Muddy eats: The Shurlock Inn, nr Hurst
I hit this little gem with the family in tow a couple of months ago now, so forgive me if the details are a bit fuzzy (and I wasn’t even drinking, honest guv!). I’ve been saving The Shurlock Inn to share with you over half term, as it’s such a brilliant family pub, I thought it would be perfect if you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids, or meet up with the grandparents, friends etc. It’s also just won a local award for family pub of the year, so it could be worthy of your attention for a Muddy Awards nomination in May (yes, I have all that to come – pass me the gin!)
Off the bat I should say The Shurlock Inn is not a styled-within-an-inch-of-its-life gastropub by any stretch. It’s cosy comfort food in very pleasant and simply furnished surroundings. The day we visited for a late lunch there were lots of families and couples, and a large table of about 10 people at the back enjoying a birthday celebration spanning the generations. It has a really lovely atmosphere, which could be down to the fact that since 2009 when it faced closure, it’s been owned and run by local residents.
The village of Shurlock Row is handy for a meet-up with scattered friends as it sits just north of the M4 and is flanked on all sides by some of the larger towns – Reading, Bracknell, Wokingham, Maidenhead, Slough. It’s also just a 10 minute drive from Dinton Pastures where you can enjoy a lovely walk around the lakes to work up an appetite. You’ll burn some serious calories fighting off the resident geese – they should come with a health warning, the little *&^%*! (insert swear word of choice).
Service was very warm and friendly and our food all arrived quickly, although it’s all cooked to order so we were warned to not be in a rush. I had deep fried butterfly prawns with mixed leaves and garlic mayo to start (£6.50) all perfectly tasty, and Mr P had the smoked mackerel pate which was simple as you can see by the pic, but well made and Mr P scoffed the lot.
I had the roast pork for my main – the Sunday Roasts are really popular – and it was hearty with a delicious homemade apple sauce and plenty of flavoursome pork (locally sourced, as much of the food is). Mr P tried his usual benchmark – fish and chips which he was delighted with. The batter was absolutely spot on, light and not too greasy, and there were generous servings of posh mushy peas and tartar sauce.
The kids’ menu is especially worth a mention – I’ve never seen kids catered for so well in a pub in terms of choice. I’m all for the kind of pubs that say boldly they don’t do a kids’ menu, kids should eat what adults eat blah-di-blah good for you. But quite frankly those places also send me into a blind panic. My children are practically walking chicken goujons they’ve eaten so many and I’ve learnt to accept that’s just the way life is. One day I’m sure one of them will say, ‘Mother dearest please oh please let me have the last Kalamata olive’ but I’m still waiting.
So in the meantime, they were over the moon to find goujons, spaghetti bolognese, pizza, burgers, hot dogs and even… Ta DAH! Let’s hear it for our: Sausage of the Week! There are even ‘Under 3s’ and ‘Over 3s’ choices with prices around £4.45 and £5.50 respectively. All the usual suspects are here so you’d be hard pushed not to find something. And on Sundays all the main roasts (£12.95) have a smaller child’s portion for £7.95. The mudlets had goujons (quelle surprise) and spag bol, and cleaned their plates.
Puddings were also a triumph – see evidence A and B below – a warm brownie and sticky toffee (both £6.50) which Mr P said was better than his mum’s – really hope she’s not reading this.
I’ve saved the best till last though, because the outside space is fab. My photos don’t do it justice, but there is a lovely spacious children’s play area with practically one Wendy house per child, swings, play equipment and a brilliant climbing tree bang in the middle. Despite freezing temperatures my two insisted on playing out there for ages (burn off that energy my little cherubs!). There’s also loads of outside seating and I spotted a BBQ menu on the chalk board obviously a throw back from when the weather was more kind. It would be a great place to come in the summer. Add it to the list, and as always let me know if you visit and what you thought.
Good for: families, casual diners, drop-ins, snackers (they do tapas plates at the bar) anyone looking for unpretentious old-fashioned local pub grub. Those with young children who can make the most of the play area. Dog walkers – well-behaved pooches are welcome in the bar area.
Not for: gourmands, stylised gastropub fans.
£££: Very reasonable, most starters £6-9, mains £10-15, kids’ mains £5-6, bar snacks (tapas) £5 per dish, Sunday roasts – adults £12.95, kids £7.95.
The Shurlock Inn, The Street, Shurlock Row, Berks RG10 0PS. Tel: 0118 9349094. www.shurlockinn.com