Restaurant review: Poachers PubBy Phil Creighton
February 23, 2012
‘Come and review our pub,” was the invite from a hotel. A pub in a hotel? Surely not.
Having stayed in a range of hotels across the world, a hotel bar usually is one step up from an airport departure lounge: terrible places, full of lost souls and lost luggage.
So my initial expections of the Poachers Pub were low. It’s part of the Sindlesham Moat House, a Best Western hotel.
I should have known better: we’ve previously dined in the Mill’s restaurant, complete with charming views of the River Loddon and splendid food that’s reasonably priced.
The Poachers Pub is just round the corner from the main hotel and has its own car park. It’s part of what would have been the original 19th century mill house and shows its heritage with low beams and vintage floorboards.
However, this is no ye olde worlde inn, and it’s certainly not backwards in its menu. This is no omlette and chips or scampi in a basket case: the Poachers proposition is good food in a good pub.
It’s a popular one too. We’d arrived in time for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off and within minutes the bar was bustling with people wanting to enjoy a lunchtime pint with the big game.
And, given there were so many groups wanting to cheer on their team, there were no strained necks: several big screens are dotted around the building, all folding up when not in use.
Our toddler has no interest in the beautiful game – she always wants me to turn over from the footie so she can watch Mr Tumble tumble over again. Thankfully the Poachers has a splendid children’s pack bulging with things to do, colour in and explore. Three points in the bag for that one.
Footie fans like coming to the Poachers, I’m told, because they enjoy some light bites during those tense matches.
These are dishes at the £2.75 mark – onion rings, chips and a Bitterballen, a famous Dutch snack. A kind of chopped beef pate fried in breadcrumbs they are delicious. It’s not hard to see why it’s one of its most popular dishes.
For our main meal, we attempted to have a range of dishes from the menu. Jim likes his steak, so was delighted with a rib-eye, cooked just as he wanted it – rare to medium. The 10oz is a big ‘un and came with a price tag to match – £17.50 puts it in the upper bracket for pub meals. It came with some triple cooked chunky chips, a massive tomato and a small mushroom.
Christine wanted the home cooked ham with vegetables (£8.50) and was pleased with the thickly cut slices and her runny eggs.
Judith, the veggie in our party, enjoyed a tasty Thai veg curry (£8.95) that she struggled to finish because the portion was so big.
My choice was a beef casserole (£9.95) from the specials menu, and it came in a pot with some freshly roasted veg.
We managed to distract Sarah Jane from her children’s pack for long enough to get her to choose a pizza, and we were delighted with it. Edge to edge action, it came with a decent leaf salad. She enjoyed it and the chips it came with.
If you still have some space left, desserts are available at £4.95 each. Choices will vary and included banana loaf with toffee sauce, bread and butter pudding and cheesecake.
In the interests of professional duty, we tried the cheesecake. A massive slab that could have stood in for a doorstop duly appeared. It looked fantastic and was enjoyed by Christine.
Sarah Jane and I were originally going to share a bowl of ice cream but she quickly changed her mind when she tasted it.
No one had a bad word to say about their meals and there were murmurs of appreciation for the presentation and friendly staff too.
The Poachers is a great venue: it’s the kind of place you can take people to when you to show off. It’s not too expensive for some brilliant food in a relaxed venue … and it’s got those Bitterballen too.
When the final whistle blows, it’s definitely a result.
- Telephone: 0118 9499988
- Website: www.BestWestern.co.uk
- Address: Poachers Pub
Best Western Reading
Sindlesham RG41 5DR