The Fruit Bat, 30 Erleigh Rd, Reading RG1 5NA.
All we ask for here at Shit and Not Shit Pubs in Reading is for a little character from our boozers. As more and more places turn to that grey and blue wanky barbers look you get everywhere nowadays, there’s less and less individuality about. We’re definitely a bit buggered for independent bars and the like here. So we reckon it’s worth appreciating the ones we have.
Alright, fine. So you’re ‘old’ now. You’ve got a boring job but with a decent wage. You’ve got a kid or two and you only get out once every three months. You’ve fucked your life up, basically. But that’s not the point. The point is – if you’re looking for £12 fancy Dan cocktails to have with your miserable partner and your dull friends, go to Pitcher & Piano.
But if you want a few jars out somewhere with a touch of personality, in the real world, you want your Up the Junctions of this world/town. You want a bit of a dive bar. You want somewhere fun. You want places like The Fruit Bat.
Location: The east side of town, you need to head towards the hospital. It’s on Erleigh Road, near Reading School and a couple of doors up from poncy greasy spoon (clean spoon?), Café YOLK.
Drink Selection: The basics are covered. We remember seeing Heineken, Symonds, Guinness and Hullabaloo, but there might be other draughts. Plus there are some bottles and your usual spirits. Oh, and plenty of tart fuel shot things that taste like cough syrup.
Service/Staff: We went on a Friday night and it was fairly busy. There was one very switched on and friendly Geordie girl working behind the bar while the owner mooched about collecting glasses and – get this – handing out the odd free shot. No wait at the bar, smiles on faces. Nice.
Food: We were in for about 8pm when the kitchen would’ve been closed, so we’re not entirely sure. We’re fairly certain there’s daytime grub, though. *Gallic shrug*
Punterwatch: In term time, you get the odd group of fookin’ students, but mostly the Fruit Bat’s for locals. Whoever lives in the area. There was a decent smattering of Irish fellas in there when we visited, who were – mostly – fairly well behaved.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: Aim your blackened lungs out front…
Toilets: As ever, we bloody forgot to ask our female pals what the ladies were like, but as no complaints were forthcoming, we’re left imagining they’re fine. Not that we sit around our spare room imagining women’s toilets or anything. We’re not German. The gents were fine: clean, working, a mirror, a lockable cubicle and bog roll.
Sports? Oh, yes. Three or four screens and a fuck off big projector show all the big games from Sky Sports and BT Sports.
Seating: The chairs and stools look a bit like they’d been bought in bulk from an auction after a pub furnishings company from the mid-90s had gone into liquidation, but they were comfortable enough. As were the leather sofas which, admittedly, are a little torn and tattered in places.
Price: The Fruit Bat is cheap. As ever, we can’t remember exactly how cheap (and these things are liable to change), but premium pints were coming in around three and a half quid. Symonds cider – in a branded pint glass – at a nicker less than that (£2.60!). And you can’t argue with that. Well you could. But you’d be an arsehole for doing so. Cheap shots and deals were advertised behind the bar too. Trust us, you could get pretty well refreshed on a twenty pound note.
Decor: It’s basic and we’d be surprised if too many interior designers were consulted prior to the last time it was decorated, but it looks fine. It reminded us of the kind of bar you get in Southern Spain run by a couple from Coventry. It even has rickety, death trap-looking ceiling fans and a large decorative ‘Sol’ beer sign. All that’s missing is a never-ending DVD box set of Only Fools and Horses playing on the tellies.
That’s not a criticism, by the way. If you don’t like fry-ups with chips and four pints of lager before Midday, followed by three hours of cockney comedy and then a bit of sunburn, you’re no friends of ours.
Worth noting that the owner has plans for the place. At the time of writing he’s not long taken over (August 2017) and is looking into some serious renovation. Inside and out front.
Visible Savory Snack Selection: While waiting for our boozepints we saw Pipers crisps on the go. That’s all we recall because we’re not very good at this whole pub reviewing lark.
Pub Games: A decent pool table with plenty of playing space sits out back next to a dart board. There’s also a couple of fruities and a jukebox which you might want to make use of before the owner jumps on with his dreadful music taste (think ‘2011 Eminem’).
Deals? When we were in there were bottles of VK Cherry for £1.50. We didn’t buy any, obviously. But still. Look for weekend offers where Heineken’s £3 a pint and it’s 3 Jaegerbombs for a fiver. If that’s your sort of thing.
Events: The Fruit Bat’s Facebook page tells us there are the odd disco/karaoke night affairs, as well as live music nights. And DJs.
It might not be one for a first date, but it’s a hole-in-the-wall bar in a town full of copy and paste borebars. And it’s a larf. So bollocks. TWO THUMBS UP.