Let’s Eat, Let’s Drink
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.
As well as the breadth of the selection, what’s also notable is that, on the basis of experience and of what friends say, I think it’s fair to say you can visit any of them regardless of your gender. That has to be a real step forward from not so long ago.
I hope the same is true about everyone being able to visit anywhere regardless of your age, race, skin colour, nationality or anything else that it’s dumb to make knee-jerk judgements about.
For access-related issues I know for sure it’s a different story. How easy is it to visit this venue or that, if you’re in a wheelchair, using a walking frame; if you’re struggling with your sight or your hearing; if you find anything else hard going. All these things are, at best, variables. Yes, I think we’re getting better as a society on these fronts, but we’ve a long way to go.
Anyway, back to food and drink.
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 eleven 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, I’ve never been disappointed by Warings, a family-owned baker which runs a nice café as well. I’m not a big bread eater, but the teas, coffees and buns I’ve had there have been consistently good – as has the service. 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 and The Moderation mentioned below), but Loddon Brewery in Dunsden is a short walk from Caversham Park/Emmer Green. At their Tapyard, as well as beer, you can get a coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cakes. And there’s a small but thoughtfully stocked farm shop on site too. I think of it as a really good resource if I’m walking in that direction. (I can’t comment on their bottled or canned beers as I’ve only ever drunk Loddon beers on tap in pubs.)
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 a good bet 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 remarkable. I say that because I have never had a disappointing meal there, nor a disappointing takeaway. This is going back over many years – indeed, to their earlier location at the bottom of Caversham Park Village. It’s small. It might not look stunning (whatever ‘stunning’ might be) … but it’s very good food.
With broadly the same style of cuisine, The Bina (Prospect Street) is reliable too. Bigger and, I guess, more impersonal than The Village Tandoori, I’d not say it’s outstandingly ‘different’ in any way, but I’ve never had a poor meal here. And sometimes predictability is a good thing.
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 in The Thai Table, on the same street, that often, but when I have I’ve left a happy eater.
(I’ve fond memories of The Peking Palace but that went years ago and has never been replaced. I guess it’s a style of cuisine that’s fallen out of fashion.)
Quattro on Prospect Street falls into the same grouping as The Thai Table – I’ve not eaten there that often, but whenever I have it’s always been good.
It was a pleasure to go back to The Lebanese Village, (Bridge Street). After not going there for ‘the Covid years’, it has now (March 2022) re-established itself as one to visit for an excellent meal. It offers an enjoyably different range of tastes to savour.
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 are very limited, which could be a criticism if that’s a big issue for you. But I think all restaurants have struggled in the Covid era so that could well be a factor. The bottom line is, will I go there again? And the answer is yes.
And The Moderation (Caversham Road) is similar: I used to go there a fair bit but (for no reason other than Covid) not so much of late … to my own regret. (OK, that’s on Caversham Road, but it is only just over the bridge – a.k.a. the borderline.)
And talking of pubs across the borderline, The Flowing Spring, on the road to Henley, just after the roundabout to Sonning, scores very highly indeed 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 wide range of vegetarian and vegan offerings they have on the menu is a huge plus point for several friends.) The Flowing Spring is a firm favourite – and hey, it very nearly qualifies as being in Caversham.
Just Gimme A Drink
In contrast to The Moderation and 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.