Sunday, 17 December 2017

Country pub is among town's top restaurants

Country pub is among town's top restaurants

THE Reformation is a delightful cottage-style country pub in Gallowstree Common only five miles from Henley and six miles from Reading, writes Judith Toner.

We were given a warm and friendly welcome by Richard Grant and Sam Murray, who have been tenants for the last few years.

When they arrived, the Reformation was number 345 out of 370 restaurants in Reading on TripAdvisor and is now currently number four out of 405, including a few months as number one.

This is a testament to their hard work and commitment. Sam is superb as the front of house and Rich is also the head chef, so expectation was high and was certainly delivered.

They describe their menu as an eclectic mix of traditional pub food and worldwide classics.

My husband Dave and I were delighted with the splendid selection of dishes from the specials board and main menu.

I chose my favourite to start — pan-fried scallops with chilli jam, lime crème fraîche and rocket salad.

The scallops had a smooth as silk texture and I relished the contrasting flavours of the chilli jam and creamy peppery flavour of the lime crème fraîche.

Dave chose the Rioja braised chorizo Scotch egg with chilli and lime aioli, a special and highly recommended by our lovely, efficient front of house server Sascha.

Forget your traditional Scotch egg, this dish was beautifully presented on a rustic slate.

With the egg oozing with chorizo and braised in Rioja, the flavours worked well together and gave an altogether decadent dish. This dish is a must-try and guaranteed to impress.

We chatted with Rich after the starters and his love of food was influenced at an early age by his dad who travelled the world as a merchant seaman — hence the influence of some Eastern and Mediterranean dishes on the menu.

The strong start to proceedings continued with slow roasted old spot pork belly — a sumptuous meal with an abundance of tender pork and crisp crackling cooked to perfection.

The Bury black pudding stood up well as a flavoursome match to the pork and the duck egg added a strong accompaniment to the overall satisfying taste.

Dave’s choice was the Ref Burger, with stilton, smoked bacon, sweet corn relish and coleslaw. All homemade — from the burger which was reminiscent of proper homemade burgers from childhood to the gorgeous sweet corn relish which had a bite to it.

Mouthwatering triple-cooked chips arrived, but the size of the burger dish defeated Dave and alas I had to help out on the chips.

The wine selection at the Reformation is an impressive pairing carefully chosen with a variety of countries on offer and new estates.

The menu is a must for steak and fish lovers. The specials featured a wagu bavette (flank steak) with parmesan fries — my husband has since earmarked this for the next time. Steaks are Black Angus with an impressive 45oz Tomahawk for two to share.

We unfortunately left no room for the blissful-looking desserts, with the chocolate espresso tarte and lemon curd roulade with fresh raspberry coulis and cream particularly appetising.

Rich and Sam are so enthusiastic and clearly it is a vocation.

They have strong ties with the local community and Rich also helps out at Chiltern Edge School with their cookery classes. He gets great satisfaction in passing on his love of food and supports the dreams of the children he works closely with.

We left the Reformation feeling satisfyingly full, having enjoyed the atmosphere and the surroundings — a mix of old and contemporary.

The pub is a perfect setting for couples, while families can enjoy a children’s play area or throwing a special party.

Simply put, the Reformation ticks all the boxes.

Advance bookings are recommended by calling 0118 972 3126 or visiting www.therefpub.com

Wine and Dine

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