What a joy to have such a fantastic pub slap bang in the middle of Newbury. I am so used to going out to the Bladebone or the White Hart and yet we have another really interesting pub in Newbury Town Centre. This pub has been taken over by a very enthusiastic and hard working manager and a really lovely chef who gave up his time to be interviewed by myself, the new but very keen blogger who is racing up the ratings, yay.
This was a fascinating menu for a town centre pub. Starters included crab and pickled samphire on toast, breaded sweetbreads with golden raisins and pink purslane. I had the escabeche of mackerel with orange, saffron and crÃƒÂ¨me fraiche. There was also an offer of pan fried pigeon breast with glazed salsify, spinach and pickled mushrooms. Interestingly they produced the most wonderful toasted/fried bread half way through to mop up the excellent sauce at the end.
For the mains there were some excellent fish dishes including beer battered haddock, pan fried fillets of sole with saffron potato croquettes and what I really wanted to try, the roasted fillet of cod with gnocchi, sea purslane, cockles and butter sauce. However i had the steak as it is a good benchmark for restaurants. From memory it was rib eye, well cooked rare as per my request and served with crunchy chips and a bÃƒÂ©arnaise sauce. They provided tap water with no quibble, as you know that and butter without request are always plus points.
The chef, Ian Neal, was charming and talked about the importance of buying local where possible though the issue has to be weighed against quality. However I noticed an advert on the wall asking if anyone had two acres for sale so that they can grow their own veg and have a couple of pigs. I love that.
This is a community pub who are looking to add to the personality of Newbury, they are organising a tug of war on the 25th of August with a bungee jump in the town square, I have to declare an interest here as they support West Berkshire Mencap, but I admire them for their determination to be involved in the local community