Muddy eats: The Golden Ball Pinkneys Green
Tis true that here on Muddy we go a little weak at the knees for a good gastropub in a pretty village surrounded by cracking walks. So when I stumbled across The Golden Ball in Pinkneys Green, an old 16th Century inn, I did it a little dance.
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 the wooded Maidenhead thicket preying on wealthy travellers. Cue visions of knee-high boots and lots of thigh slapping. I digress.
Ma Muddy and I arrived on a dull Friday afternoon. It was pretty quiet at first, but boy did it fill up quickly. Yes it was pay day weekend, it was also National Chocolate Cake Day (when did that become a thing?), but I was also hoping it was a sign of something yummy to come. I regretted the skinny jeans instantly. As you know, reviewing pubs is a sacrifice I make for you all – hey, that’s just they way I roll (sometimes literally).
Having enjoyed a facelift in recent times, The Golden Ball’s old brick facade with new grey render make the building look quite modern. I feared a lack of charm and character inside, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact the old meets new vibes are what makes this place special.
The interiors are a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit English eccentric – dark walls, velvet sofas and banquettes (I love a banquette), antique tables and chairs, old bevelled mirrors, mounted stags head and a cool mix of contemporary art, photography and Victorian-style prints. It creates a warm, welcoming space that is inviting for both drinkers and diners alike. Everyone is welcome.
The food is varied – largely British pub classics, refined with a contemporary twist. You’ll also find sharing plates, pizzas and a good selection of sandwiches and burgers. 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, everyone will leave stuffed and happy.
I dived into the menu with a crab cocktail with Bloody Mary salsa to start. A little teaser for this week’s new menu. Ma Muddy had duck liver paté with apple chutney and rye crisps. Then we tucked into corn-fed chicken breast with potato and bacon terrine, root vegetables and thyme jus and the pie of the day – chicken and ham – served with buttery mash and winter veg. We shared a pud (we’re greedy, but there are limits) the Golden Ball triple chocolate cake, hazelnut praline, chocolate sauce and milk chocolate ice cream. The portions are generous, but the dessert was enormous. Even sharing was a challenge.
A special shout out for the exceptional service too. Customers were looked after by the wonderful Holly and Olly during our visit (you don’t have to have a name ending in ‘-lly’ but it definitely helps) and they could not have been more fantastic. They helped with the menu, made fab recommendations and we wanted for nothing – apart from a lie down.
Although it is probably hard to see from the image below, the outside area is lush. 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’s 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 girls or date night.
Not for: Traditionalists looking for a ploughman’s and a pint.
££: It’s on the upper end of reasonable but the quality and service are worth it. Mains from £13, starters and desserts around £5.
The Golden Ball, Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, SL6 6NW. Tel: 01628 580 212. thegoldenballpub.com