I thought that I would finally post a review of the restaurant that Mr B took me to for my birthday, oh so long ago!
So the restaurant I was treated to for my birthday was LSQ2 in Reading, recent winners of the Reading Restaurant of the Year 2010. I’ve been wanting to go since they set up shop on the Riverside sometime last year so had quite high expectations. My recent visit to Myalacarte has also slightly ruined me as I now hold everything up to their standards!
Obviously Monday night is not a good night to go to this restaurant if you’re looking for atmosphere as it was quiet – very quiet – but we were shown to a table immediately and divested of our coats. However we then were served by an apparently mute waiter who just handed us the menus and shuffled off. Now perhaps they have made the choice to have unobtrusive service and not have the waiting staff be too familiar or friendly. I can handle that but when I’m waited on with no interaction between me and the person doing it I end up feeling stuck up and I over compensate by saying thank you after every breath – I don’t want them to think I’m stuck up!
I got over this however and we ordered our food, once also getting over the confusion as the menu was half the size of the one of the website – the dreaded Christmas menu had taken over and only half their normal dishes were on offer. None of the one’s I’d fancied were on there anymore but I thought that the spring roll shots with the pork belly to follow sounded like a good substitute. Mr B had the Thai crab cakes and the venison Wellington.
So I sat sipping my Moscow Mule (hmmmm ginger beer!) whilst waiting for the starter which came very promptly. However I was dismayed to find that mine was three spring rolls sticking out of shot glasses…how was I going to eat this? Obviously the first bite of each was fine but as the glasses were so deep after that I couldn’t get to the sauce and the plate the waiter had given me was the size of a tea saucer. There’s me with this massive cutlery and teeny tiny plate – more than a little funny! Mr B’s crab cakes were lovely, though they were quite small and not the most generous of portions! All in all I enjoyed the spring rolls but there was nothing special about the filling and only one of the three dips was actually that nice.
At this point a table of millions of people…well about 10 were seated behind us for a Christmas party whereupon the atmosphere improved but became a little too loud and raucous unfortunately. You can’t have everything I suppose!
Onto the main course which also came out very promptly. However, upon touching my plate, I found that it was quite cold and all sticky underneath and round the edges with fingerprints Not too impressed but I decided to press on and took a bite of my pork belly – 40 chews later (it gets more every time I tell the story) I managed to swallow – man was it overcooked! I was left thinking that I could cook better pork belly – in fact I did at my pretend supper club! So I look over to Mr B hoping that he’s at least enjoying his to find that his venison has got up and run away…well slight exaggeration but, whilst he’s fond of rare meat, this was cold in the middle and actually blue!!!
So I decided that we had to complain, not something I’ve ever actually done to the extent that I ask for an entirely new dish but at over £15 per dish I really thought we should get something that’s at least cooked properly! So they took them back and said they would cook them again from scratch.
Meanwhile I sat and steamed for 10 minutes whilst poor Mr B tried to lighten the atmosphere – unsuccessfully I might add. I couldn’t understand why we weren’t even offered a free drink. Anyway I got over myself and stopped stropping and the main courses were brought back out.
Eureka! The plates were hot and clean, the pork belly was tender and melt in the mouth, Mr B’s venison was nicely pink whilst not still hopping around. Thank you, they got it right! Plus the manager offered us both a drink on the house and was HUGELY apologetic. At which point I felt really mean and felt I had to apologise to him. So I told him that it was wonderful the second time round and that it was just because it was my Birthday treat and I’d been so looking forward to it. To which he apologised another billion times! Wow, I felt mean!
I loved the pork and the skin was delicious, so caramelised and crisp but I couldn’t understand why there was soy sauce in the gravy and it was served with a prawn toast…?!? I just don’t get fusion food though, I always feel like it’s done for the sake of being ‘edgy’ rather than for the flavour. Excusing the excess of effort with lack of success it was really good and Mr B looked like a happy boy.
At this point there was NO room for pudding, I was wondering how I was going to waddle back to the car so no chance, we just asked for the bill. At which point they brought over the bill AND this…
What they lack in combinations of flavours they make up for in their gorgeous puddings! The four little bites were delicious and it was such a sweet thing for them to have done – completely making up for the problems. They were (I think) left to right – a dark chocolate ganache (really quality chocolate), a rocky road with hazelnuts, a chocolate coconuty thing and then a white chocolate parfait with raspberries. Delicious! The Happy Birthday was mango or passion fruit coulis and delicious too – thank you Mr Manager!
All in all I would go again, it’s nowhere near replacing Myalacarte as my favourite local restaurant though!