A crowd-pleasing, cosy pub
The best known antidote to blizzard, gales and floods is a boozy lunch in a cosy pub. We know just the place – The Golden Ball,Pinkneys Green.
Tis true that here on Muddy we go a little weak at the knees for a good pub in a pretty village surrounded by cracking walks. So when I stumbled across The Golden Ball in Pinkneys Green, an old 16th Century inn, at lunch o’clock, we just had to try it out. *Dabs napkin*.
The village itself is a hidden gem. Situated near Maidenhead and Cookham, it is said to have been the old stomping ground of Dick Turpin and his band of dandy highwayman who would hide in the wooded Maidenhead thicket preying on wealthy travellers. Cue visions of knee-high boots and lots of thigh slapping. I digress.
The pub was bought by Henley-based Brakspear Pubs at the end of 2019 and has just completed a refurbishment. The outside has changed very little since it was last pimped up. The outside’s grey render makes it look quite modern but the inside has more charm and character than George Clooney.
The decor’s elegant, slightly eccentric, homely and is has all the style attributes of a place you’d want to be stranded should it snow, flood or the local taxi drivers are taking the same day off.
Sludgy green walls and ceilings, dark teal accents and William & Morris-style wallpaper, with velvet sofas and banquettes, mix and match antique chairs and one or two vintage surprises. It feels lived in and cosy but certainly not shabby.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The menu offers crowd-pleasing good pub grub. Nothing pretentious or too try-hard. You’ll also find sharing plates, burgers, and bangers and mash alongside mains like jerk chicken or pasta. Veggies and vegans aren’t spoilt for choice, but the dishes available feel indulgent. Whether you are enjoying a special meal, grabbing a sarnie after a bracing dog walk or grabbing a bite with the kids because you’ve failed to press send on the online shop, there’s something for everyone.
Drape your virtual napkin on your lap. Lunch is served. Carb abstainers look away. We started with warm bread and salt and pepper squid with aioli. The bread was a mahoosive. A full country cob, no less with oil and butter. The squid was tucked up in a small tiffin tin dressed with rocket. Both hit the spot on a dank day.
Turning up the heat for the mains, we ticked into a plate of king prawn and chorizo linguine and spatchcock jerk chicken with jalapeno slaw and chips. If you’re not a lover of chili, the linguine won’t be for you. But short of carrying a hot water bottle around me, it definitely turned up the heat. The jerk chicken was a nice twist on the traditional chicken and chips.
As for the pud. We shared an apple and pear frangipane slice and ate it before I remembered I should’ve snapped it. Oops. *Drops spoon*. No endorsement needed. It was lush, light and delicious.
OUT & ABOUT
Although it is probably hard to see at this time of the year, the outside area is really nice. I imagine The Golden Ball is buzzing in the summer months. The conservatory and terrace areas hint at balmy evenings spent drinking rosé wine with plenty of space for the tiddlers to do cartwheels.
The surrounding area is perfect for a dog walk with a number of long and short circuits through National Trust land – the hay meadows are particularly pretty in summer and there are 5 miles of footpaths to explore through Maidenhead Thicket. If you like to take a more leisurely approach, during the summer months you can enjoy a drink and watch the cricket being played at the historic Pinkneys Green ground right next door.
A walk would have been ideal after the meal we’ve eaten, but my jeans are so tight, I’m about to pass out. Timmmmmmber!
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: A nice spot if you need sustenance before/after a family walk. Great for an outing with the girls, family get-togethers or drinks after work.
Not for: If you’re after elevated gastropub food or an extensive wine list. This is a place for unpretentious eating and drinking.
££: It’s pretty reasonable. Starters are from £5; Mains from £10.95 and top out at £20.95 for a sirloin steak, puddings are around £5. Kids £6.95 for one course, £10.95 for three.
The Golden Ball, Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, SL6 6NW. Tel: 01628 580 212.