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Thrifty hounding in UK (Reading)

I may be going with my business-traveling hubby to Reading in a couple of months, and he has me totally freaked out about the price of things. His continental breakfast this morning ran him $35, and dinner for one (at some reasonably nice but not posh places) are running well over $50 for one. So, our 4-year old and I will be going with him for somewhere between a week or two, and want to eat reasonably but not fancily. (Have to save the chow tour for later.)

I was hoping for advice on eating inexpensively but happily in the UK, and in Reading in particular. Thanks!

ETA: Getting an apartment with a kitchen is an option, but I don't want to spend all of the time cooking. Plus, I figure unless I pack a sack of kitchen essentials, that may not end up saving me much money.

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  1. Gridder, that breakfast was scandalous and certainly not typical. Think $10 for a continental in Reading. Dinner probably about right. Reading is a pretty ordinary place but if you get a car then there are plenty of nicer spots within 40 mins. On the river you have Henley, Wargrave, Maidenhead, Marlow, Moulsford (Beetle & Wedge restaurant is lovely), Wallingford etc. etc. All nice.

    You are in a wealthy area though, plenty of Michelin stars (look up the Fat Duck or the Waterside Inn on the net)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robin Joy

      Fat Duck is definitely not cheap though. And there are plenty of good reasonably priced restaurants in Reading, especially in the Caversham area.

      1. re: FoodieKat

        However you could try the "Hinds Head" in Bray which is Heston's pub (the owner of The Fat Duck). Good well priced pub food - half the tables are bookable the others are first come first served - get there early.

    2. Can't help with restaurant recs - but if you decide to do any cooking, I have an e-friend from another (non-food) board who is a butcher there. He claims to sell good meat.

      You'll find the shop at Cavendish Meats, Cavendish Road, Emmer Green, Reading. You want Roland and you want to tell him that "Harters from the Forum" sent you. He'll know who I am.


      1. If you do want to travel just a bit, go to the Hinds Head pub in Bray. It's owned by the same person as The Fat Duck. The food is very good value for money, plus it's near Windsor which you might like to explore. Remember that things seem expensive, only because the dollar is so weak. Things here in England only seem out of sight if you keep converting to dollars - prices haven't gone up all that much.

        1. In Reading there is a shopping centre called the Oracle which is centrally located. There are a couple of reasonably nice chain restaurants located there such as Wagamama (a noodle sort of place), Pizza Express (pizza, pasta, salad), and Tootsies which does alright burgers as well as breakfast. You can easily eat at all of these for less than £10 each.

          1. Standard Tandoori. Best Indian curry in the entire town. Period. Very reasonably priced too. 141-145 Caversham Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8AU.

            Breakfast or lunch - you can eat very cheaply at Munchies. Munchees 2-3 Butter Market, Reading. Berkshire. Not much on decor, it's a hole in the wall, but you can get pretty decent standard cafe food, breakfasts, or even some Thai or Nepalese dishes for well under £10 pp.

            Try Santa Fe for dinner (they also do reasonable lunch deals for under $10 or main courses for under $20 pp). Very tasty Southwestern/Mexican/Tex-Mex food - good cocktails too. It's near the Oracle center.

            Further afield, there's an excellent gastropub called the George & Dragon
            Church Road
            RG7 1TJ
            Delicious food, lovely pub and some lunch specials too.

              1. re: zuriga1

                Reviving thread b/c we are leaving in a week!
                No, we won't have a car, and are staying in Wokingham.

                1. re: gridder

                  I hope our heat wave continues so you'll have our current, lovely weather! A dear friend of mine (died not long ago) lived in Wokingham. It's a very nice area and should have some decent local pubs. There's one in Pangbourne but that would probably involve a cab or car. It's worth a cab ride over to Bray - lots of good places there such as The Hinds Head or Caldesi... or to Windsor. Maybe there's a bus? Enjoy the trip!!

                  Almost forgot - I think you can easily train to Guildford. There are a lot of chain restaurants there like Wagamama etc.

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    As Zuriga has said from Wokingham you can easily get to Reading and Guildford on the train, and also get out into the countryside via connections from both of those stations.

                    There is very little out here in terms of original food, and anything original will be fairly simple pubfare. That said, Wokingham is lovely and I suspect it has a Pizza Express or Ask of its own if you don't want to go out to Guildford or Reading.

                  2. re: gridder

                    Another chain in the Oracle that is reasonable is Nando's. Portugese via South Africa, Chicken Chain restaurant.

                    For something more non-chainy, I have had a meal at Bel & The Dragon before, that is right by the Oracle. Can't comment on how expensive it was as Microsoft were paying, but the food was nice.

                    1. re: portseven

                      Interesting, I didn't know Bel and The Dragon was a group of restaurants. I've passed the one in Godalming (near Guildford) many times, and it has a very good reputation. I think it's fairly pricey, but that's relative. My son ate there several years ago... doing work for Microsoft in Godalming. I see a strange coincidence here. :-) He's based, however, in Redmond.

                      1. re: zuriga1

                        The Bel and The Dragon in Godalming is alright, really the building is the attraction. I did think it was over priced when I went last year and the service was a bit slow for a lunch time The Squirrel which is just off the A3 between Guildford and Godalming is much better, though pricey - everything this way is.

                        1. re: nanette

                          I don't know The Squirrel - close by, though. We had a decent sandwich once at The Hautboy which is near Ripley and Wisley. It wasn't anything to write home about either, but pleasant garden. I guess I won't rush to The Bel and The Dragon either!