The White Eagle, 344A Oxford Rd, Reading, RG30 1AQ.
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of June 2016.
With a decent smattering of Polish diaspora living here in Reading, trying to cram them all into Piwnica on London Road would be a bit of a squeeze. And, despite what you might think, Polish people don’t exclusively drink their beer out of bottles and cans outside your house at four in the morning. A lot of them like pubs. Which is where the old The New Inn comes in. If you get our drift. Now called The White Eagle, it’s a Polish pub that welcomes natives as warmly as Eastern Europeans and, by our reckoning, it’s worth a visit. Provided you’re a more ‘hardy’ pub visitor, that is…
Drink Selection: If you remember The New Inn, you’ll recall that it wasn’t exactly a Mecca for real ale twats or beer enthusiasts in general. Its range was pretty basic. The White Eagle’s draught selection is similarly limited, but it’s the fridge you cast your boozy eye over in Polish places. The bottles of beer are wide ranging and, understandably, Polish. We’d recommend these two below. Wheaty things. Beautiful, they are. And you can have literally HOURS of fun demanding the patient bar staff repeat how drinks like ‘Pszeniczniak‘ are prounounced (it’s ‘p-says-she-nee-atch’ or something).
Location: The Occy Road. And a fair way up it, actually – if you’re coming in from town. It’s past the Battle Hospital and The Wishing Well, so expect a fair walk. Dodging McDonald’s bags and crazed drug addicts. That said, we’ve a soft spot for the Oxford Road. We’ve walked up and down it for years and never been assaulted yet. Well, not seriously assaulted, anyway.
Punterwatch: For a Polish pub called ‘The White Eagle’ it doesn’t actually comprise of that many Poles (and there wasn’t a single eagle in there, either). The bar staff are Polish, as are some of the customers. But it’s still mostly made up of English types getting beered up and shouting. Look, we’re not going to go into detail. You know what road this pub’s on, you’ve all got working imaginations. The kind of people who fight fruit machines. You know who we’re talking about.
Food: Yip. We didn’t look at the menu, but it’s Polish fare. The left hand side of the pub is a little sit-down bit with tables and chairs and what we saw coming out of the kitchen looked decent enough.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: There’s the curb out front or a small concrete area outside which kind of looks like the outside space afforded to inmates of maximum security prisons.
Toilets: Noticeably clean, not broken and well stocked on our last two visits. One downside, though? The gents’ cubicle WILL scalp anyone over 5’7″.
Price: Cheap. Those tasty bottles up there? £3.50. And pints don’t come in at a lot more.
Sports? Three screens sort you out. Football and, presumably, other sports that might tickle the fancy of our European cousins are shown. Don’t worry, the TVs aren’t permanently showing Gareth Southgate’s face, despite what these pictures might suggest.
Decor: Imagine a fairly run-down pub with a few walls painted red and white covered in Polish flags and pictures of the local Polish Sunday league side. You got it.
Pub Games: Two nice new-ish tables next to each other, both with ample cue space…
… and there’s darts too. Although, you have to play on a ‘WKD’ board.
This Oxford road boozer might not exactly soar like its eponymous bird, but it’s a solid place to sit and drink a few unusual beers. It’s also mildly thrilling, what with that sneaking feeling you have that you’ve snuck into a pub you maybe shouldn’t be in. Even though, obviously, you’re very welcome.
It’s not a particularly ‘rough’ boozer. Don’t get us wrong – you definitely *could* get your head kicked in. But it probably wouldn’t be by a Polish fella.