The Allied Arms, 57 St Mary’s Butts, Reading, RG1 2LG.
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of December 2015.
THE go-to ‘pub’ pub in Reading. Cosy, lively and not quite as ‘specialist’ as The Bugle, The Allied Arms is the boozer you head for in town. The fact that there aren’t three or four more pubs like this in the
city town centre (like there should be), makes us appreciate this place even more…
Drink Selection: On the drinks front, this is an old man’s pub, in the nicest sense of the term. You’ve got four or five ales to pick from, with your usuals like Doom Bar and Hullabaloo sitting next to an ever-changing little roster of local efforts. But don’t worry, unless it’s their annual beer festival, you’re really not in real ale twats territory. Spirits and wines are limited, but there’s normally one of those borderline-moonshine ciders available. You know the kind. They come in boxes and give you four day hangovers.
Location: Nestled snugly in St. Mary’s Butts (LOL, etc.), it’s on that little strip with Mangal, Pizza Express, ASK, Cafe Du Sport/Monroe’s/Marilyn’s Rib Shack/Smoking Billy’s BBQ Ribhouse/Whatever the fuck they’re calling it this week.
Food: Sod off. You’re welcome to bring in food, though. You’ll see the odd Pizza Express box being welcomed in of an evening, which is a nice touch.
Visible Savory Snack Selection: Decent. A wide variety of nuts, scratchings, chocolate bars, crisps and dairy-based snacks, such as Cheesy Moments. There are also fish-based snacks, such as Scampi Fries and even meat-based snacks in the shape of Bacon Fries.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: There’s a decent outside smoking area that goes back a fair way and has plenty of benchspace and heaters. Wins ‘Reading’s Best Pub Garden’ more by default than anything else, though. Room inside can often be coveted, so do be prepared to spend a decent portion of your evening out there (wear a vest, you’ll catch your death of cold, dear).
Toilets: Nothing special to report.
Sports? Nope. Although there are two big screens, one inside, one outside. So big terrestrial events are probably a go-er.
Price: Among some people, The Allied has a bit of a reputation for being slightly overpriced, but it’s unearned. Pints come in at well under £4 and for a
city town centre pub – with all the associated business rates – you can’t complain about that. Do expect to pay for wine, though.
Decor: As a pub should look. Fifty shades of brown.
Atmosphere: Almost always busy at peak times. But always friendly. Helped by the personable landlady and chirpy young staff.
Pub Games: No pool or darts or board games, but there is a weird little sit-down retro arcade cabinet that doubles up as a table in the front bar. Other than that, your main ‘game’ and event is the big pub quiz which happens every other Wednesday evening. The interesting thing about it? It’s run by regulars. Stick your name down and host your own quiz. It’s a great power trip and – whisper it – you get free booze all night…
Seating: Proper pub chairs. Maroon velvet cushions studded to dark wood. A hundred thousand arses have pumped ale farts into them, but they’re nice and comfortable. Actually… Jesus. We’ve never though of it like that before. Christ, that’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?
Punterwatch: Locals, casuals, pub people. No towny types, you’re fine. A slightly older crowd, maybe. The quiz certainly see returning faces.
Like that series of fat ginger cats that get superglued to a shopping trolley and that funny fella what likes Elvis, The Allied is a Reading institution. It’s a real pub in the centre of town and there ain’t many of them. A decent barometer for a pub, for us, is which ones you take guests to. If you’ve got friends or family down for the day or weekend, where are you going? And chances are, if you’re central, you’re heading here for a pint.
It’s a lovely pub, but I can’t remember the last time I paid less than £4 for a pint.