The boutique bar, it’s a thing
Sit, sip (or guzzle), Wokingham's new boutique bar Sit & Sip, with its industrial details and funky neon is our top spot for an impeccably-made G&T and some light grazing.
Sit & Sip, Wokingham
Visited Wokingham recently? If you haven’t, sashay that way pronto. Following a rather painful regeneration project, the new town centre has been given a facelift of Sharon Osborne proportions – and it’s looking good. The jewel in Wokingham’s crown is Peach Place, sandwiched between Rose Street and Peach Street, now home to some cool quirky hangouts, including Sit & Sip – a boutique bar, serving artisan drinkies and snacks.
Do not be fooled by the exterior, it’s not going to win any architectural awards, but there’s a nice spot to sink a few cocktails during the warmer months and head inside because this is like a grown-up sweetie shop.
It’s got all the unpretentious, funky bar vibes of a London hangout – metro tiles and typographical mosaics, fun neon art, industrial details and comfy retro furniture, and the all-important booth. It’s warm, friendly, sociable and crucially for bars these days (for where we go, those men are bound to follow), female-friendly.
It all feels hip and groovy, but not at all alienating if you happen to be the wrong side of 40 – quite a feat to pull off, but there, owner Jamie Mattingley has done it. There’s lots of natural light in the bar during the day from large bar-front windows if you fancy a nifty swifty (or a coffee, obvs), and there are plenty of bar stools, tables and comfy chairs to snaffle for a longer stint. The ‘Sit & Sway’ live music evenings are really popular and more tasting events are on the cards. So keep your eyes peeled, I hear a cheese beer and wine pairing is on the cards.
Scoff & Quaff
The scoffing is not the main event here, so let’s prop up the bar and tackle the quaffing first. Sit & Sip is a relatively small space and the is stocked with artisan beers, wines, spirits and trendy softies. If you or your hipster other half is partial to boutique brew, then this is the place to be. They two taps serving Siren Brewery’s finest, brewed down the road in Finchampstead, or you can work your way through an ever-changing menu of IPAs, lagers, and ales. Basicallt, there no chance of beer boredom.
The cocktail list is kept deliberately short offering classics with a twist (but they take requests, so put the guys to the test). You’ll also see the Tapster’s Choice on the blackboard which is the special creation of one of the bar staff who each month battle it out to see who’s mixing is up to scratch.
My first drink was a gin and tonic (comfortingly predictable) and went for the recommended Tom Cat Cloudy Mango Gin. It’s made by a couple in Sussex and the distilling op there is so small, the team has to swing by their house to pick up a bottle. If they left the bottle and a bucket of tonic I would have happily drunk it all night.
Next up, a Winter Mojito. I’m a sucker for the classic, so this had stiff competition. The spicy dark rum with ginger beer and lime was actually quite nice. The cinnamon stick swimming in it was a no from me. That said, it came in a very priddy glass. It’s all about the details.
What about the food, I hear you cry? If you’re after the traditional three courses, you’ll have to undo more than a couple of your shirt buttons, to get down with this menu. It’s a strictly casual affair. Sharing platters and snacks are available with the same ethos as the drinkies – quality rules. I spy a wedge of Barkham Blue, Serrano ham, a beer stick (like Pepperami but much much much better) olives and cornichons and a ploughman’s chutney that is used instead of butter. What looks like a bowl of nuts, is in fact pretzels with a tomato and chilli rub.
It’s the kind of grazing menu that I love, perfect for a light lunch with the girls or rare date night drinkies with Mr M. Simple but with an emphasis on flavour and quality ingredients, just like the drinks. There’s something to tickle all tastebuds so if you get an attack of the munchies, order everything on the menu and you’ll be good for the long haul.
It’s worth noting Sit & Sip is the first bar in Berkshire to offer CBD infused coffee and sparkling drinks, and they’re hoping to add CBD-infused Espresso Martinis to the menu next month. CBD has zero psychoactive properties, but loads of health benefits. It’s one of the hottest trends right now, so I’ll be going back to try it out.
Um, er, well, yes and no. In the daytime, it’s quiet, as you’d expect, so you can easily come in here for a double G&T while your perplexed child looks at your glazed eyes and wonders where she put that number to social services. You can get a coffee here, of course, that’s probably a more sane idea, and it’s relaxed enough to do that with your children – plus there are baby changing facilities available. But, generally, no, leave the little people at home. Take your dog, though. There are pup treats available at the bar. Woof!
The Muddy verdict
Good for: Craft beer fans, after-work drinks, casual get-togethers and foodies who love provenance. It’s a cool hangout, so buckle up and book a taxi.
Bad for: If your hangry or wanting the full three courses. This is not a foodie destination, but a drinkie destination. Make a beeline for pre-dinner drinks.
££: Craft beers and small-batch spirits don’t come cheap, so expect to be spending £5+ for a pint and gin and tonics start at about £6.50. But nothing’s mass-produced. The food is great value for the quality with prices starting at £4ish for snacks to £15 for a sharing board.