so they wouldn’t have been stood around all day and were freshly cooked. But they could have done with a good 10 minutes more roasting.
The chicken was…a little, erm undercooked. Well, the drumstick was anyway, it even had a couple of spots of blood near the bone which I completely avoided (see mum, I do listen to you occasionally). I like my meat pink and I’m not obsessive about avoiding pink chicken like my mother is, but the drumstick could have done with quite a few minutes more in the oven – I wouldn’t have served it to myself.
No such complaints with the important part of the chicken though, the breast, and there was plenty to eat too. There was a good half a chicken (not a Nando’s half, an actual half) and it came complete with skin. Hmmmm chicken skin.
I really liked the stuffing ball. 3 weeks in a row I’ve had stuffing – it must be Christmas? No complaints on the undercooking, it was a herby delight with a crust to the edges.
The Yorkshire SpongeBob wasn’t so impressive. How the hell do you turn a Yorkshire pudding into a sponge? I’ve made some Yorkshire puddings in the past that closely resembled pancakes but I really do not understand how they can turn into a sponge ball? How can they go that wrong? Edible but not much else.
A decent effort on the gravy. A fair consistency, it seemed to have a hint of chicken stock but it did linger for some time on the tongue. Perhaps a touch too much salt.
The overall theme was clearly that it needed a little more cooking. It was well presented (as if that matters) and reasonably tasty but didn’t jump off the plate and make me want to eat there again.
As I mentioned earlier, it is perhaps unfair to review somewhere if it is their first week doing roasts, so maybe there is much more to come. They were using tenderstem broccoli which is a promising sign – many places will only give you bog-standard broccoli. Plus there were occasional hints of herbs. Hopefully someone will go in a few weeks and tell me how good it has become.
I’m going to give it a 6.6 out of 10. Slap bang in the middle of averageness – as I mentioned, I suspect there is more to come from this pub once they are properly up and running. Service was good throughout – the wrong beer was initially brought out, we hadn’t realised but they did and came and replaced it. They were keen to ensure we enjoyed our meal, whether we needed anything extra (gravy, of course) and I do wish them all the best on their new venture.
The highlight was probably the stuffing ball, the lowlight was definitely the sponge. On the Yorkshire-Surrey scale it rates a Nuneaton.
Well my review is written and I’m still not happy with it. It is as if I had never written a review before. It seems very undercooked? Does John Redwood go out for roast dinners?
Next weekend I’m up in Hull to see my grandma but I’ll be back in time to grab a roast somewhere. Forgive me if I decide to go somewhere in Bracknell or on the Waterloo train line.