Reading has a lot of places to eat: from the lowliest café to the fanciest fine dining, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the huge range of choices we have here in our little town. And in that mix we’re swamped with chains offering an identical experience in Reading to the one you’d have in Reigate, Ripon or Rugby. Of course, there is something comforting about knowing that every Wagamama does yaki soba in the same way or that the bread at Jamie’s will be the same as when you tried it last on a shopping day somewhere else. But Reading is so much more than chains.
Step away from the Oracle and you’ll find the tiny independent café that bakes its own cakes on the premises and remembers how its regular customers like their coffee. Or the Italian restaurant where the chef makes his pasta fresh in the window every day. But how can you pick out these gems from the breakfast place that doesn’t know how to cook eggs or the pie restaurant that microwaves its food?
Tripadvisor is the most common solution to this problem and it does have a wealth of information. What is harder to tell is whether the reviewers are honest (a problem that Tripadvisor struggles to solve) and whether the people writing those reviews rate the sort of restaurants as you. A further complication is that “restaurant” is an extremely broad term on Tripadvisor – for instance the current top ten restaurants in Reading are in fact five restaurants and five cafés. It makes choosing somewhere to eat a bit trickier. Also, plenty of places know that Tripadvisor is important and will hand you a business card at the end of your meal asking you to do a review. Others are good at mobilising support from regular customers which means those 5 star reviews don’t necessarily reflect the experience the average customer gets.
So who can you trust?
This is where I step in. I started Edible Reading in the summer of 2013 after seeing a gap in the market. I don’t claim to be an expert – I’m not sure I’d trust anyone who says they are – but I eat out fairly often, I love food and, most importantly, when the bill comes at the end of the meal it’s my cash that I’m parting with. This gives me the freedom to be completely honest, good or bad. I’ve also reviewed plenty of places that you may have already tried so you can see if you agree with me and check whether my review lines up with your experience to know if you can trust me. Simple, right?
Also, the vast majority of my reviews are places requested or recommended by you, my readers. If you want to see the places I’ve already reviewed, they’re here (in alphabetical order) or here (in order of the rating I’ve given them). And if you want to see the list of places I’ve been asked to review – and you can leave a comment if you want me to add somewhere to the list – it’s here. I’ll consider anywhere, provided it’s close enough to Reading and it’s not a chain restaurant (unless there’s a particularly good reason to go there).
What you can expect here is weekly, unbiased reviews of all kinds of restaurants in and around Reading – every Friday morning at 11.30am (just in time to get you hungry for the weekend, hopefully!) All comments and debate are encouraged, here, on the Twitter feed (@EdibleReading, of course) or on the Edible Reading Facebook page. Or you can send me an email (EdibleReading@gmail.com). So if you have any recommendations, or simply want to know about places you’ve always thought about going to but aren’t sure about, please get involved!