The Wishing Well, 280 Oxford Rd, Reading, RG30 1AD.
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of August 2016.
So, then. The Wishing Well... Well, we bet you’re wishing for another Pheasant-style mauling here, aren’t you? After all, this is The Wishing Well we’re reviewing here. The dinky little Irish pub up Reading’s infamous Oxford Road. A dodgy geezer’s boozer. It’s the sort of place you can snort lines off the bar and buy guns from the barmaid, isn’t it? Well, no. It’s not. And you’re a dipstick for thinking it is. You dipstick.
It’s just a pub. And a pretty decent one, at that. Recently decorated, its narrow frontage belies its true size (in that it’s a tiny bit bigger than it looks). And, sure, there’s no craft beers on sale or artisanal charcuterie boards on offer, but bollocks to all that, anyway. As well you know.
We think Terence Trent D’Arby said it best in the song ‘Wishing Well’:
♫ “Wish me love, a wishing well to kiss and tell.
A wishing well of butterfly tears. C’mon.
Wish me love, a wishing well to kiss and tell.
A wishing well of crocodile cheers. Uh.” ♫
Nicely put, Tel.
Drink Selection: The choice is fairly limited here, we’ll be honest (and why wouldn’t we be?). The usual bog standard spirits and bottles back up four lager draughts, two ciders and a Guinness (obviously). Ale drinkers beware – you’re on the John Smiths.
Location: Halfway up the Occy Road, it’s a fair schlep to walk to from town. Not that you would walk to it from town. As surprisingly pleasant as The Wishing Well is, it’s not exactly a ‘Destination Venue’. Whatever the fuck one of those is.
Food: Eating’s cheating, so it is. Begorrah and bejesus, etc.
Atmosphere: There isn’t really a huge amount of atmosphere provided by small groups of men chatting amenably, but we’re sure it gets a little livelier at weekends.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: There’s technically an area out back, but it’s just about the size of a few empty beer barrels and it’s full of empty beer barrels. So you’ll need to inhale your toxic and deadly chemicals out the front. There’s a bench out there which offers picturesque views of the Oxford Road.
Toilets: Nice and new now. There was bog roll AND soap when we were in. Well, the handwash had been watered down, but we all do that, don’t we? Well, some of our nans do, anyway.
Canvas Wall Hangings Espousing Meaningless Drivel? Yip.
Sports? You bet your sweet, sweet Europa League-watching behind there’s sports. Full Sky and BT Sport too. There are two large, well-placed screens at either end of the pub n’all. Y’know, to watch the sports on.
Price: Cheap. A John Smiths and a Stella was coming in at £7 (in August 2016!). You can’t argue with those sorts of prices, can you? Well, you can. But you’d be having a row with a price. An intangible concept. And we still reckon the price’d kick your head in.
Pub Games: It’s too small for a pool table, but there’s a dart board. There’s also a fruity and a decent new jukebox.
Do They Sometimes Throw All The Blokes Out And Sell Dildos? Yup.
Decor: As we say, it’s been given a lick of paint recently, so it’s looking fresh. It’s carpeted and feels like a pub. They don’t overdo the Irish stuff, either.
Weirdest Thing We Ever Found In The Toilets: This lot below.
Punterwatch: Real men, like this handsome working class fella.
Any Other Comments: It’s worth mentioning that a few of these pictures date back pre-renovation – it’s actually a lot smarter in there now. Oh, and it opens from 10am on a weekend.
Look, we’re not going to tell you to catch a cab down there, but if you’re passing – head in. It’s not as intimidating as its reputation has it. It’s just a pub. Stop being a fanny, just nip in for a pint, ya’ feckin’ jessie.