Review: The Grouse & Ale, Lane End

PUBLISHED: 10:53 11 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:57 07 November 2017

The Grouse & Ale

The Grouse & Ale


When we walked into the warm and welcoming Grouse & Ale it was instantly clear that this is a thriving hostelry. The clientele, a good mix of residents enjoying their local pub, and visitors like us seeking a decent lunch, were equalled by a crowd of dapper gents in suits.

We were quickly served, and while taking our food order the bar lady warned that our meals might need a little time as we’d chosen a day when the local Rotary Club was holding a lunchtime function. The suited chaps were just about to head for the dining room to be served their meal.

It’s always a kindness when staff bother to warn you of a possible delay. If the ticking clock is controlling your day than the courtesy of knowing that you might have to wait a while for food, or rush it, is much appreciated. Pubs really shouldn’t hide such issues – it just means we are unlikely to return if the lateness of the meals was never explained.

As it happened, we weren’t on a deadline and the cosy atmosphere at the Grouse & Ale made us happy to wait for the Rotary club to be sorted first. And we soon discovered the friendly and chirpy nature of the place when one of the customers, on overhearing our conversation, quietly joked: “Ladies, would you like me to point out which ones are millionaires?”

“Yes, please,” replied Maureen, later innocently insisting that she thought I might want her to photograph some of them. But we left the gents to enjoy their meal and instead settled in one of the pub’s wi-fi spots so we could check on photos she’d taken earlier. The pub has lots of space, broken up into small bars and nooks and crannies, so there’s room to spread out without losing that cosy feel of a country pub. We visited the ladies loos and found them to be immaculate, with all the little homely extras us girls love.

Then came the surprise. Despite the warning, our lunch arrived within minutes. What wasn’t a surprise was the quality (Rotarians know a good pub when they see it).

We’d ordered from the pub fare lunch menu, choosing from the sandwich selection with what for us was the unavoidable addition of chips. Not just any chips, either. Described on the menu as ‘proper hand cut chips’ they were just that, and as good as any tasted in top restaurants.

I’d chosen a vegetarian option of a ciabatta filled with roasted peppers, mushroom and brie with pesto dressing, and it turned out to be a very filling feast. Other offerings from the sandwich choices included home baked gammon, chicken club with bacon or sirloin steak with red onions. You really couldn’t go wrong.

Around us were people who’d chosen from the main menu and seemed just as happy. Grouse & ale pub favourites include Oxford Gold pork sausages with creamy mash and rich, sticky onion gravy. I think my father would have been tempted by the home made gammon with Lacey’s free range eggs and some of those very special chips.

Go up a dining level and a good list of mains includes pan-seared Gressingham duck breast with braised red cabbage, Lyonnaise potatoes and port sauce. Or you might choose Chicken Saltimbocca (breast of chicken stuffed with Cheddar and sage, wrapped in streaky bacon) served with sweet chilli and Brie sauce, wilted spinach and fondant potato.

As you can see, this is no ordinary pub menu! Starters and desserts were equally inventive. The menu also offers lovely sharing boards, an excellent Artisan British Cheese plate, all kinds of coffee and various teas, including herbal varities.

I reckon a three course feast of excellent courses comes in at between £21 and £30 person, or £15 to £22 for two courses.

Wise chaps, those Rotarians, they also know good value, millionaires or not!

High Street, Lane End HP14 3JG;

Latest from the Berkshire Life