Update: The Lyndhurst changed hands in July 2019. This review is based on the previous management.
Full disclosure – this review is based on a lunchtime visit to the Lyndhurst. Is that cheating, going at lunchtime? Perhaps, but Mrs. Quaff and I went to sample their reputedly good food, and it was an obvious opportunity to test out their beer credentials too. The Lyndhurst is apparently known locally as the Lyndie, according to a friend who used to live next door. Living next door to a pub has its ups and downs. Not far to walk home, but a fair bit of noise as they take the empty bottles out at the end of the night for example. In return for that noise, we used make a right racket setting off borderline illegal fireworks from the back garden of a small terrace house garden every bonfire night. There was a real knack to missing both the apple tree in the garden and the church spire opposite when launching rockets – one that we didn’t always succeed in. It was only fair.
Anyway, whatever you call it, the Lyndhurst have a pretty good selection of beers. Only 3 pumps – Moles Jailers Daughter (which had a quaintly hand written sign with a missing apostrophe that is apparently intentional. I contacted Moles to find out what their justification is for this grammatical travesty. I’m still waiting for a response). Also, Loddon Hullabaloo, and Hooky Mild. But then they also have and a couple of Meantime beers on tap – London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red, Shipyard America pale ale, and Orchard Pig revellers cider. I have been asked why I don’t list the lagers and stouts. It’s because they are always pretty much the same. In this case, Guinness stout, and for lager, Hop House 13, Heineken, Birra Moretti, Camden Hells, and Amstel. If I don’t mention it again, you can assume it’s that list, perhaps swapping Fosters for Heineken, Peroni for Amstel, Staropramen for Birra Moretti. But I can guarantee that there will always be Guinness, Hop House 13 and Camden Hells. At least until some other beer replaces them as trendy lager of the day. And let’s face it – Guiness is never going to be replaced.
At the barman’s advice I plumped for a Meantime London Pale Ale. It came in one of those pint glasses that are shaped like a big wine class, and look impossible to actually hold a full pint. What genius was responsible for this trend? Did some people sit round in a room and say “you know what would look good on Instagram – a pint of beer, but in a glass that looks a lot smaller than a pint“. Or perhaps “pint glasses are too stable, so lets put them in a top heavy monstrosity“. And then the Meantime marketing team stick their oar in and say “I know, lets also print a bunch of words tenuously associated with drinking on the side – that’s what’s the beer drinkers of Reading have been crying out for“.
|A pint||Could be anything|
Anyway, glass shaming to one side, what about the beer? It cost £5.20 (it’s not cheap drinking out of glasses like that), but fortunately it was actually really nice. It was a little bit fizzy, but in a pleasant way, and was a sort of cross between a bitter and an IPA. It’s a bit different, and I was a massive fan of this flavour, and spent some time describing how good it was. And then Mrs. Quaff pointed out that I’d had it a few weeks ago at home in a can (on special offer from Ocado at the moment), and raved about it then too. I need to add my home drinking to untappd too, to avoid this sort of embarrassing confusion. Mrs. Quaff had a coffee, so she’s useless as far as this review is concerned other than to point out my mistakes. Perfectly nice and reasonably priced coffee if you are interested (£2.70).
As I said before, this was lunch time, so the focus for many people was on food. In the food vs beer stakes though, it was a case of “food is available, but it’s a pub not a restaurant”. A gastropub, but a pub none the less. Good – that’s what I’m after. The food was really nice – worth a visit. The only downside if you do eat is that you might still be hungry afterwards. Two sausages is not enough for “sausage and mash” in my opinion. Two is a child’s portion. It’s clearly meant to be three for a grown up. It does leave enough room for snacks though, which included a giant jar of Snaffling Pig port scratchings – the best scratchings (even if they are in a jar).
What about the atmosphere? They had a Bob Marley album playing in the background (fairly loud considering it was lunchtime. And I don’t think this was revenge for the fireworks.). Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and there was a healthy buzz in the place that many pubs would love to have at lunchtime. They also do a bunch of different events, like live music, and a quiz night. Best of all, they have a film night – Back to the Future and Fight Club coming soon for example. And when you compare their beer prices to a large coke at Vue, the beer starts to look quite reasonable.
There’s a surprising amount of space in the pub, with a good number of tables inside, and a tiny beer garden out front – right on the IDR. Oh, the tables though. We had a really wobbly table. In fact it was something I didn’t know was possible – double wobbly. Even with elbows keeping the table down in one place, the top of the table was so uneven that my plate wobbled on the stationary table. I was undecided at the time if that was quaint or annoying, but on reflection I’m coming down on the side of preferring individual quirks like that, rather than a bland pub like a Spoons. Given that, how does it rate?
|Beer Quality||Excellent. Well looked after beer|
|Beer Selection||Not such a wide selection as some pubs, but that’s probably for the best – a smaller pub either has less selection or less quality as the beer sits unsold for longer. I know what I’d prefer|
|Drink vs Food||They are a bit of a gastropub. They have a quality chef, and the menu includes mussels and vegan meatballs. You can definitely go just for beer though|
|Music||Not bad – a bit on the loud side for lunchtime, ideal for the evening|
|Snacks||Love the snaffling pig pork scratchings. Don’t love that they are in a jar.|
|Atmosphere||Good atmosphere, and they work hard to ensure that.|
|Price||Expensive for a pub that is outside the town center.|
|Space||Plenty of space inside. Outside not so much.|
The Lyndhurst is close to having it all – good beer, good food, good atmosphere. It isn’t top in any of those – but it’s so close that it still adds up to a respectable score. I asked myself how far away I’d live and still count this as the pub to walk to for a few beers. I reckon I’d easily walk 30 minutes to visit a good local like this. Other than perhaps for film night – that’s worth an even further walk.