Up the Junction, 231 London Rd, Reading RG1 3NY.
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of July 2016.
Pop quiz, hot shot. It’s Saturday night. Midnight. You’ve just been booted out of your local. But you’re a proud Brit and six hours in the pub binge drinking isn’t enough. You want to carry on the boozefest. Where do you go? WHERE DO YOU GO??? Well, your options are limited in town, aren’t they? We’re presuming you’re not a teenager, so places like Q Club aren’t options. Late night boozing in Reading restricts you to only a few places: Hipster Hellhole the Oakford Social Club, the new and improved but twat-heavy Purple Turtle, the ear-bleedingly loud gay pub The Blagrave Arms and the bizarre restaurant/diner/theme bar/nightclub/venue that is Smokin’ Billy’s.
But, so long as you’re prepared to walk for twenty minutes – or better yet, cab it – you can forget all of those places and head up Cemetery Junction to Up the Junction. It’s a scuzzy little independent dive bar that any decent little town or city worth its salt should have dozens of. We have one.
Location: As its name (and our last paragraph) suggests – it’s in Cemetery Junction, opposite Palmer Park. It’s a bit of a schlep up Kings Road, but if you’re walking you can always head up via the Kennet and fall into the river or something. Y’know. For a laugh.
Drink Selection: This place is, to put it politely, ‘no frills’. This isn’t a nine craft beers on draught affair. They don’t have a specially curated range of artisanal gins. They’ve got a couple of basic lagers and ciders, a couple of bottles of wine and few spirits (including the Greek brandy Metaxa, which is a nice touch). But it’s alcohol. And that’s the point.
Food: Nope. But you’re literally next door to a kebab house. Which is ideal. You can nip in and order as you hit the dregs and by the time you finish up, you’re good to go. Jump in a cab home and enjoy your entirely unnecessary 1800 calorie 2am meal in front of Channel Five’s TV roulette. #bliss
Atmosphere: Drunk. It has a drunk atmosphere. Christ alone knows what it’s like to walk in there as a sober punter. So we have to admit, this is drunk reviewing, really. The people are pissed, we were pissed, you’ll be pissed.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: Smoke outside on the pavement. It’s an ideal spot to have awkward, drunk conversations with beered-up fellas from Woodley.
Toilets: Aye. Basic and not best suited for leisurely number twos, but for beer wees, you’ll have no complaints.
Sports? No much sport worth watching is televised at one in the morning, so there’s no real need for a TV.
Price: Reasonable. They could take the mickey, knowing you’d pay a little extra, but they don’t.
Decor: We can’t really remember due to the drink, but these photos sum it up. It’s dark, cosy and dive-y. Just what you want.
Music: When it gets busy, tunes are dictated by those with the most pound coins. The comprehensive jukebox will sort you out. So go shrapnelled-up. Midweek… They have acoustic nights of a Wednesday and DJs on Thursday playing soul and reggae and the like.
Punterwatch: You sense kindred spirits when you go in. Boozers (usually seeking afters). But there’s also a smattering of locals. We’ve only ever been in the early hours of a weekend and it’s young and old, male and female, posh and Tilehurst. Well, alright, not ‘posh’, but you catch our drift.
Like we said earlier, low key little bars like Up the Junction should be ten a-penny in a place like this. But they ain’t. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s just a fun little spot, whatever it is – it gets the Shit & Not Shit Pubs in Reading ‘Not Shit Dive Bar’ approval rating. Wahey!