My perfect Reading weekend: restaurant reviewer Edible Reading

Claire Slobodian
Edible Reading

Edible Reading is our town’s premier resource for all things food. Reading’s most authoritative and most mysterious food blogger, they have been publishing anonymous, reliable and chuckle-worthy reviews of Reading’s restaurants since 2013.

Follow Edible Reading around town on their perfect Reading weekend, taking in old school boozers, chicken paella, Babycham and Reading Elvis.

Food & Drink

There’s something about that first pint of the weekend, so pubs are often uppermost in my mind when I flee the factory gates with two whole days of R&R stretching out in front of me.

On a sunny day, you can do a lot worse than The Allied Arms with the jukebox playing ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ (no, really), a pint of Thatchers Gold and a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch opened out on the table. In summer it comes alive and is a great spot for people watching the great and the good of Reading.

On inclement days I love settling in at The Nag’s Head for a proper session – although Explore Reading’s reviewer is spot on when he says that Friday nights there can be a tad taxing.

A Saturday morning without the sharp clang of the cider hangover alarm clock is the stuff that perfect weekends are made of. Breakfasts are tricky in Reading: chains seem to do them so much better than everybody else. So, I would probably end up in Cote enjoying their French breakfast (phenomenal crumbly boudin noir and brioche toast – be still my clogging arteries), though I’m also partial to the occasional breakfast at Bluegrass, for the terrific smoked bacon and baked eggs.

I Love Paella

For dinner on Saturday night you’ll likely find me in the Fisherman’s Cottage drinking Estrella and eating salt cod churros, perfectly caramelised goat’s cheese and that fabled chicken paella. With I Love Paella in the kitchen it really does have everything: not just a great summer pub, but a brilliant place in general.

After that there’s only one place for me and that’s The Retreat. It’s still, for me, the finest pub in Reading – a proper old-school boozer with a brilliant landlord, a varied and fascinating clientele and a great range of drinks (including both Cherry B and Babycham, in case you want to party like it’s 1979). Sometimes there’s music in the back room but I’m happiest if I have a table in the front with the other regulars, enjoying a little piece of village life close to the centre of town.

Finally, when I need to wind down on a Sunday, it’s got to be The Lyndhurst. It has lovely tables outside which catch the late afternoon sun, and the pickled eggs (pink with beetroot and a hint of star anise) are possibly the finest bar snack in Reading.

Things to do

In an ideal world, after breakfast, I’d spend my Saturday shopping, mooching and drinking coffee, wandering and loafing and gassing with friends.

So, in no particular order, my day would include some of the following: looking in Oxfam Bookshop to see if they’ve picked up any beautiful Folio Society editions, trying on the hats in Adrienne Henry, having a Top Toastie and chocolate milkshake at Shed, sitting outside Tamp Culture on a sunny day watching the world go by and sipping a latte, paying a spiritual pilgrimage to the Heelas lower ground floor, taking a punt on reading material in Reading Library, losing an hour drifting around Reading Museum, strolling down the river from Reading Bridge to Caversham Bridge or having an iced coffee and enjoying all the chatting and smoking and gesticulating outside C.U.P.

If I could make any Reading event happen on this perfect weekend, it would be seeing the chap who works behind the Boots pharmacy counter in the Oracle and looks just like Corey Feldman perform Green Day songs outside Marks and Spencer with backing vocals from Reading Elvis and the gentleman with the Viking drinking horn who drinks in the Nag’s Head. What a supergroup!

But back in the real world, it would have to be Feastival, from Blue Collar Street Food, pitching up at Forbury Gardens. It’s a great event which has added a huge amount to Reading this year, and for some reason every weekend it’s happened the weather has been brilliant.

There’s something about sitting on a hay bale sofa with a cold drink (or a Tamp Coffee) eating crispy squid drizzled with sweet chilli sauce, or better still spiced chicken thighs from the peerless Georgian Feast, finished with lemon juice and crammed into a wrap. Again, it’s fantastic for people watching: you never quite know who will wander past.

Heritage and culture

Finally, if it’s open, which it is most Saturday nights I believe, I would make for Reading Minster. It’s a beautiful building. So calm and peaceful at night with the candles lit and music playing, so different from the cacophony outside. It blows my mind how old parts of that building are and there’s little as gorgeous as sitting outside C.U.P. or The Allied Arms, hearing the bells ringing.

Want more restaurant advice?

Check out Edible Reading’s full list of Reading restaurants by rating.

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