The Bottle and Glass

By | 05/07/2018

This week I visit what must be the poshest pub in the Reading area – the Bottle and Glass. It’s a bit out of town, but their twitter feed kept pushing their amazing pizzas from the pizza oven in the garden, and it was a nice sunny day (yet again – that seems to be a recurring theme of my reviews recently), so I decided to take the family for a treat. At least it sounded like a treat to me. When I triumphantly announced to them that we were going to drive to a country pub to get some pizza, the eldest promptly informed me “I don’t like pizza”. “You love pizza.” I replied. “You even have a sticker from Dominos on your phone”. “Yea, well. I don’t like this pizza”. He’s never been before of course. He doesn’t have a clue what their pizza is like. 

I cheerfully ignored his complaints and shooed everyone out to the car. “I want my window up – it’s too cold”. It was 28 degrees outside. “This music sucks. What is it, like 100 years old or something?”. It was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. “I’m hungry”. Yea, no shit. We’d be eating now if you hadn’t kept stalling.

Anyway, the Bottle and Glass is a picture postcard country pub – thatched roof, white walls, and a large garden with picnic benches. Until recently it used to be similar inside – an old traditional country pub with low beams, a few wobbly tables, and a big fire. It was done up about a year ago by someone who used to run the only Michelin starred pub in London. And it shows. It’s all white walls, lime washed oak, and a wood burning stove. Villeroy and Boch fittings in the bathroom. The barman was very friendly, but he did look and sound like he had just finished playing Polo. The rest of the customers were even posher than him – lots of men wearing red shorts, and all the women had long blond hair,  designer strappy tops or flowing summer dresses, and massive designer sunglasses. Many had the sort of dog that you can only have in the countryside at their feet. Probably called Fenton.

Still, what counts is the beer. They had three beers in the main bar – Rebellion Smuggler, Loddon Summer Snowflake, and Loddon Hoppit. There’s a second bar too – somewhat surprising for a pub that’s really a restaurant now. It had Kentish Pip High Diver, and their own bitter (which I would be shocked if it was not by Loddon too, as it’s literally 5 minutes drive away). It also had free cucumber water on the bar for your children, in case they aren’t allowed a diet coke and a pack of crisps. The Summer Snowflake was not bad – no better than that. Tasty enough, but not so nice that I’d order a second pint of it. I imagine they sell more wine than beer, but at least they have the good sense to pick a good local brewery.

Despite there being two bars, I got the distinct impression that the bar was somewhere that you came to to ask for a table in the main restaurant or to order food if you are dining informally (which is rare, as the outdoor pizza oven seems to only run in good weather). I am sure there are people who come here just for a pint or two, but not the majority of the customers. The restaurant looks very nice, and the menu is clearly designed with the foodie in mind – I mean if you feel the need to explicitly specify that an egg is a hen’s egg, then you are clearly saying something about the normal expectations of your customers. “Oh, how unusual – a hen’s egg”.

As for the pizza, it was the thinnest pizza I have ever eaten. So thin that it was like a Matzo cracker. And the eldest declared “I really like this pizza”.

Beer Quality Not bad. I suspect it would be better if they sold a higher volume of it.
Beer Selection Not much variety in style. Could do with an IPA or an interesting lager
Drink vs Food It’s a restaurant. Locals probably pop in for a few pints, but that’s not what the pub is about now. On their website under Food and Drink, they have four menus and a wine list.
Music None
Snacks Wild garlic hummus with sourdough. Oysters. Scotch hen’s egg. Crisps too.
Atmosphere For all I have emphasised how much posher it is than other local pubs, it was relaxing and welcoming. A nice place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Price Surprisingly reasonable – £3.90 a pint.
Space Plenty of tables outside. Not so much room in the bar.

Score: 5.95

If I had been rating this as as restaurant, the score would have been very different. But as a pub, it’s not really a pub any more – it’s a restaurant with a beer garden.

Binfield Heath, Henley-on-Thames RG9 4JT, United Kingdom

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