The Lyndhurst Ale House, ReadingBy Tom Fahey
November 12, 2009
Andy Becalick and Jason Hill are brave men. For many, taking on the lease of one tied pub might be seen as a risk, but they have three – The Moderation, The Warwick and The Lyndhurst.
Gone are the days when pubs were just lager dens in which you could escape the missus; now landlords must offer more than a shed and a supermarket six-pack can. Andy and Jason have put in a huge amount of effort into doing just that.
Decent wine list? Check. Snazzy, clean and simple décor? Check. Removal of louts? Check. Cask ales? Check. Wi-Fi? Check. Pub quiz? Check. Pub games? Check. Two-for-one Aftershock with every half-price flaming sambucca? No? Oh well, you can’t have everything.
The Lyndhurst is not a gastro pub, nor should it be. The menu does not stray from what you’d recognise as “pub food”, but unlike 90 per cent of the pubs in the town centre, it is all homemade.
You should really expect to pay more for food not made in a factory, but The Lyndhurst’s prices are entirely unhoiked. I visited on
Thursday when any starter and main from the specials board are £10.
Bacon, black pudding and roasted tomato salad is £5 on its own, between £0 and -£1 with the offer. Crisp bacon, slab of crunchy-soft black pudding and rosemary-studded tomato. Good with the offer, a bit small without it.
The same price and size, goats cheese and beetroot salad comprised slices of chevre log and beetroot alongside dressed leaves.
Chicken liver pate from the main menu was massive for £4.95 with mounds of Melba toast and excellent homemade onion jam.
Did I say The Lyndhurst’s food never strays from the familiar? OK, I think tonight they’d given chef some creative licence, which he’d used to good effect on a goat shepherd’s pie (£10).
Sounds odd, but the huge chunks of goat meat, rich gravy, crusty mash and goats cheese topping, with mint pea purée on the side were an inspired combination.
Perhaps too experimental was the monkfish in bacon with black pudding, mangetout, vermouth cream sauce and a pastry case.
Great fish and meat; jury’s still out on the rest, but a bargain at £9.
Goats cheese and roasted vegetable risotto may have been obscenely rich, but for £8.50, with a huge slab of cheese and more vegetables than you can shake a courgette at, it was more great value.
The success of the puddings (£4) depends on what you’re after. At more than considerable size, the banoffee pie would probably clog an artery or two, the chocolate mousse was a nice light bite but perhaps a little small while the syrup sponge pudding will jog many a school dinner memory.
Like its sister pubs, The Lyndhurst is everything a modern local should be. Jason and Andy clearly have a good sense of what the punters want and deliver it at very fair prices.
- Telephone: (0118) 961 7267
- Website: www.spirit-house.co.uk/lyndhurst/
- Address: 88 Queens Road,