Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The George, Winnersh, Reading | Food Poisoning?

The George is a Chef & Brewer pub situated on the riverside in Winnersh, Reading. It used to be an adorable little venue with lots of British character and lovely staff. I had my graduation dinner there back in 2011 and to this day I remember exactly what I had: a trio of mini British pies with butter mash potato and fresh vegetables. It was delicious.

We decided to visit The George last night at around 6pm. It was near enough empty except for a few old couples at the back. We were seated at the back of the restaurant at a table overlooking the river which was lovely. We ordered a couple of Appletizers. Service was pretty slow but we weren't in a rush so we didn't really mind waiting for menus and drinks etc. However, the meal itself was a hugely disappointing experience.

I ordered the Farmhouse Pate. It was a bit sad looking. The pate itself was fine but definitely not fresh and had obviously come from a packet. On the menu, the pate is served with "toasted bloomer". A bloomer, according to Wikipedia, is a crusty loaf with rounded ends, and typically with several parallel diagonal slashes across its top. I have been generous enough to illustrate a bloomer below...

This is not what I was served. I was served one piece of toast (like, '20p a loaf from Tesco bread' toast) that was miraculously both burned and cold. It came with a slab of butter. The last time I visited The George the pate was served with melba toast which is delicious. This starter was like something my little brother had created in food tech class because he had been asked to.

The main course was a completely new kind of disappointment. I had the Brewers Chicken and asked for it with no melted cheese on top. The Brewers Chicken is one of the dishes that they most highly recommend both in the venue and on the website. The below screenshot is taken from the Chef & Brewer site itself. I totally understand why they recommend it so highly- they've barely got to microwave it for 4 minutes and chuck it on a plate in order to get it out to the dining room. I imagine the chef hardly had to look away from his daily newspaper in order to get my meal plated up.

The chicken was vile. It was rubbery and completely tasteless. It has a consistency that I would liken to halloumi cheese. It was cold and depressing. I will eat my entire shoe collection if that chicken came fresh off the birds bone rather than out of a sad little "boil in a bag" that had been sat in a drawer in a Brakes lorry for a few days. The chips that came alongside the chicken were actually quite nice. The weird mayonnaise drizzled coleslaw salad thing on my plate was not. 

Nobody asked me if my meal was okay throughout dinner. When my husband finished his meal the waiter asked if there was a problem with the chicken because I had eaten barely any of it. I explained how I felt and he said that he would get a manager for me to talk to which was great. Unfortunately, a manager never materialized. Instead, he came back 5 minutes later and told me that I wouldn't be charged for the meal. I was pleased with the gesture, although wondered why the manager didn't want to hear about the poor food that the kitchen was pumping out. We were never offered more drinks despite being in the restaurant for over an hour, and by the end of the meal I couldn't wait to get out of there. 

The saga of "Our Meal at The George" didn't end when we left the venue. Instead, I spent all night sat on the end of my bed surfing through waves of stomach pain and sickness. I've never felt as ill as I did last night after visiting what I thought was a pretty safe bet for a tasty evening meal. I'd really like to understand whether Chef & Brewer has always owned the pub, or whether they purchased it a few years ago? I can't understand how a venue that served such fresh and delicious British gastro food now serves food that isn't even on a par with a Harvester. 

I would strongly advise you to stay away from The George. The recent TripAdvisor reviews are terrible and I can reinforce every single one of them. Save your money and head to a Harvester, it will be cheaper and you'll get a free salad bowl and a smile instead of food poisoning.

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