The Greyfriar, 53 Greyfriars Rd, Reading RG1 1PA.
Now, if you’ve read our review/slaughtering of The Castle Tap, you might be expecting another savage attack on ‘hipster’ boozing with our guide to The Greyfriar. But while it’s seemingly guilty of a couple of the same things for which we had a pop at the Castle Street pub for, this place doesn’t rile us up anywhere near as much. For two reasons: Firstly, it’s nowhere near as pretentious. And secondly – we’re hypocrites and we’re just making all this shit up as we go along.
Drink Selection: There are plenty of options, what with it being a pub for the young ‘uns. So your craft beer efforts are there, plus a few interesting lagers and ciders. Look out for some sexy Belgian offerings and their ‘Tap Takeovers’ where breweries come in and offer up discounted boozes from their range. Plus they have an excellent selection of gins too.
Food: Available Monday to Friday only and only over lunchtimes, it’s no great shakes by the looks of things, but if you’re hungry, their selection of sandwich-y bits and bobs will probably do you a job. We’re glad they’ve stopped doing evening snacks. It was mostly reheated canapes and party food from the nearby Sainsbury’s and it was mildly embarrassing, even when handed out for free to tables.
Atmosphere: Flip a coin. Walk past this place – as we do quite a bit – and it’s either rammed or dead. Mind you, that’s probably more a reflection of our town than the pub.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: Poor. You’ve got to go outside on the small pavement and get in pedestrians’ way. And you have to go through that whole hiding-your-beer thing as you smuggle it out to drink as you smoke. Laws is laws, but you can’t beat a legitimate beer garden for contributing to your personal chronic obstructive pulmonary disease challenge.
Toilets: Aye. Nice and new they are too.
Sports? Nope. Which is fine, but annoyingly there is a TV. Switched permanently onto BBC News 24. Now, we remember being in a pub with TV news on the night that Raoul Moat and Gazza story happened and it was brilliant. But 99% of the time, a TV tuned into BBC News 24 will just be repeating stories about cabinet reshuffles and carbon emissions. LANDLORDS – lose the bloody ambient TVs, alright? Alright.
Price: Expect to pay, but only because you’re ordering weird bottles and imports and things. The regular drinks are actually fairly well priced.
Decor: It still kind of has that ‘recently opened’ vibe, not making you feel hugely at home. There’s a fair bit of wood and hard surfaces, which again contributes to a sterner feel, but it’s nowhere near as clinical looking as a Castle Tap or similar. You don’t have to have all sorts of crazy crap on the walls, but the walls are a little on the bare side. Just like yo’ momma’s ass.
Sorry about that. Anyway… UPDATE – they now have tap badges all over the walls.
Pub Games: There’s a decent dartboard. That’s yer lot.
Punterwatch: A younger crowd, it’s a mixture of people who like the ‘newer style’ pubs and a post-work crowd.
Events: The Tap Takeovers we’ve mentioned… There are Monday pub quizzes we’ve not yet given a run out (feel free to let us know what you know about ’em below in the comments). On the afternoons of Madejski-based London Irish games, wave your rugby ticket about at staff for money off your boozedrinks.
A decent addition to Reading’s portfolio of pubs, The Greyfriar might be a bit too bloody hip for its own good, but you’ve got to have a mixture, haven’t you? For every Bugle, you need a Greyfriar. Whatever the bloody hell that means. Cheers.