… a real-life but simply personal guide. (Updated December 2023)
We all need food and drink to live. It’s that simple. So when time and money allows, it makes sense to actively enjoy what you consume.
There are a good number of places in Caversham and Emmer Green where I’ve had enjoyable meals – cafés, restaurants and pubs. And there are excellent takeaways too. With the selection we have, we’ve nothing to complain about.
The cuisines on offer locally vary, as does the price. It’s not really for me to recommend one over another – after all, we all have differing tastes. And, besides, there are plenty of review-centric web sites out there.
So, below, are the places that came to mind as I sat to write this all down. I am sure I will have forgotten some – read nothing in to it apart from poor memory/poor research! It’s a simply personal choice and, of course, you’ll need to make your own mind up.
As I write this, it occurs to me that that one thing all the following have in common is that they are not ‘chain’ venues. That’s not the reason I rate them as such. But experience tells me that the independents, to my taste buds, always provide the better meal.
A Café … Plus
I’ve a lot of time for The Bite up in Emmer Green (the same row of shops as Budgens) – it is consistently reliable and offers good quality, relatively straight-forward, food and drink. Mainly, I only have cuppas, but there are plenty of regulars calling in for breakfasts and lunches. A loyal local clientele says a huge amount about how good a place is. The owners – who’ve been there for over 12 years now – do what they do excellently. I’d say they bring to it far more than just good food and drink. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it is a café that’s an asset for the local community.
In the centre of Caversham, Warings as a café has become a bit … hmmm, of late (things like clearing up and putting chairs on the tables long before closing time and while they still have customers seems a bit squiffy). But they are a family-owned baker and the teas, coffees and buns I’ve had there have been consistently good. Incidentally, they are the oldest baker in Reading, going back to 1932.
And yes, I know that it’s not really Caversham (c.f. The Flowing Spring mentioned below), but Loddon Brewery in Dunsden is only a short walk from Caversham Park/Emmer Green. At their Tap Yard, as well as beer, you can get a coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cakes. And they’ve small but well chosen (in our view) range of more substantial meals cooked on site too. And there’s also a small but thoughtfully stocked farm shop on site. I think of it as a really good resource if I’m walking in that direction. And yes, they also offer a good range of their own beers – I’ve never found it hard to find a tipple to enjoy.
Over many years now, the Nepalese Momo House (Farnham Drive, Caversham Park Village) has always been and remains excellent – both eat in and for takeaways.
And as a simple takeaway, Ready Tasty, (Henley Road, the row of shops over the way from the top of Donkin Hill) has always been good for fish ‘n’ chips.
The Village Tandoori – just opposite the White Horse on Emmer Green’s Kidmore End Road, over the road from Budgens) – is good for a takeaway these days. Fairly ‘standard’ fare, but I’ve never been disappointed, neither recently nor going back over many years to when it was a restaurant and, indeed, to when they were at their earlier location at the bottom of Caversham Park Village.
With broadly the same style of cuisine, The Bina (Prospect Street) has been reliable too. It’s not outstandingly ‘different’ in any way, but I’ve never had a poor meal here. And sometimes predictability is a good thing.
And there’s Clay’s … the new-ish kid on block. Clay’s used to be on London Street and I ate there four or five times. It was always excellent, and an enjoyably different menu from the regular Indian fare. But it wasn’t so great as a location. Now it’s moved to Prospect Street and … it is living up to all expectations. A friend, a very experienced restaurant-goer, reckoned it was the best Indian meal he’d ever had. I didn’t disagree. On the negative side, I would say it’s a noisy place – hard surfaces making it less than ideal for anyone with any kind of hearing problem and, indeed, to some extent for all folks.
Praya, a Thai restaurant on Church Road, was a firm favourite for a good few years until the owners moved to a new location in Surrey. (Yes, I did visit them there too.) I’ve not eaten often at The Thai Table, in effect its replacement, but it has always been decent enough when I have. A friend of ours uses it regularly – and rates it highly.
Quattro on Prospect Street falls into the same grouping as The Thai Table. I’ve not eaten there often enough (!), but whenever I have – including very recently (December 2023) – it’s always been really, really good. It’s also always popular – so definitely worth booking in advance.
It has been a pleasure to go back to The Lebanese Village, (Bridge Street) after a forced break during ‘the Covid years’. If that’s a style of cuisine you fancy, in my experience it’s always a really good bet for an excellent meal. And my experience extends to autumn 2023 – so they are certainly consistent!
The Persian Palace (right on Caversham Bridge, overlooking the river) is relatively new. The previous Persian restaurant there was a real favourite and I was very sad to learn the owner had died – him and his staff did a very good job. For the new one, so far I’ve only tried it once and it’s probably not wise to say anything too definite. But, on that one experience, the four of us had good food and good service. The drinks options were very limited and if that remains the case, this could be a criticism if that’s a big issue for you. But would I go there again? Yes.
The Flowing Spring, on the road to Henley, just after the roundabout to Sonning, scores very highly with us for food and for drink. This Free House specialises in meals for people with dietary needs, whether food intolerances such as gluten or dairy (every menu item shows any allergens present) or a lifestyle preference. (The good range of vegetarian and vegan offerings they have on the menu is a huge plus point for several friends.) It’s certainly a firm favourite – and hey, it very nearly qualifies as being in Caversham.
Just Gimme A Drink
And in contrast to The Flowing Spring mentioned above, which I normally visit for food and drink, in recent years The Fox and Hounds (Gosbrook Road) has – for me – come to shine as a pub. I know there’s food available but this is the place I think of if I just want a drink. No driving needed, no lifts, no taxis … this is a good pub in the heart of Caversham. Sorted. And they change the (wide) range of beers on offer regularly too. Add in Loddon’s Tap Yard, mentioned above under ‘A Café … Plus’, and there you go … sorted!