Sunday roast heaven at The Newbury
At long last! I finally made it to The Newbury a few weeks ago – the winner of Best Casual Dining in this year’s Muddy Stilettos Berkshire Awards. Pete Lumber the landlord and I had been trying to get a date sorted so I could come with the whole Muddy clan to enjoy the full family lunch experience, and the fact that I now weigh an extra half a stone probably tells you all you need to know. It was AWESOME!
Pete already runs a pub in Bristol where he’s originally from, and as it was such a success, he went looking for another opportunity, which he found in Newbury’s town centre. You’ll take a calming out breath as soon as you step into The Newbury – it’s exactly what a family-friendly gastropub should be, light and spacious, with big battered old pine tables, comfy sofas, and a nice friendly hubbub of noise so you know if the children get a little rowdy over a game of UNO, nobody is going to mind.
There are spaces to suit everyone, whether you’re a large family wanting an equally large table for a family get together, cosy corners for couples, high tables near the bar if you just want to pop in for a drink or bar snacks, and upstairs there’s a cocktail lounge and roof terrace for large parties or private dining, and they’ve even managed to squeeze in some outside seating (remember this is a town centre pub, don’t expect climbing frames and acres of lawn!).
We had the pleasure of eating with Pete’s mum Glenda, his girlfriend Laima and his daughter Ava – he loves getting people together – and it was a fun, chatty and totally relaxed lunch with the kids dipping into the food platters then running off to bother the chefs in the open kitchen: ‘WE WANT PUDDING! WE WANT PUDDING!’ ahh, bless ’em. Bet the chefs really loved their enthusiasm. How the kids didn’t end up being flambéed I’ll never know.
The food is quite simply, excellent. Muddy readers who voted, I salute you! You got it absolutely right with your winner. Pete had arranged for us to have the sharing board for Sunday lunch – £18 per head (puddings extra). So your platter arrives with a combination of all of the roasts of the day – ours were beef, pork and chicken – with loads of Yorkshires (don’t worry, there’s another bowlful of them to the side!) apple sauce, horseradish, bread sauce… the works.
Side dishes then start rolling in… roasties, broccoli and cauliflower cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping, buttered carrots, buttered kale – all of them cooked to absolute perfection and all the veggies just full of flavour.
Then the pudding board arrived – the children fell off their chairs (note the massive ‘thumbs up’ top right) and I think I may have heard a fanfare of trumpets – check it out!
The menu changes regularly depending on seasons or what’s fresh and tasty that week. We had from L to R: blackberry pannacotta, Guinness cake; passion fruit cheesecake, cherry clafoutis with custard, and boozy trifle. Extreme close up you say? By all means, voila!
I am not in the slightest bit ashamed to say, I tried… EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. So there. And they were all outstanding. Yes, I’ve had to buy an entire new wardrobe to accommodate my new pudding-esque silhouette, but it was worth it.
As well as the extremely popular Sunday lunches the pub gets it right in all other areas – light bites (around £4), open sandwiches (£7.50), all the classics done well – battered fish and chips, The Newbury burger, salads, and steaks and chops cooked in the charcoal oven. And plenty of ‘I fancy a change’ things too – from fillet of stone bass to slow cooked belly of lamb, you can be sure the ingredients are going to be amazing and the cooking spot on. Plus, everything is cooked on site including fresh bread, chutneys and even ice cream.
Chef Darren Booker-Wilson is at the helm, a hugely experienced chef who honed his skills working for Michelin-starred chefs, ran his own restaurant, worked at some local greats including The Vineyard at Stockcross and has totally nailed the ‘gourmet grazing’ concept at The Newbury. Under his helm the pub was named Michelin’s West Berkshire Gastropub 2015 and now of course, a Muddy Award to add to the trophy cabinet.
Naturally, the conversation largely revolved around food. Pete is from a big family but his mum brought them up on her own and his love of food is down to her. He remembers they always ate together on a Sunday his mum always managed to get a Sunday roast on the table no matter what. I had a quiet word, and she’s incredibly proud of what he’s achieved here.
Pete IS The Newbury really, if he isn’t here (and he pretty much lives here) it just wouldn’t be the same. He is an absolute perfectionist (and I don’t think he’d be too offended if I whispered ‘control freak’ very quietly, shhh!). He chooses his suppliers with great care because for him it’s all about the quality of ingredients. Many are local, including Two Cocks Farm and Hunter Gatherer in Newbury and Coopers in Thatcham and he can often by found riding around on a tractor with the farmer checking out the quality of his future purchases for the menu!
For the quality, passion and sheer hard graft that goes into The Newbury, it deserves all of its success, and is a well deserved winner of Muddy’s Best Casual Dining award. So pop in the next time you’re over in West Berks and give it your support, because there’s nothing ‘casual’ about the amount of effort that goes into a place like this.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: families, relaxed gatherings with friends, a pop in lunch or dinner if you want a superior meal without pretension. The Sunday lunches have an excellent reputation and this is a hard working pub open 7 days a week with all sorts going on from pizza on the terrace in the evenings to a new Bottomless Brunch for just £15 on the weekend.
Not for: families looking for all singing-all dancing outside areas – as you’d expect for a town centre pub, the outside space has just a few tables on a wooden decked area, we’re not talking kids play park here.
££: Pretty standard gastropub prices, but real value for money for the quality of food. Lunch salads and mains £8-£13, dinner mains £13-£19, desserts £6.50, pizzas £10, Sunday sharing boards £18 per head.
The Newbury, 137 Bartholomew Street, Newbury, West Berks RG14 5HB. Tel: 01635 49000. www.thenewburypub.co.uk