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The Corn Stores – Bar, Restaurant and Members Club in the Heart of Reading:
It’s unusual for my colleague not to know a Reading venue. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s lived there all his life – and knows every bar and restaurant like the back of his hand. The Corn Stores, right by Reading Station was new to him though and once we arrived and met the team we discovered why. Opened late 2018, just in time for the Christmas rush, The Corn Stores is one of those places that you visit and wonder why no-one noticed the gap in the market before.
In fact, we’d already been for a cocktail at Caffeine and Cocktails that evening – and mentioned where we were heading to the friendly team.
‘Oh it’s great there – really good place’
There’s something quite endearing about a recommendation from a competitor isn’t there? Even if the overlap is less than 100%.
The Corn Stores is a Grade II listed merchant’s warehouse, built in 1890. A stunning conversion to create the restaurant, bar and members club, is the work of Rarebreed Dining, a small group of restaurants – they also run The Plough (a 16th Century Village Pub in Cobham) and The Shurlock Inn in Shurlock Row. It’s with an attention to detail, for example ageing their own meats, that they aim to differentiate themselves.
There’s a comprehensive drinks menu and my companion, for the sake of photography, ordered a ‘Twinkle’. which turned out to be East London Liquor Company Vodka, Elderflower, Lemon, and Bubbles. Created by Tony Conigliaro, it’s the kind of cocktail I’d have picked for myself. Obviously, that meant he was obliged to share! A large jar of lemon marinated Queen olives made for good grazing while we perused the menu.
In the end, we picked the sharing ‘baked Cotswold Brie with Tomato Chutney and Toasted Sourdough’ on the advice of our waiter. An excellent way to start the evening, perhaps rather foolishly given what we’d ordered to follow, we managed to finish the entire thing.
A bottle of Sicilian Nero D’Avola was, as the menu suggested, deliciously fruity and an excellent pairing both for the cheese and for the steaks we’d ordered to follow. At £24 a bottle, it seemed excellent value.
My choice of a 200g Fillet Steak with salad garnish sounded as if it needed a side dish or two. And, beef fat chips were calling to me. As it happens we definitely over-ordered. The ‘salad garnish’ was larger than many a side salad I’ve been offered in the past and despite being priced between £4 to £5 a portion, the side dishes were substantial and quite large enough to share. Except for the chips. I don’t share my beef fat chips – ever.
The ribeye ordered by my companion came beautifully cooked so that all the marbling was a delicious basting for the sweet meat.
If I have any criticism, it is of the sauces. My béarnaise was just a little bland. But honestly, it didn’t matter because the meat itself was so perfectly cooked that it really didn’t need a sauce at all.
Of the sides, my personal favourite was a delicious and generous portion of sweet roasted root vegetables. We also enjoyed the aforementioned beef fat chips – they also have cheesy beef fat chips on the menu but even I couldn’t manage that level of self-indulgence.
Baked flat mushrooms were meaty and nicely presented, while the macaroni cheese with Barbers vintage cheddar was creamy and piquant but light.
After coffee, I only had a few yards to stagger to the station to get the train home while my colleague made his way home on foot.
We will definitely be back. It’s somewhere that we both agreed is sorely needed in Reading. While there are some very well managed chain restaurants alongside the Oracle and a few unique places like Bel and the Dragon and Zero Degrees, there’s nothing quite so classy, quite so near the station and quite so comfortable as The Corn Stores.
The Corn Stores
10 Forbury Road,
Reading RG1 1SB
Tel: 0118 324 6768
Disclosure: We dined as guests of The Corn Stores. All content is editorially given