Fancy bunking off?
Looking for a charming family-friendly pub that's all about kicking back? Look no further, than The Bunk Inn, Curridge.
THE BUNK INN, CURRIDGE
You’ll find The Bunk Inn in the village of Curridge, about 10 minutes from Newbury and 5 minutes from the A34 and the M4 in West Berkshire. Curridge has spread out over the years, but The Bunk Inn is in the prettiest spot at the bottom of a long lane cocooned by fields and trees. It is a charming historic building with a some modern add ons and gets its name from the habit of local workers, mainly from the nearby brickworks, ‘bunking’ off work early for a drink (sounds familiar).
The pub gets a lot of local love, but the 10 stylish rooms draw business travellers during the week and escapees to the country at weekends who want to scoff, quaff and have a short stagger to bed. It’s a real community hub – and the beer garden is a major selling point. There are 2 levels – a patio overlooking paddocks and woodland, plus a lawned area for kids to run around while you sip a post-roast glass of red. When the sun comes out to play, the Sunday summer BBQs are pretty speech and the impressive grill is a tantalising reminder.
There’s lots of exposed brick, wooden beams, comfy upholstery, easy-on-the-eye splashes of grey and duck egg blue paint and mismatched chairs – shabby chic without being twee. Different zones cater for different moods: a nook at one end of the bar is for drinks in front of a open fire, down at the other end are tables for casual eats, plus there’s a separate side dining room for more formal meals. But it’s all pretty laidback.
There is always a pile of daily newspapers available to read, you’ll usually find an obedient dog at someone’s feet and you’re very much welcomed whether you are dropping in for a pint, coffee, quick sarnie or you’re planning on hitting 3 courses. The Bunk Inn is friendly, with make-yourself-at-home vibes.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The community feel continues on the menu, with local suppliers well supported. It’s a neat, seasonally changing menu, with pub classics done well (f&c, ribeye grilled just-so, pie of the day, cheeseburgers) alongside confident, more ambitious Modern British cooking.
I’m a sucker for a pub classic, but as my jeans are cutting in, I thought I’d give the chips a body swerve and opt for food with colour. I kicked off with the smoked beetroot tartare and crispy goats cheese ravioli. I mean, how pretty is this? And blinkin’ tasty too. Who knew smoked beetroot was oh so delicious. This was gone in 60 seconds. No sharing, so you can stop waving your fork at my plate Ma Muddy.
My mum, always a willing partner in crime, opted for mackerel paté. Portion sizes were good, nicely presented, lots of butter for the bread and brought out on a wooden board. It was a little disappointing that the bread was regular sliced brown. There’s nothing more indulgent than a crusty homemade loaf, but the paté was epic and the bread was just a way of shovelling it down.
Onto the main, sunshine on a plate – whisk me off to the coast because prawn and muscle linguine is my idea of heaven. Everything was cooked to perfection and, for me, I loved the fact it was not drowning in a sea of sauce. The balance of sauce to seafood and pasta was on the money. I am also in love with this plate.
Upham ale battered fish with triple cooked chips, also impressed. The Bunk is owned by the Upham Group who make their own award winning ales just over the border in Hampshire, served behind the bar, obvs, and present in the on-the-money pub classic. I hate mushy peas, so I’m totally on board with crushed. Is there a difference? Hell yes. Consistency is everything and if looks and feels like baby food, I’m not loving it.
Pud was a bit lame on my part. Sorry. There’s only so much gluttony a girl can endure. I chose a trio of ice cream and sorbet – raspberry and apricot and honey sorbet and a salted caramel ice cream. The sorbets, in particular, hit the spot. But the rice pudding and warm mini doughnut, has haunted me ever since. You’ll also find sticky toffee pudding and lemon tart trying to seduce you. Hard to resist.
OUT & ABOUT
If you fancy a woodland walk, there are many places to take a stroll nearby, perfect for dog walkers and anyone wanting to work up an appetite. Alternatively, enjoy a day at the races. Newbury Racecourse is just down the road and Highclere Castle, star of Downton Abbey, or Basildon Park used in the movie Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightly are all nearby.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Sunday lunchers, families, casual bar drinkers, dog-walkers and cosy sleepovers. Warm and welcoming, this is a place to kick back and relax. If you’re wanting a table at the weekend, book ahead. It gets v busy.
Not for: Formal this is not. No starchy table cloths and stuffy service. Informality rules. Drop in for a pint, a packet of peanuts and the paper. Bring your family and the dog. You’re all welcome.
££: Very reasonable for these parts. Starters and small plates in the £4-£9 range. Mains start at £12.50 for a sausage and mash, rising to £14 for my seafood linguine or £22.50 for a rib eye steak with triple cooked chips. Sandwiches and sharing plates are also available – because sometimes only a fish finger sarnie (£6) will do.
The Bunk Inn, Curridge, Berkshire RG18 9DS. Tel: 01635 200400.
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