Want newer restaurants? See the hot new Reading openings in 2019.
In 2018, Reading seems to have a slower year of openings, with only 13 ventures on this list so far. But there’s still some exciting properties to keep our eyes on. Look out for the new BrewDog bar open in March, as well as independent restaurants such as Fidget & Bob, Clay’s Hydrabadi, Oishi Japanese and a revamp of the Corn Stores. Other foodie developments are also slowly taking shape at Jackson’s Corner – although I have confirmed news that Byron Burger and Thai kitchen Busaba may now never arrive in Reading. Read down for the details.
Discover the hottest and the newest restaurants, cafes and bars set to open in Reading in 2018, as well as the rumours to listen out for throughout the year. I’ll update this list as new restaurants and opening dates become clear throughout 2018.
Photo credit: Fidget and Bob
Fidget and Bob
Open: January 2018
This independent all-day-cafe-bar soft opened within the neighbourhood complex at Kennet Island. While it may seem out of the way of the town centre, it’s exciting to see a new opening for the community in the sparsely-served Green Park area.
It’s a simple space and the kitchen serves up an eclectic menu of breakfasts, traditional cafe fare, flat bread pizzas and cheese boards. Their current special is an upmarket, delicious take on a pot noodle, Chinese rice noodles, and veggies in an aromatic broth. I tried the char siu pork version, and it had the best version of that pork I’ve had in Reading, hands down. And it was only £5.
Opened by two enthusiastic Reading residents it looks an endearing venture. Between their social media updates and the Whitley Pump’s interview with the pair, I get the impression that while they are still developing and learning, their menu is homemade with love and passion and I can’t wait to try it.
Read a review of Fidget & Bob, from Edible Reading.
The Piazza, Kennet Island, Whale Avenue, RG2 0GX.
Lincoln Coffee House, Reading Bridge House
Open: 22 January 2018
This is the second branch from King’s Road cafe Lincoln. It’s in the reception of the office block at Reading Bridge House but is open to the public and has a bright, modern design to stop it looking like a corporate canteen. Opening hours also appear to be more consistent at 8am to 3.30pm on weekdays (I’ve yet to walk past their original venue and find it open). Coffee is strong and smooth, my flat white was practically silken, and there’s a wide range of infusions from Waterloo Teas. There’s also a fridge of simple, quick-grab sandwiches and salads at the counter, or a big menu of freshly filled, acceptable lunch break bagels.
Reading Bridge House, George St, RG1 8PJ, view website.
Open: 19 February 2018
Cafe Madras on Whitley Street has been closed for a while now. But finally the space appears to have a new owner who is reopening the joint as Vel, a South Indian Kitchen and Bar. From a quick look in the window before opening I’m not expecting any great changes from the Madras decor or menu style.
Read a review of Vel, from the Whitley Pump blog.
73-75 Whitley Street, RG2 0EG, view website.
Open: 19 February 2018
Sen is the first of two Japanese restaurants on this list to open outside the town centre (the other is Taberu, now Oishi on the Oxford Road). Could it be part of a growing trend for more interesting cuisines arriving in our suburbs, I wonder? Their frontage looks similar to many of the Wokingham Road’s cheap and cheerful restaurants, and it seems to only be offering takeaway, but their menu, and photos of their sushi online look beautiful, with nigiri prices starting at around £3.20/two pieces.
I’m also happy to see that as well as the standard sushi offerings, Sen also has noodle dishes, gyoza and a big range of rice bowls, topped with teriyaki salmon, katsu chicken, or my personal favourite, unagi, or eel.
199 Wokingham Road, RG6 7DT, view website.
Open: 1 March 2018
This is another restaurant that’s rising from the ashes of a closed Reading business. Lazeez, the Pakistani restaurant on the Wokingham Road shuttered in early February 2018 and a new venture, called Afghan, has opened in its place. Its focus is on grilled meats, mountainous pilau rice dishes and Karahi stews and curries.
146a Wokingham Road, RG6 1JL
Open: 16 March 2018
It’s been hard to miss the signals that BrewDog have taken over the impressive former Public space on Castle Hill, just opposite The Horn. The self-proclaimed punk beermakers covered the two-storey bar in one of the biggest vinyl signs known to man, declaring they are the ‘Hope for the Hopless’ (that would be us).
Beer hasn’t been a focus at the space before, so they’ve put in 20 beer taps behind the bar, including their classic Punk IPA, Elvis Juice and even more kookily named beers such as Kamikaze Knitting Club. They didn’t have any local breweries on for their opening but Siren Craft Brew, and WildWeather have appeared since. There’s a menu of giant burgers and wings and the bar is all industrial distress – ripped open ceiling, pipework booths and heavy wood tables. It’s the best use of the Castle Street Bar yet.
Broad Street Bar & Kitchen
Open: 13 April 2018
Artigiano Espresso & Wine Bar, the Broad Street cafe, really stopped being a wine bar months ago, food quality dipped and they started frequently closing before night time, (once, a manager asked me and a friend to finish up our wine at 7pm, because they were empty and wanted to shut early). It was a shame to see the cosy and welcoming space, with big enveloping armchairs and quirky design not live up to its potential.
Now it’s been taken over by two new local, independent owners, and has been rebranded under the tell-it-like-it-is name of Broad Street Bar & Kitchen. So far, the decor hasn’t changed wildly, but the new menu looks more ‘sit down and dig in’ with burgers, chunky sandwiches served with roast potatoes and a three course express lunch.
Read our full review of Broad Street Bar & Kitchen.
81 Broad Street, RG1 2AP, view website.
German Doner Kebab
Open: Mid-April 2018
Did you know the kebab was invented in Germany? Apparently, in the ’70s, a Berlin-based Turkish restaurant owner swapped the classic rice for a flatbread accompaniment to the meat so it was easier to takeaway. German Doner Kebab is an international kebab shop chain, also started in Berlin, that do high end doners in wraps traditional pitas, or oddly in a quesadilla. In Reading they have opened in the former Buzz Gym space on Friar Street, which, I for one, find amusing.
Read our full review of German Doner Kebab.
106 Friar St, RG1 1EP, view website.
Biscuit & Barrel
Open: Mid-April 2018
The former Bali Lounge on King’s Road has been taken back over by the brewery (Greene King) after the original tenants left the restaurant. It’s returned to a classic pub layout and despite the nice nod to Reading industry heritage in the name, the menu doesn’t offer anything particularly local. There is a solid pub grub list though of burgers, steaks, sandwiches with fries and a Sunday roast. Look out for a review of Biscuit and Barrel soon.
77-79 King’s Road, RG1 3DD.
The Hope & Bear
Open: Early May 2018
Not so much a new opening as a re-branding effort, the former Abbot’s Cooke near Cemetery Junction is now The Hope & Bear. As well as a new name, a new green paint job outside and vintage kitsch decor inside, there’s also a new food menu of classic pub stuff: a steak, a burger, a salad, roast chicken.
153 London Rd, Reading RG1 5DE.
Photography: David John New
Clay’s Hyderabadi Kitchen
Open: May 2018
If I told you one of this year’s most intriguing restaurant openings was going to be in the former Chicken Base on London Street, you might start to think all this editing business had gone to my head. But it’s true. A pair of enthusiastic owners, with experience in the kitchen at the Taj Hotel Group, have taken over the one-time fast food shop and are transforming it into a south Indian kitchen.
This won’t just be standard Indian fare. Clay’s started as a catering company serving up dishes from their native Hyderabad which features lots of meat, dried coconut, tamarind and sour flavours. Their Instagram feed has started filling up with delicious looking dishes including claypot biyriani, Pattar ka Gosht (thin slivers of boneless lamb shoulder marinated with black stone flower) and Nargisi Kofta, which I am very excited to hear is like ‘an Indian version of Scotch eggs’.
In an email, the owners told me: ‘it has always been depressing for us to look at the so-called Indian food available here in the UK. It has been our dream to start something where we can actually say with pride: “that’s what we eat back home”‘.
It’s the pair’s first time as restaurant owners, so it’s possible they may start small, but, just like fellow Reading catering-to-restaurant success story I Love Paella, we expect a lot of passion and enthusiasm, good food, and a fun dining experience.
Read more in the eight dishes to see at Clay’s Hyderabadi.
45 London Street, RG1 2AP, view website.
Vibes Caribbean Grill & Bar
Open: June 2018
March brought about the sad news of the closure of Bhoj at the back of the Broad Street Mall, often called out as one of Reading’s best Indian restaurants.
In its place is Vibes Caribbean, a family run place, serving up curried goat, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, apparently cooked on a traditional oil drum, and a range of Caribbean cocktails, all set to a soundtrack of reggae music.
7 Queens Walk, RG1 7QF, view website.
Open: 13 August 2018
Taberu Express was serving quality Japanese food for delivery only from the end of 2017, but never did sit in dining. After closing for all of July for refurbishment, it’s now reopened as Oishi, a minimalist dine-in Japanese restaurant run by a charming Burmese family. The manager told me the business is still connected with Taberu, although how isn’t entirely clear, and they’re aiming to be cheaper than Taberu’s prices – which it is. Their menu also indicates they’re an offshoot of the Brentford Oishi restaurant.
There is sushi, but it’s at the back of the menu, so the focus here is actually on hot dishes: katsu curries – with multiple options, not just chicken, stir fried noodles and ramen. There’s also a range of bento boxes, which are packed with either katsu, teriyaki or yakitori, all served with rice, miso soup, salad, crunchy pickles and fried dumplings. I tried one of those on my opening week visit. The dumplings were just as crispy and tasty as the Taberu version, but katsu was more bread coating than pork and not as soft. A portion of soft shell crab uramaki sushi rolls also weren’t as fresh or crisp as the Taberu version, but the crab was tasty and generously portioned. Everything is actually pretty big for the prices.
314 Oxford Rd, RG30 1AD. View website.
The Corn Stores
Open: 3 December 2018
Rarebreed Dining, the team behind the Shurlock Inn at Shurlock Row have taken over the long-forgotten Corn Stores on Forbury Road. After a bit of a delay (work was originally slated to start in spring), the handsome four-story Victorian property has undergone undergo extensive renovation work and a beautiful interiors makeover from Quadrant Design. It will finally reopen in December as a creative British gastropub with a healthy bar menu of locally sourced ales and, apparently, a member’s bar on the top floor.
Look our for a first look at The Corn Stores soon.
10 Forbury Road, RG1 1SB.
Open: possibly never?
According to Thames Valley property news site The Thames Tap, Peruvian kitchen Ceviche were set to take over the lease at the ground floor Jackson’s Corner slot originally planned for Franco Manca (the pizza joint opened at the Oracle Riverside last summer instead).
Ceviche was at the vanguard of the recent flurry of Peruvian restaurants to hit London. It serves up a fun, vibrant menu of crisp seafood and small plates from executive chef Martin Morales. Glamour Magazine got a bit over-excited last year and called them, ‘the sexiest restaurant in London’. With only two branches, in Soho and Old Street, it was always a surprising ‘get’ for Reading. But news from an insider suggests they’ve also rethought their lease with the ever-slowing Jackson’s Corner development.
Jackson’s Corner, King’s Road | View website.
Open: possibly never?
Byron Burger was the first of two restaurants set to bring life back to historic Reading landmark Jackson’s Corner. However, since then, Byron have announced the closure of 20 branches across the country, and news of their Reading opening has stalled. We reached out to the Byron PR team, but they have declined to comment on changes to the opening at this time. News on the restaurant property grapevine tells us they’ve decided not to continue with their Reading branch.
Open: Possibly never?
Bad news for Busaba fans. The intimate Thai bistro chain from Alan Yau was the second restaurant we were keeping an eye out for at Jackson’s Corner, but the PR agency for the chain have recently confirmed to Explore Reading that ‘Busaba doesn’t currently have plans for a Reading opening’.
While Busaba were originally undergoing plans to take over space on the ground floor, next to Byron, it seems the slow pace of developments at the former department store and the current restaurant climate may have changed their mind.
Hello! I'm Claire, the founding editor of Explore Reading. I'm a Reading native and former digital director of Time Out Shanghai. I founded Explore Reading so no one can say, ‘there’s nothing to do in Reading’, again. When not editing Explore Reading, I'm probably drinking a Manhattan.