Bath Rd, Reading, West Berkshire RG7 5JB
Telephone: 0118 930 2472
Website: Click Here
Cost for a Sunday lunch: 2 courses – £13.95, 3 courses – £16.95
I was looking for a Best Sunday Roast lunch in Theale, near Reading and found The Winning Hand. I booked a table for 3 (without a highchair this time, someone was babysitting John William – thanks Gini :-). Quick side note – Gini, Mik’s sister, has just started a very admirable local charity called Bucket List Wishes. Please check out the site and support if you can)
Drinks order was taken, a shandy for me, diet coke for Claire and a cider for Mik. Looking over the menu, we decided to have a starter and main course initially.
The main courses came out quickly, and once again were presented well. They did stack the meat on top of the rest of the meal – I normally like this arrangement, but (as Claire pointed out) it can spoil the crispiness of the roast potatoes underneath. We each had a few slices of meat, roast potatoes, new potatoes and a large dish of vegetables to share (I didn’t take photos of these).
The 3 large slices of pork were nice, quite succulent but not a huge amount of flavour – I believe this is was more down to the meat being pork rather than anything the chef could have down. I enjoyed the crackling on top. I tried a bit of Claire’s roast lamb (she had 3 smaller slices), it was very good (she was pleased with the sprig of fresh rosemary on top). Mik liked the (2 large slices of) beef, but it was cooked “well-done” – not that he asked for anything different, but I think it should be cooked medium-rare, with the option to go to well-done upon request.
The two large roast potatoes were nice, not a lot of taste, but mostly crispy -as mentioned, they would be better if the meat wasn’t placed on top. The new potatoes were a nice addition, something I haven’t had for a while.
The vegetables consisted of courgettes, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and leek – so a good selection. All were served al-dente.
There was lots of gravy, enough to last the whole meal, and had a nice flavour.
Lastly, the “extras”. The crackling served with the pork, whilst without the layer of moist fat underneath and smaller than expected, was crunchy and I was pleased with it. Mik enjoyed the Yorkshire pudding. Claire liked the sprig of rosemary with the lamb (but perhaps something extra should have been served with it :-)).
So, after such a nice lunch, we moved on to dessert. After longer than expected, our pudding order was taken. Claire decided not to have one, Mik ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding along with an Irish Coffee, I asked for the lemon tart and a cappuccino.
Desserts took markedly longer to come out than main courses, but when they did we were impressed. Mik’s consisted of a large square slice of sponge with a lot of toffee sauce on top. My sizeable slice of lemon tart was served with a slither lemon on top and a “scoop” of whipped cream on the side. I was pleased with my choice, the lemon was very sharp but sweet. I was a bit jealous of the sticky toffee pudding though, Mik was definitely pleased!
So, on to my conclusion. The food quality at The Winning Hand was good – freshly cooked, great value (3 courses for £16.95), good presentation and tasted nice. Whilst not fine dining, we were all pleased with our courses. The venue was good, providing character in the older part of the venue and a fresh, inviting feel in the new restaurant. The waiting time was the minus point here. Initially, service was top-notch, but by about 13:30, it decreased drastically. So much so, it felt like half an hour from finishing the dessert to receiving the bill (which I requested a couple of times). This was down to the fact the rest of the venue was busy, but it did end an otherwise enjoyable meal into a frustration (especially when we had to get back to Gini and John William). They did apologise for the slow service at the end and also provided chocolate mints with the bill, so won back a bit of favour.
Overall then, The Winning Hand was a good venue for a Sunday lunch in Theale; they score a very solid 4/5.