“ BRITISH. Riverside Oracle, 2-4 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4SE. Tel: +44 (0)118 950 5036. „
London Street Brasserie is contemporary British restaurant (with the occasional mix of French and the Mediterranean) in the centre of Reading backing onto the river Kennet. It's a huge white building with a modern feel inside; wooden floors, light beech tables (no table linen) and bright spot lighting. Weekend reservations are usually required as are some lunchtimes because of the promotional deal (more on that later!) The food is of pretty good standard and the menu should have something to suit everyone. Starters range from squid salad; asparagus with Parma ham and boiled egg to Foie Gras and duck liver pate (which I can highly recommend). For main courses there are usually a variety of fish courses such as Monk fish, halibut and seabass but for me it's the meat section that is the best. Local pork cutlets are great and the rump of lamb is delicious. Deserts are generally OK though they have been a bit hit and miss on occasion. The hot chocolate fondant with Baileys Ice Cream was just to rich for me however the Apple and blackberry crumble is divine. The chef and owner is Paul Clerehugh who also owns the Crooked Billet at Stoke Row (This is an AMAZING restaurant - Kate Winslet had her wedding reception there!) All this adds up to a pricey menu really: Starters - £7to £15 (this is for the lobster starter) Mains - £14 - £20 Desserts - £5.50 - £6.50 (or £7.650 for the cheese board) There's a comprehensive wine list without half a dozen red and whites by the glass. I can't claim to be an expert on wine so wont try to say too much here! There also do a nice line in cocktails but these are around £7 - £7.50 a glass so not on the cheap side. There is also a promotional deal on every day for £14.95 for two courses and the menu will give you a decent taste of the a la carte. On Sunday, for an extra £3.95, you can have the Sunday Luncheon set menu. The staff, all dressed in black, are attentive and friendly although service has sometimes been slow on a Sunday. Toilets are clean and nicely designed although upstairs so not so easy for those with a disability. A pretty good restaurant and one of the best in Reading town centre.
London Street Brasserie is a not a bad place to eat - the decor is relatively modern - in the lots of pine wood sense - the music is not too loud, and the staff are reasonably attentive as long as it isn't too busy. The food is fine, it's just a long way from outstanding. It is reasonably priced compared to the similiar restaurant in London - however we are in Berkshire, where good restaurants abound, and there are a lot of options in Reading that are far better. For essentially fancy ready-meals from a food service company (3663 or Brakes) it's okay - it just isn't the same as food prepared by a proper chef.
The London Street Brasserie is the best restaurant that I have found in Reading, and easily the best in the Oracle. The food is original, but not pretentious. My favourite example is venison on a base of haggis and figs. It’s just so bizarre sounding that I had to try it, and I was not disappointed. Another favourite of mine is their pan fried chicken, which has appeared on the menu in various different forms and never fails to please. The starters are again excellent, but most tend to be a bit too fishy for my liking. If you do not eat seafood then half of the starters are ruled out already. I have however never failed to find something that I like. One warning, the pasta is a huge starter and could easily be considered a main course. That is quite unusual for the London Street Brasserie who like to send you away satisfied but not stuffed. The deserts are again good, but many places do good deserts these days by just buying them in. I would not like to malign the London Street Brasserie by saying that this is what they do, and the presentation of them is superb, but they are not as outstanding as the main courses. Perhaps the best way to eat at the London Street Brasserie is to go, any day, before 7pm - ideal for Sunday lunch. They have a fixed price menu (£12.50) which has a good selection of food. They have not taken small portions or the cheapest dishes from the main menu - there is a genuine good selection of food. If you are tempted to stray from the set menu then it could cost you almost half as much again. Lastly, the atmosphere in the restaurant is relaxing. The music tends to be light jazz, the decor is light and airy, and the view over the canal is tranquil. The restaurant is situated on the bridge at the east end of the Oracle centre, so in summer you can sit outside on the terrace and watch the barges float past. I feel that I probably haven’t written good enough a review for this place, but then if I made it sound too good I would never be able to get a table there.