The Greyhound: a pub oozing with foodie cred
What do you get when you combine a gorgeous Berkshire location, top notch chef and amazing British produce? Answer: a pub worth going out of your way for.
New pub alert! We’re suckers for a triple cooked chip, so when The Greyhound Finchampstead opened this summer, we were round there faster than you could say “pass the ketchup’. Why all the excitement? Well it’s the newest addition from Brucan Pubs – fast gaining a reputation for top notch gastropubs, including the Michelin-rated Greene Oak in Windsor and The Drumming Snipe in Mayford. The main difference with this one is that it also has a foodie village shop, Goswell & Bird’s.
This boutique pub group is own by pals James Lyon Shaw and Jamie Dobbin who met while working in the kitchens of London’s celeb haunt The Ivy. The pair have an impressive CV. Jamie is the former head chef at The Ivy’s members-only restaurant The Club, as well as working at several of London’s top hotels, while James is the former head chef of a number of trendy London restaurants including Bistroteque and The Well. To be fair, you can spot some of that Ivy DNA (indulgent fuss-free classics, quality ingredients and seasonality) in their eateries – and we are here for it.
Buzzy and laidback. We arrived on a sunny Saturday for a late lunch. The red brick Victorian building swathed in colourful in hanging basket blooms gives a good first impression and inside doesn’t disappoint either. There’s a large bar area for drinkers and plenty of well-behaved dogs sleeping at their owners’ feet. The dining area is stylishly understated, with lots of of textures which pop from the Farrow & Ball pallette.
Large sections of wall are clad in wine racks illuminated by LED lights, creating a cool interior feature. You’ll also find exposed brick and the wall of silver pots and bottles looked stunning framed by a blue-black paint. Although not as quirky as The Greene Oak, seek and you will find a decorative oriental bowl sink in the loo with an old Hendricks gin bottle pumping out soap. Outside there are five heated wagons for year-round outdoor dining. I’d love to see who’s brave enough in December. It’s not a massive garden, but if you’ve got kids who can’t sit still (*raises hand), it’s an option.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Fuss-free indulgent gastropub classics – these guys know how to get flavour from the seasonal ingredients they’re using. *drooooool*. You’ll find a superb selection of fish (fresh from Brixham) and meat dishes (including local game) – and the veggie options are a damn sight more thoughtful that a veggie burger. Loving the sound of chargrilled broccoli, pickled fennel and mustard leaf salad, pea humus, cracked wheat and walnuts.
If you’re offered the wine menu, take it. There’s a beautifully curated selection of wines, fine wines (available by the bottle and glass) and a 13 English wines. The Shoreline dry white from Lyme Bay was crisp, refreshing and delicious.
Hungry? Tuck in your napkin, we’re going in. Kicking off this culinary adventure, I chose the Brixham King scallops, burnt butter cauliflower and caviar (£13.50), Mr M had chose the six Porthilly rock oysters, with shallot dressing (£12) and exclusive to The Greyhound. The scallops were beautifully cooked – sweet and plump, the rich saltiness from the caviar was nice, but the humble cauli totally transformed this dish. Anyone who thinks cauliflower is tasteless, boring vegetable has just got stop boiling it and here. Amazing.
The presentation of the oysters was stunning and judging by the appreciative noises opposite me, totally worth ordering. Loved the oysters. Loved the shallot dressing and the samphire. I can’t stand the texture, so I can only take his word for it. I think you can trust him though, it wasn’t his first rodeo.
For our main we chose another Greyhound exclusive and it’s fast becoming its signature dish – the Beef Wellington for two with creamed kale, beef fat potatoes and bone marrow gravy (£55). The meat melts in your mouth and, when it came to the pastry, there was not a soggy bottom in sight. This is a party on the plate – and the gravy deserved a Meg Ryan When Harry Met Sally moment all to itself. Yes yes YES! It was that good.
What about kids? Bring them along. The Greyhound offers a simple menu for your ‘Little Hunters’ – freshly made fish fingers, chicken goujons, meatballs and a burger that all come with chips and veg (£7). They’ll also half portions of any dish on the menu if you have offspring with a more sophisticated palette than mine. There’s also a mini Sunday roast (£8) and ice creams and puds. It’s safe to say they know their audience.
Did we have room for pud? Of course we did – although some went in harder than others. My foodie partner in crime ate the Salted caramel and chocolate tart, my foodie in training chose a Brownie with ice cream and I head down the liquid route and rounded proceedings off with a Pornstar Martini. Why have I never swapped crumble for a cocktail before? Nails the sweet craving, tastes amazing and is just more fun. Heavenly.
Gushing! I know. But there was one dish that didn’t hit the spot – the Deep Fried Pickles with Stilton Dip. The larger bits of pickle were just a slimy inside for my liking, the smaller pieces were quite nice and I didn’t get the stilton flavour from the dip. But
ADD TO BASKET
The Greyhound has its very own village shop – but it is anything but ordinary. Goswell & Bird’s is a foodie paradise selling top notch British ingredients and we saw some Muddy’s fave local products in their too. It’s feels a bit like you’re plundering chef’s larder because the shop and pub use many of the same suppliers.
Start the day the right way with a decent cuppa and freshly baked pastry, or grab a pint of milk (old school style with a creamy top), fresh bread, fruit and veg. They also offer the most incredible selection of cheeses and cured meats from artisan producers around the UK. The Sussex Chorizo and Dorset Air Dried Beef are exceptional. You’ll also find local beers, wines and gins. The meat is from swish butcher Turner & George. It’s not cheap, so perhaps don’t do your weekly shop. But for those special treats, this is the culinary equivalent of Top of The Pops.
OUT & ABOUT
Finchampstead is on the outskirts of Wokingham and Crowthorne. If you’re in the area work up an appetite with a stroll around Finchampstead Ridges. It’s been in the National Trust family for over 100 years. Head to Simon’s Wood and walk the avenue of redwood Sequoia trees (also known as Wellingtonia trees), planted in 1863, see if you can spot the second century Roman Road, nicknamed the Devil’s Highway and Heat’s Pond is a pretty spot at this time of the year – view the trails here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone who loves good food or has taste buds. Whether you’re enjoying a date night, family lunch or relaxed meal with friends, you cannot go wrong here – the food is delicious.
Not for: If you’re a dedicated follower of foodie fashion, then you’re not going to find frills, foams or deconstructed dishes to challenge you. Equally, you might struggle if you need room outdoors for your Duracell bunnies to roam.
The damage: Very good for food of this quality. The set menu is £18 for two courses or £21 for three, available Monday to Friday. Starters are from £6, Mains are from £14, Puds are £6 and sides are £4 each. It’s on a par with the county’s gastropub greats. They’re even doing a three-course Festive Menu throughout December for £32pp, which I think is seriously good value.
The Greyhound, Longwater Rd, Finchampstead, Wokingham RG40 3TS. Tel 0118 216 1334