Your resident nosey parker reporting for duty, with all the latest, hottest goings on across the 'shire. Reeeeeeead all about it!!
We’re in the middle of awards season and it’s not just Hollywood luvvies walking the red carpet. The world’s most distinguished gin distillers were battling it out this week and Berkshire’s finest took gold not once but three times. Congratulations to Lumber’s Bartholomew Gin, distilled in The Newbury Pub in Newbury, who took Gold for its Navy Strength and Berkshire Dry Gins and to Johnny Neill whose Mary-Le-Bone Orange and Geranium gin won gold for Best English Flavoured Gin. Make Ditch Dry January, and make mine a double.
Veganuary is officially taking over every restaurant, with every man and his dog launching a new vegan menu. If you’re after something slightly more refined than, uh, cooked watermelon, then L’Ortolan – Reading’s only Michelin starred restaurant – is offering a Vegan Gourman menu, with creamy mushroom risotto and coconut pannacotta to tickle your tastebuds. The taster menu costs £79 and can be paired with a delicious selection of vegan wines. Cliveden House is also offering a 7-course vegan tasting menu. Plant-based and posh, the only way to do Veganuary, in our opinion.
A brand new Japanese restaurant opened on Reading’s Riverside this week. Osaka will be serving food that’s “inspired from the streets of Japan” – so expect to see oodles of noodles, sushi, ramen and Katsu curry. Independents in this part of town are pretty rare, so it’s great to see something brand spanking new that offers something a bit vibe. I think you’ll love the interiors – simple, natural wood and a sassy bit of wall art. The restaurant is open Sun-Mon, 11am-11pm and Fri- Sat from 11am-11.30pm.
Over in Ascot, we sadly lost the Ascot Grill at the end of 2019, but rumour has it, a Spanish tapas restaurant will take its place. Watch this place, we’ll be pressing our noses against the windows over the next few weeks. The new restaurant is due to open in February.
Berkshire’s ‘excellent’ adventures
Top marks for Pangbourne College and Reading Blue Coat, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has rated both of these Berkshire senior schools ‘Excellent’ across the board. The inspectors were bowled over by the pupils’ academic achievements and felt the quality of their personal development was exceptional. Both schools have a fantastic rep for producing well-rounded kids, but now they have the official stamp of approval. Pangbourne College is a co-ed school for ages 11-18 and Reading Blue Coat accepts boys from 11-18 and girls aged 16-18. Keep your eyes peeled on Muddy for Open Days, and book in – these two are going to be very popular.
Eco luxe sleepover
From abandoning fast fashion and embracing plastic free, sustainability is one of 2020’s hottest trends. Wearing their eco-credentials like a badge of honour, InterContinental Hotel Group has rebranded and fully refurbished its Reading hotel (at the Madjeski Stadium) into its Voco collection – one of nine hotels where the bedding is made of recycled materials and aerated showers have been installed to reduce water usage. Polish your halo and get in some mindful zzzzz.