Penta Hotel, Reading Town CentreBy Sarah Dave
March 17, 2010
It wasn’t what we were expecting from a funky, largely business market hotel.
Tomato braised mussels with lemon braised fennel? Wild mushroom risotto with Parmesan crisps? Spiced bread and butter pudding?
Who did penta hotel think it was? Daniel Galmiche?! Paul Clerehugh?!
No, John King and that’s a name worth remembering as he’s the talented executive chef at penta hotel in Oxford Road in Reading’s town centre. He has ambitions to make dishes like this more a part of the hotel’s menu.
We were lucky enough to be offered the choice of trying some of the fine dining fare than the square meal-type food normally available.
Penta’s usual menu caters for the time-short business market. And I think you’d be assured of well-cooked, no nonsense grub if that’s what you wanted.
Nibbles included bacon and onion tarte flambée (£5), smoked salmon (£6.50) and a Mediterranean charcuterie for two people (£9.50). The grill menu offers pork chops, rib eye steaks and garlic and herb chicken breasts. Veggies can opt for saffron risotto (£11.50) and pasta with mushrooms and artichokes (£11.50). You can also get fish and chips, burgers and bangers and mash.
Sweet tooths can go for chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, apple or pear tarts (all £5.50).
But that night my guest and I both went for something a bit more special.
We started with an amuse bouche of pan seared scallops with celery root purée and black truffle. The scallops were butter-soft and I’ve never enjoyed celery as much as I did that night.
For starter I had confit of duck leg with a cherry, lentil and herb salad. The lentils complemented the meat which just fell off the bone like chocolate off a hot kettle.
My guest’s tuna nicoise, green beans, new potatoes and quail egg were beautifully cooked.
For main, my north east Atlantic cod was meaty and delicious teamed with sunblush tomatoes and Thai asparagus while my guest’s lamb rump was polished off with gratin potatoes, carrot purée and broad bean and mushroom ragout.
While my guest chomped his way through generous portions of cheese, rustic bread and chutneys for dessert,
I savoured a heartwarming apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla ice cream. The crumble top was wonderfully buttery.
Penta has a great selection of wines and cocktails. I tried an unusual banana daiquiri (£6.50) which was refreshing. Tea fans are spoilt for choice with exotic blends including green tea with currants and black tea with cornflower blossoms.
We had a hearty meal which was perfectly balanced and, although well-fed, we weren’t groaning in discomfort – often the drawback with rich food.
Penta’s luxurious lounge area was the stage for several games on the hotel’s Wii machine – another great reason to eat here – before we repaired to our room.
Highlights in our fantastic suite included a pool table, a bath the size
of a small swimming pool, no shortage of towels in all sizes and a huge bed big enough for at least four people.
This was clearly a good-time room.
The next morning we were greeted with a comprehensive breakfast buffet. Not only was there the usual fry-up items but various breads, Danish pastries, cold meats, salmon, fruit and homemade muesli to satisfy all nationalities.
Penta has loads of potential and could be really hot on fine dining – if it markets it well.
- Telephone: (0118) 958 6222
- Website: www.pentahotels.com