1 review of The Golden Ball in English
IDENTITY CRISIS? NO WORRIES!
The ‘gastropub’ concept is one that baffles many in the UK, not least those who are running one. Since it can range from a middle-of-the-road licensed restaurant through to a pub that sells extremely good grub, and can also embrace all grey areas in between, I think that all proprietors should be forced to identify themselves and be ready to be judged on a points basis as in e.g. “80:20 gastropub”. At least we should know what to expect then.
The latter 80:20 is roughly where I would place the Golden Ball, which is situated at Pinkney’s Green outside of central Maidenhead at a rural site that is very attractive in the summer (see website).
As with many gastropubs, the ‘pub’ section is really rather polished, tidy, modern and lacking in character, and does not subliminally suggest “Pray tarry for a game of cribbage and spin us a yarn, good sir”. An ostensibly positive contribution towards the ambiance is a wood oven for those cold winter nights, but it is in need of attention either in terms of how it is operated or how it is maintained, since it divests just a tad too much smoke to be cosy.
The aformentioned attributes are also reflected in the ‘gastro’ section where they are albeit less of a nuisance because they do not deter from your drinking experience, but rather ensure that your eating experience is not affected by anything that could be deemed to be offensive or ‘not nice’ in the slightest possible way..
The website and menu are really rather cool; indeed you could say – as one does in business – that their “front office is convincing”.
Being impressionable, my gaze was drawn to: “The Golden Ball Handmade Ruby Red Beef Burger, with melted mature cheddar, crispy bacon, served with chips”. I don’t know what it weighed in at, other than £ 10.50, but travel to such exotic places as Texas has learned me that burgers don’t come out of packets, but rather require careful and loving preparation. I find that measuring the quality of burgers is a simple but useful yardstick for comparatively evaluating gastropubs, prior to venturing into the loftier pecuniary areas of their respective offerings.
It was here that the Golden Ball did not disappoint and the burger was indeed cooked to my requested specification. My wife’s choice of “Whitby Breaded Whole Tail Scampi” was perhaps less wise on balance, because I fear that the likelihood of these having leapt fresh from a packet would indeed be extremely large at any establishment in the UK. They tasted appropriately bland. As stated, the menu sounds quite exuberant, although I would question the validity of “Char-grilled Exmoor Tandoori Chicken Breast", unless it refers to chicken cooked in a tandoor and then reheated by char-grilling.
The service was cheerful enough, although our chap did tire me with his endless barrage of “No worries”. As an expression which is intended to mean anything from “Very good, sir” to “Right you are, guv’nor” it does “get on my tits”, since I am not an habitual worrier. If there is anything to worry about, then it is the establishment I am visiting that should be doing the worrying. Equally, his description of today’s “Chef’s Choice of Pate” as being “Ardine” suggested a possible lack of sector-related training (although in fairness, we should not forget Rick Stein’s pronunciation of “Chorizo”).
All in all then; a clean, pleasant and well-situated venue. Maybe a little over-priced, but flamboyant pricing can often deter those whose demographic profile is deemed to be unsuitable and the proprietors position themselves more “Daily Mail” than “Daily Mirror”. I would imagine that their Sunday luncheons are pretty damn good. The general ambience suggests that this is a place best suited to groups and families. I would say that if you hauled someone special here of an evening on speculation, then your chances of pulling might be a little marginal.
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