The Bugle, 144 Friar St, Reading, RG1 1EX
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of November 2015.
Now this is what we call a proper boozer. One of the only authentic ‘pub’ pubs in the town centre, we’re guessing plenty of you will have given The Bugle a swerve based on reputation, visible clientele or because it looks a bit like a bombed-out shop from the war. But give it a chance. An old school Irish drinking hole, sure you might get stared at, but don’t be such a great big tart. It’s a bloody pub, you’re supposed to get stared at every now and again.
Drink Selection: Fairly ordinary. The usual weak lager, strong lager, cider, bitter and Guinness on draught, plus one cask ale effort. It was Courage when we were in. One handpump means the ale’s a risk, though. With few else in the pub drinking it, it likely sits there for longer than you’d hope. They also have the standard Magners, Becks, tart fuel, etc. But nothing to write home about. Unless whoever lives at home likes hearing about standard booze selections.
Price: The cheaper end of average. About £3.50 a pint.
Location: Excellent. Situated on Friar St, it’s practically the first pub you see after you leave the station. Despite this, it doesn’t get too busy, and you can generally get a seat.
Atmosphere: A little bleak. White wash walls and stark lighting means that there’s a lack of cosiness about the place. But, the front bar is a lot nicer than the back one.
Food: Nope. BOOZE.
Visible Savoury Snack Selection: It’s an Irish pub, so you get all of the novelty of ordering ‘Taytos’ and making hushed off-colour jokes about the potato famine back at your table.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: There isn’t a beer garden. The smoking area consists of an alleyway running along the side of the pub. Which, for some reason, is mildly thrilling to use.
Toilets: Perfectly acceptable if you only need a wee. A harrowing experience if you need a poo. Seriously, we’ve seen things, man…
Sports? Nope. But not to worry, eh?
Decor: The front bar is nice. It’s akin to the old ‘lounge’ area of pubs you used to get. It’s carpeted with low ceilings and visible beams. The back bar is very much spit and sawdust, mind. Tiled floors, minimal decoration, and so on.
Pub Games: There’s a fruit machine, if that counts? And a jukebox, which inevitably churns out shit, ‘til last orders when Danny Boy gets played three times in a row. Oh, and on a Saturday night some of the elderly locals engage in the traditional game of ‘get drunk and fall on your face.’
Seating: Wooden chairs and benches. None of that sofa/armchair nonsense that you get nowadays.
Punterwatch: Mostly Irish diaspora, with a smattering of terrifying looking Eastern Europeans. We called it ‘an Irish pub’, but it’s more a pub that Irish people drink in, rather than an Irish pub. If that makes sense. Actually, it’s more of an Irish pub than feckin’ O’Neills. But that’s not saying much, to be sure.
Any Other Comments: The staff are very friendly. One of the lasses behind the bar was definitely giving us the eye/showing the basic level of courtesy required.
The Bugle – how boozers should be (unless you’re the kind of berk who orders coffee in pubs and reads The Independent).