Forbury – a great start that tailed off


i have been meaning to go to the Forbury for ages. They send the most enticing emails and they have a snack menu! Who would have thought it, how can you go wrong with a snack menu. I was a touch surprised by the number of menus that they did have though. Quite a lot. Fifteen indeed on the website. As menu reading is an obsession with me that made me very happy and the food looked great. A few of the menus were out of date but they still made great reading.

As always we went with Sam and Alice, our foodie supporters (Sam is Tonys son, personal trainer to the stars and can eat anything and everything, Alice is his very long suffering girlfriend). We also had Ed with us, my nephew who also loves food and is from up North so every so often he can be heard saying “oh so fancy” as he comes across knives and forks etc).

It was a lovely evening when we turned up, we had been given a very precise choice of times of either 6.30 or 8.30 although I am not sure why as only half the tables were full. Still, we were greeted enthusiastically by Tomas, seen below presenting us with an option of cote de bouef, a wonderful piece of beef for two that I lusted after. However two of the others were there for the lobster offer, Tony had seen pigs trotters a la Pierre Koffman and Ed went with that as well. Therefore I had no one to share the beef with so I went with the lobster on the spur of the moment.


The rather wonderful cote de bouef presented so beautifully by the even more wonderful Tomas


After choosing our food whilst seated in the bar, Sam and Alice drinking espresso Martinis, which they seemed to enjoy enough to order again later, we were offered a table outside which was delightful. A warm evening, a Mediterranean feel and the background music of Reading Festival. We felt positively European (whilst we can) nibbling our olives that had a hint of cumin.


Firstly a little surprise of a carrot and orange amuse bouche, I thought I could detect a taste of ginger and I loved the texture and taste.


Steak tartare, shallots, gherkins and egg yolk, a great flavoursome dish



No skimping on the smoked salmon, went well with the capers, not sure where the blini came from but all very generous




The starters came out and were very impressive. My Salmon was an impressive amount presented in a large swirl on a blini which I suspected had been brought in then topped with a touch of caviare. Tony didn’t have a starter (!) wanting to leave room for cheese and pudding. Ed had a great steak tartare, very tasty and approved of by all of us and Alice had my plate envy plate Fois Gras un Torchon, Pain d’Epice and caramelised apple. This was a rich dish with the crunch underneath all improved even more by a dab of apple




As I didn’t drink this I was reliably informed that it was a good wine at a reasonable price from an extensive wine list. It certainly seemed to go down well.



The lobster with garlic butter. It came with a small amount of skinny fries. I will be honest here, this wasn’t the best course for me. The lobster was, well, OK. I should have gone with my first instinct and made someone have the beef with me. The last time I had lobster was on Jersey at a lobster shack and it tasted different, sweeter, juicier, meatier. This time the ends of the lobster were a tad dry and although we were given a lobster pick, i just couldn’t be arsed. I love working for my food, thus my choice is so often mussels, but this time I didn’t bother. Sam enjoyed his lobster although he bravely experimented with one without garlic butter and one side with and preferred it without so maybe I should have tried that. The sides of a handful of fries were a bit weedy too and there was no where to put them, the lobster was served on a wooden board with no more space. Indeed when they poured on the garlic butter it went all over the table cloth. A plate would have been great.


The pigs trotter, chicken mousse and fois gras, morels, truffle mash and Madeira sauce. This was a total winner with Ed, who loved the rich unctuous trotter which are so hard to get hold of in this country. Tony also really liked it but had been spoilt by Sam Mansfield at Brebis who made him possibly the best trotters he has ever had. However it came a great second and Tony was thrilled to get the chance to eat it again.


A pleasant cheese course, included Barkham Blue and a 12 month Montgomery Cheddar. We ordered the Sandemans Port at £5.50 but it wasn’t available, only the more expensive Krohn Colheita which we ordered at that price with hesitation.


The most disappointing course, I love diddy anything, cute miniatures and dolly size portions. Indeed my favourite food groups are canapés and champagne. However it did not feel like these were all home made puddings, indeed the macaron was still partly frozen in the middle. However, it was a nice selection albeit not seeming to be home made. However is that a necessity if the food is good? I need to think about it


As stated above, was this all home made and did it matter, Tony loved his Sicilian Lemon Tart with Mascarpone ice cream and I guess that is all that was important.

Would I go back to The Forbury. Yes I probably would although I wouldn’t have lobster. I loved the starters and maybe made a bad choice with the main. The staff were nice although I couldn’t work out why we were unable to book for 7, the time we wanted, when the place was half empty. I would be interested to review the place again, they do a lot of special nights which look interesting and I would be happy to interview them for my radio programme regarding their event nights.


Ed diving into the cheese with greedy abandon




Alice upon discovering that Sam had “cut the nose off the cheese”. The shock was palpable.







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