The Island, Pipers Island, Caversham Bridge, Caversham, Reading, RG4 8AH.
Do you remember that shit Michael Bay action movie from about a decade ago with Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johansson in it called The Island? Nope, nor do we. So we won’t bother making a load of very clever comparisons and jokes about it in this review of Piper’s Island bar, The Island. We’ll just make this one almost pointless reference to it in this introduction.
Location: Situated on what must be the smallest island on Earth, Piper’s Island (which, weirdly, has its own Wikipedia entry), this place is just off Caversham Bridge, on the River Thames. A spot which allows for views unrivalled in any other RG1 boozejoints. Which is a shame, because they’re kind of wasted on this place somewhat.
Drink Selection: An impressive spirits selection and decent enough wine list is let down slightly by the rather disappointing draughts on offer. But, for a bar of its size, you can’t grumble too much. Our recommendation is a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, an ice bucket and a seat outside on a hot day. That said – and at the risk of sounding like terrible ponces – do watch them sort out the bucket. They will fill it up entirely with ice, instead of fixing up the correct water to ice ratio. Reading that back, we sound even poncier than we originally feared. Ah, well. It’s written now.
Food: Up until very recently, we’d say avoid, avoid, avoid (we have a bit of a stammer). Despite the nice, clean and modern look inside and fancy tables and chairs, this is not a place you go to eat. Mind you, with summer approaching they’ve invested in a pizza oven and the pizzas coming out of it look pretty good. So we’ll leave it up to you.
Atmosphere: Minimal. This place is usually dead unless there’s a private party on the go or it’s a sunny day and the outside area’s attracted alcohol-fancying river voyeurs. Stroll in at any other time and you’re left kind of standing around wondering if you’ve pitched up in the middle of a fire evacuation. And when a bar’s empty 80% of the time’s it’s open you kind of wonder how it stays open…
*cough* money laundering *cough*
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: This is what it’s all about. There’s a downstairs and upstairs bar, but it’s the outside space you go to The Island for. There really isn’t a better locale for boozing in Reading when it’s hot.
Toilets: Yep. They have those. For both men AND women.
TV Sports? Nope.
Pub Games: You can throw peanuts at passing rowers, if that counts?
Price: It’s not cheap, but you won’t be tempted to throw the owner into the river in disgust.
Decor: It’s looking a wee bit tired around the edges now, but generally – it’s a modern and clean environment. One which promises slightly more than it actually delivers.
Punterwatch: A mixed bag. But mainly ponces moaning about there not being enough water in the ice bucket. You know the type. DREADFUL PEOPLE.
Service: In the years we’ve occasionally popped our heads into The Island since it’s opened, the service has never really improved. There are always new staff in training and the owner seems pretty surly.
There you have it. The Island. Nice when it’s hot, a let down when it’s not. And just like the 2005 action film, it’s, er, it’s… Nope. No idea.
See you next time, kids.
[A WORD FROM OUR SOLICITOR: We would just like to make it abundantly clear that any references to money laundering made in this review by my client are entirely in jest and are not to be taken seriously in any way, shape or form.]