O' Neills, ReadingBy Phil Creighton
November 13, 2008
Name an Irish beer. Bet you thought of Guinness first and Caffreys second.
But what about Smithwicks? Never heard of it? Is it new? No, it’s just not that well known over here. It dates back to 1710, and is brewed in Kilkenny on a site that has been creating tipples since the 14th century.
It’s one of four different Irish ales you can sample at O’Neills in Reading town centre.
And you can try them all: the chain offers the quartet in special third of a pint glasses so you can decide your favourite.
Included in the offer are Guinness, Caffrey’s, Smithwicks and the new kid on the block, Guinness Red.
It’s a great way to find your favourite – although O’Neills also boasts a fine range of contential lagers (including my personal favourite, Amstel).
O’Neills also has a large food menu, featuring pub grub staples but with an Irish twist. For example, its all-day breakfast (£5.95) features Irish sausages, white pudding and Irish soda bread. There’s a steak and Guinness pie (£7.75) and an Irish rump steak sandwich (£5.75).
Since its recent menu revamp, the chain has promised to source as much of its ingredients from the Emerald Isle itself: this even goes down to the condiments, which come from Ballymaloe in County Cork.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than its Taste of Ireland menu, featuring eight dishes that are all priced at just £3.50 each. It’s a bargain – just like its pickers and sharers deal, of four starters for £9.50. There are 13 to choose from, four of which are vegetarian.
We opted for its king prawn skewers, its pepperd Irish rump steak skewers, Quorn sausage skewers and topped potato wedges with mushrooms and melted Irish cheddar.
The steak came with a sublime pepper sauce that we kept back for our main course, while the wedges were chunky and generously topped with cheese.
Quorn sausages are fine and came with a barbecue sauce, while the prawns and the steak were warm and properly cooked, but not quite hot enough.
Again, we held some barbecue sauce back for our mains.
For mains, Malcolm opted for the Irish sausages and colcannon (a mash made of potatoes, spring onion and cabbage), Fenton choose the chicken and mushroom crockpot and I went for the Irish stew crockpot.
Even though these dishes all cost just £3.50, the portions were impressive. We barely managed to finish them.
My stew, mutton and root veg, came with real Irish soda bread. Delicious.
Fenton’s chicken was served on colcannon and topped with cheddar. He really enjoyed it.
Malcolm’s Irish sausages, made to a County Cork recipe, looked like a pile of bangers and mash from The Beano, but there was nothing funny about the taste.
We could have tried puddings, from £2.95 for ice cream, but couldn’t eat any more.
The pub is very popular, particularly for the Champions’ League. Given its value for money, it’s not hard to see why.
- Telephone: (0118) 960 6580
- Website: www.oneills.co.uk
- Address: O’Neills