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Every Valentines Day, I treat my fiancée to dinner somewhere special. Our previous Valentines dinner had been spent in the Nawab, a fantastic Indian restaurant in Newbury, where we both had a Chicken Madras... it was going to be a hard one to beat. However, I believed that if anything could beat it, it would be The Angel in Berkshire, which I had heard good things about. We had heard that The Angel was quite an expensive venue; however, the price was justified by the quantity and quality of the food. Based in Woolhampton, which is a tiny town based in between Newbury and Reading accessible via the A4 road, The Angel is ideally located for dinner-goers from both towns and the other small towns in between. Address and details ============== Bath Rd Woolhampton, Reading, RG7 5RT Tel: 0118 971 3307 Website: www.thea4angel.com Open Times : Lunch 12.00 - 3.00pm Mon-Sat (6.00pm Sun) Dinner 6.00 - 11.00pm Mon-Sat Decor ==== When you walk through the main door, you are directly in front of the bar. Very dark colours dominate the decor, with stripped floors and open fires which give a warm, homely and traditional feel. To the right is the main seating area for people to eat, which is segregated into two parts, both parts having around 6 tables each. 5 of the 6 tables seat two people, and the other to seat four. To the left is a small seating area for people having a drink, the toilets and another, what looks like a hidden, dining area. This dining area looks more like a restaurant, whereas the seating area to the right of the bar looks like you'd see in a pub. The toilets were dimly lit and most of the decor was wooden, but it gave a colder feel than the rest of The Angel. Surprisingly, for Valentines Night, The Angel was deserted. We were the first couple to sit at the table for dinner, which for 7pm, seemed ambiguous. The seating area was dimly lit, and each table had a lit candle, along with the appropriate cutlery for a three course meal - two forks on the left of where the plate would be, two knives to the right, and a fork and spoon above where the plate would sit for dessert. Atmosphere ======== Music played in the background; however, it was fairly loud - which was not desirable given that the occasion warranted more subtle tones. Although the playlist consisted wholly of love songs, some seemed inappropriate for such an ambient, romantic setting. As you can imagine, hearing 'Beep' by the Pussycat Dolls playing fairly loudly disturbs the mood when you want to relax and chat about things. The volume drowned out the surrounding chatter from other tables, but as the evening progressed more people entered The Angel for dinner. Predominantly, most of the customers were affable and well-dressed, with just a couple who did not make much effort. Menu ==== Starters ---------- Olives Mexicana (three olives in spicy chilli based marinade) - £3.95 Homemade herby garlic bread with cheese and chives - £4.95 Salad of Parma Ham with fresh figs and Dolce Latte cheese - £5.95 Chefs Homemade Soup of the Day served with garlic and herb crustiness - £4.95 Warm salad of chorizo sausage, black pudding and poached egg - £5.95 Glazed French goats cheese on a bed of apple and walnut salad - £5.50 Main Courses ----------------- Supreme of Chicken stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in Parma ham, with rissole potatoes - £14.95 Seared Tuna Steak, on a bed of vine roasted tomatoes and lime roasted potatoes £13.95 Green Lipped Mussels in a classic French Wine, cream, shallot sauce with rustic chips - £13.95 Honey roasted Gressingam Duck Breast with spiced red Cabbage, Pan fried new potatoes and red wine jus - £15.50 Tiger Prawns pan-fried with linguini, tomatoes, chilli and garlic - £12.95 Rustic puff pastry tarlet with goats cheese, caramelised onions, roasted vegetables and a side salad - £8.95 The Angel Home made prime Aberdeen Angus burger 8oz, served on a rustique bun with cheese, garlic mayo, relish, onion, gherkin and rustic chips - £10.95 14oz Rib Eye Steak on the bone with Rustic chips and salad garish - £16.95 Lamb Shanks with new potatoes - £14.95 Cod fillet in a crispy batter with rustic chips and salad garnish - £12.95 Desserts ----------- Italian Tiramisu cake - £4.95 White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake with rasberry coulis - £5.50 Warm Chocolate fondant with vanilla pod ice cream - £6.50 Stick Toffee pudding with Baileys custard- £5.95 French apple tart with vanilla pod ice cream - £5.95 Premium selection of Cheese and biscuit board - £6.595 The food ====== We skipped the starter and ordered our main courses. I opted for the 14oz Steak (well done) with chips, while my fiancée had the Lamb Shanks with new potatoes. After placing the order, we had only to wait for roughly seven minutes before the dinner arrived in front of us. The presentation of the food on the plate had obviously not had much thought put into it. Granted that it is not the most glamorous of meals but even still, my mother would have served it better. A medium sized portion of chips was placed at the bottom of the plate, salad scattered in the top left and two pieces of steak on the top right. The steak was very well done and it tasted good. The rustic chips had a salty flavour to them, but they were just right. Having finished the plate, I was satisfied by what I had eaten. Although I am no expert, I do not think the food was any more special than what you would get in Wetherspoons in a two for £5.99 deal. After we finished our meals, we decided to share a dessert. After looking through the selection, we decided we were in the mood for the delicious sounding Sticky toffee pudding and baileys custard. The wait, again, was very short - we waited just over five minutes and it was served in front of us. The presentation was somewhat better for this course, the toffee pudding was millimetres from a ceramic bowl that contained the custard, and both were placed in the centre of the plate, with a sliced strawberry on the side to pacify the flavour. The sticky toffee pudding was warm and covered in toffee sauce. It virtually melted on your tongue and the sweetness was extremely rich. When you devour both pudding and some custard on the spoon, the flavour is immense. Both my fiancée and I were very pleased with the dessert. At the end of the meal, we got the bill which included a 10% service charge. We did not dispute it, but found it odd that a choice was not given. Another disappointing fact is that they ran out of soup by 8pm, which is one of the most appealing starters. Given it was Valentines Day, you would have thought they'd have really stocked up especially. The drinks ======= Most of the drinks available are standard for any normal pub - soft drinks, lager, bitter, and a selection of spirits. Significantly though, The Angel are very proud to offer an impressive wine list, which includes a "world-class" variety from a prizewinning Australian winemaker from the McLaren Vale. Customer Service ============ When we walked through the doors, we were greeted by a tall blonde girl, who became our waitress for the evening. She had a very pleasant manner about her, although I was disappointed that she did not take our coats or direct us to where we could hang them, she literally directed us to a table and allowed us to sit with our coats on. I thought it was slightly unprofessional. Then when I put my coat on a peg, the peg fell off the wood it was attached to. Already, I was fairly circumspect about the quality of the place, but I thought the proof of the pudding would be in the eating, so to speak. Anyway, from that initial point, our waitress was mostly attentive. At the beginning she regularly checked on us. As it got busier, understandably, we had to call her over. However, there were a couple of instances when, after doing so, she seemed to roll her eyes which I thought gave the impression she was not happy to serve us. Being from the service industry, I thought it was unacceptable. As we clearly had come to the end of the meal, she was in no rush to come to us, and tended to just walk straight past without a look. Personal Opinion ============ The danger of having high expectations of somewhere is the inevitability that you are setting that place up for a catastrophic fall. I have to say that unfortunately, to me and my fiancée, The Angel's reputation did not precede itself when we darkened its doors. One of the most important things is the quality of the dinner, and luckily, that was good. However, given the excellent feedback of the establishment, it was a) nothing special and b) not giving value for money. The dessert was excellent, but not enough to outweigh the atmosphere, the service, poor presentation of food and the mediocrity of the main course. I really would not recommend The Angel to most people, unless they genuinely are looking for a menu which offers a classier selection of food and drink than your average pub. I am more likely to suggest The Berkshire Arms in Midgham, located just a couple of miles down the road towards Thatcham has a much better ambience, a more appealing menu and greater value for money. In conclusion, do not lend your presence to this establishment - it is one Angel that did not drop down from heaven.
Quaint dining with an extensive a la carte , champagne and wine menus.