Ping pong and pizzas at Smash, Reading
A quick bish-bosh-bash kinda post to tell you about Smash in Reading. And what better day to tell you than on National Table Tennis Day?! Don’t believe me do you, seriously it is! I couldn’t make that up. Anyway, I actually popped along to the opening a while ago, but I often like to give new places a little time to bed in before I shout about them on the blog.
Smash is straight up super fun. Definitely aimed at the younger market (I’m pretty sure ‘knackered mother of two in her forties’ wasn’t their target demographic, although I felt totally at ease and would definitely come back) and obviously this isn’t somewhere for a quiet meal or catch up with the girls over a few glasses of wine, but it is unique and heaps of fun, and we’re all about that here at Muddy!
Smash is a sports bar with a twist, and that twist is ping pong. Definitely appealing to my competitive streak, the idea behind the brand is bringing ping pong into focus as the sport to play whilst socialising. I’ll admit it rates a lot higher on the cool-ometer than cribbage or bar skittles.
If you’ve ever been to Sakura you’ll recognise it straight away because Smash has taken over that space and Sakura has moved upstairs. When you walk in there are two tiers – the top tier has a long bar on the left and relaxed seating with sofas and high tables and stools, it’s also a little bit quieter on this top level. You then you go down some steps to the lower tier where there are several ping pong tables, another bar and more tables and seating around the sides.
There’s a DJ tucked away in a booth to the right and the music is definitely night club vibe – loud and buzzy. I really liked the decor, all very laid back with exposed brickwork, and that industrial feel. There are lots of cool design touches like the scoring cards behind the bar and lots of clever use of neon lighting and ping-pong balls (everywhere). Speaking of ping-pong balls, spare a thought for this poor guy…
…not the best job to have! Although it did seem like the staff shared this job out and everyone ended up being ‘Chief Ping Pong Collector’ at some point during the evening. And you really do have to watch out – ping pong balls are literally flying around the room (not everyone is as good a player as they like to think!). Twice I had to fish one out of my cocktail!Speaking of drinks (because one cannot live on ping-pong alone) Smash has over 40 bottled craft beers and ciders, and a good cocktail selection. Although the bar staff were a little flummoxed over the cocktails – the bar tender who served me took a long time to make one of the cocktails from the menu, working from the recipe, but this was opening night to be fair, so I expect things like that to be ironed out by now.
Food wise the menu is all about artisan pizzas. So it’s limited, but if you’re going to do something simple, do it well. And they do. The pizzas are really good and reasonable at around £10 for a 12-inch. All handmade from base to sauce on site with fresh dough bases and good quality toppings. They even do sweet pizzas for pudding – Nutella and banana anyone?!
Apart from the ping-pong, Smash also hosts regular DJs, live music, and will show live sport events (there are TV screens dotted around on all the walls). The four Olympic standard ping pong tables are available to pre-book but you can also just drop-in and play.
I’d say it’s the perfect place to come with a group of friends on a Saturday night just to do something a bit different than the norm, or somewhere to come with your partner to remind yourselves what it’s like to be young again! It reminded me and Mr Muddy Berks of our uni days (though we’ve moved on from snake bite and black *shudder*). I also think it’ll be a huge hit with Reading’s after work crowd. I can see Mr Muddy popping down here with some of the boys as an alternative to poker night… It is ON, like ping pong!
Smash, 5 Gun Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 2JR. www.smashbars.co.uk