By Ruby frost
Reading town centre is not often associated with fine dining or exclusive cocktail bars – The Corn Stores, however, is an exception.
Located in a Grade II listed building on Forbury Road, this Victorian establishment was once used for storing corn, and was then a pub which had long been forgotten about.
It stood derelict for years before being lovingly restored by Rarebreed Dining Group, who also own The Plough Inn in Surrey and Berkshire’s Shurlock Inn.
Now it boasts three floors of stylish rooms including a bar, restaurant and private members lounge. Here’s what happened when we popped in for a meal.
We visit on a Thursday night and the friendly staff show us to our table on the second floor.
The restaurant is pretty with colourful chairs, which are a mix of tables and booth seating. It also has an industrial feel with exposed brickwork and wooden floors. In the evening it is subtly lit by candles and a few lamps.
As we walk, we go past fridges housing huge cuts of meats – the signature dish here is steak which they dry-age themselves.
Although steak is still very much part of the menu, The Corn Stores has since branched out into fine dining dishes using the finest seasonal British ingredients.
While my friend is a meat eater, I was pleasantly surprised when I was handed an entire vegan menu, which starts from £35 for two courses. This was great for me as there were lots more things I could order.
We started with a bottle of Chenin Blanc, which we were allowed to taste before to ensure it was the right temperature for us – a nice touch from our waiter.
And before our first courses even came out, we were treated to complimentary appetisers.
This included sourdough for us both, a fried pickle with garlic as the vegan option and a pulled pork style meat dish.
My first course was simple but delicious. Hen of the Woods, Onion and Wild Garlic. For those that don’t know, Hen of the Woods is a type of mushroom.
My friend ordered Line Caught Cod, BBQ Leek and Granny Smith to start. This choice was made purely out of intrigue at the thought of fish and apple being served together, but he confirms it is a winning pairing.
Mains were Slow Cooked Hispi Cabbage with Grilled Onion and Truffle, and Windsor Estate Venison. It was my friend’s first time trying venison and he said it was melt in your mouth.
Instead of a dessert, I opted for a second starter which was Salt Baked Celeriac with Pickled Seaweed. It’s an acquired taste, for sure, but I would definitely order it again.
My friend finished the meal with a Roast Apple Tart and Ice Cream. I would have ordered the Raspberries, Beetroot and Pinecone Syrup if I’d had any room to fit anything else in.
We rounded off the evening with a couple of cocktails. I had the 10 Forbury Road, which is gin, strawberry infused vermouth, cucumber syrup and lemon. I’m not always the biggest fan of gin, but the strawberry flavour was amazing.
We also tried The Evolutionist, which consisted of both dark rum and coconut rum, pineapple shrub and orange. This was good, but more intense and bitter.
With such a lack of fine dining restaurants in Reading, The Corn Stores is definitely where to head for a special occasion or if you’re trying to impress a date, even if you just pop in for a drink at the bar.
Fancy something a little different? Head Chef Liam Sweeney will put together a bespoke menu for you.
Best for: Cocktails, special occasions, private dining, Member’s Lounge
The Corn Stores, at 10 Forbury Road, Reading, is open 11am-11pm Wednesdays and Thursdays and 11am-midnight Fridays and Saturdays
Prices start at £45pp for a three course meal. Cocktails are from £9.50
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