“ Address: 1 Forbury Square / Reading / RG1 3BB / Tel: 0118 957 4044 „
I booked this restaurant through Toptable for my partner's birthday meal. I booked the £26 deal - three courses and a glass of champagne. On arrival the restaurant was fairly quiet but we were still early in the evening (around 7.15pm). We were greeted with a smile by the staff and asked if we would like to go straight to the table or have a drink at the bar first, I mentioned to my partner that as it was his birthday he should chose. He chose a drink at the bar first and as we were directed to the bar area the lady who had greeted us wished him a happy birthday, which was very friendly. We decided to have our glass of champagne and this was served to us promptly and we were left with menus to look at.
A waiter returned after an appropriate length of time had passed to see if we were ready. He was able to answer our questions about the food and wine. They have the wine of the racing driver Jarno Trulli and as Formula 1 fans we asked if it would go with our food choices. The waiter agreed that it would and we had a friendly chat with him about F1 and about Jarno Trulli who he showed us a picture of visiting the restaurant - this was a nice bonus to our evening.
After a short time we were taken to the table by the window (overlooking the pretty fairy lights in the square) and served some lovely rolls (the choices were poppy seed or a roll with cream cheese in). An amuse-bouche followed shortly, which was a warming cup of soup that was very flavourful - I didn't catch what it was but believe it did have asparagus in. In between this and our starter arriving we were offered more bread. We were also served our wine, which was decanted (a nice touch) but was a little cold for a red for our tastes.
We had both chosen the same starter and main. Our starters arrived and looked delicious; it was an egg poached in red wine with bacon bits and a sauce. The eggs were ever so slightly overdone so they did not have a completely runny yoke but were still a bit runny. I really enjoyed this course but my partner felt he would have liked more sauce and bacon as it was really good.
Our main course arrived promptly but not hurriedly after our starters had been cleared. We had ordered the venison with fondant potatoes and green beans. We had both been expecting a whole piece of venison but what arrived was actually more like a burger (i.e. a mince patty). We both thought this course was fairly ordinary and could have done with a bit more flavour; given venison is usually a very gamey flavour this did not come through as much as we would have liked or expected.
Following this we tried to decide on puddings; I choose some blue cheese with walnut bread and my partner chose to pay an extra £4 (which was no trouble to organise) to get the chocolate fondant from the specials menu. I also asked for advice on which port might be suitable for the cheese and the waitress was not sure, this was not a problem however as she promptly sought help from a colleague (possibly the manager or sommelier?) and he gave some advice.
My cheese was very flavourful and served with some delicious accompaniments. My partner also enjoyed his chocolate fondant and the sugar work that it came decorated with was very artful and attractive.
Soon after we settled the bill and went on our way by which time the restaurant had really filled up and was buzzing. We really enjoyed our meal here which was really made by the excellent, friendly and attentive service we received. The food was good but could have been even better, next time (and we would definitely return) we will try the a la carte menu to see if there's a difference. I noticed also a private area for small parties and think this would be a lovely place to hold something like that.
Overall a great restaurant that with a few tweaks could be really excellent.