Show-stopping foodie experiences aren’t hard to come by, but despite the plethora of fine dining restaurants now peppering the UK restaurant scene, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for eateries to make their mark. In cities like London, where the competition is fierce, the world’s top chefs battle it out to become recognised for their culinary expertise, and as Michelin-recognised offerings spread further and further away from the capital, it can be hard, as a diner, to determine which to choose.
There might be only one ‘real’ fine dining restaurant in Reading, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of its growing reputation as one of the best in the region – in fact, quite to the contrary.
Newly revamped and hotly anticipated Reading venue The Corn Stores is the latest project by Rarebreed Dining – the group behind other favourites The Plough Inn, The Shurlock Inn and The Waverley Inn – and is based around an all new fine dining concept that has already won it much acclaim from critics and foodies alike since recently reopening its doors with its new and improved identity.
Located in the heart of Reading in a lovingly restored Grade II listed building, the restaurant is fast becoming the most highly sought-after restaurant in town, and having originally opened as a steak house before undergoing its recent transformation, it is now making a brand new statement that seems to be going down a treat.
Serving up a mouthwatering menu of modern British cuisine, The Corn Stores prides itself on its commitment to delivering first-class service and its use of high-quality British ingredients – and rightly so. The offering comprises a stylish restaurant, cocktail bar and members’ lounge, and following on from its recent refresh, has introduced a new dining menu of beautifully constructed dishes that now offer something different from Rarebreed Dining’s usual steak-focused style. Nevertheless, Rare Members can still dine on the famed dry-aged steaks the brand is known for, and suffice it to say that they don’t disappoint,
Under the culinary direction of celebrated head chef, Liam Sweeney, it seems that The Corn Stores is perfectly primed for its new status of being the best eatery in the city, and with an ever-changing menu that transforms regularly to reflect what’s in season, you can be certain you’ll be in for a treat, and something unique, whatever the time of year.
Liam is no stranger to working in fine dining kitchens, having cooked at various award-winning and Michelin-starred restaurants during his career including the prestigious Auberge du Lac, in Hertfordshire. From from Sydney to Paris, he has spent the years leading up to now fine-tuning his culinary skills in kitchens around the world, before going on to make a name for himself in the UK with stints at Galvin Restaurants and FERA – and now, furthering his reputation and bringing his passion for great food and exceptional cooking to The Corn Stores.
Opening for both lunch and dinner and offering up a comprehensive vegan menu – no half-hearted token gestures here – diners can expect fresh produce sourced directly from the very best local suppliers and from the group’s own butchery and smokehouse – with highlights for meat lovers including its pasture-fed lamb, slow-roasted pork, and Lake District Farmers beef.
Signature dishes include the hearty Aylesbury duck breast with beetroot, chard and fig, slow roasted pork collar with girolle, peas and gooseberry – and for the sweet-toothed, a marinated apricot with smooth coffee and milk is an excellent way to round things off.
Popping in for a meal on a busy Friday lunch, I was instantly impressed by the excellent variety of dishes on offer and the carefully curated flavour combinations presented on the menu. I opted to start with the afore-mentioned raw Lake District beef, which came accompanied by a tart pickled celeriac, potent black garlic and crisp toast which added just the right level of crunch to elevate the dish through an additional dimension of texture. A great and well-balanced choice that fans of the traditional steak tartare will love.
Onto mains, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to the Windsor Park venison. It turns out that my instincts were just right – its buttery texture was to die for, and alongside the pot roast cabbage and truffle it came with, it truly tasted like the very best of autumn on a plate. A stand-out dish that I’d order again in a heartbeat, and certainly one to remember.
With just enough room left for dessert, the rich 70 per cent Hulia chocolate, walnut and salted caramel was an obvious choice, and just as decadent as you’d expect. The perfect way to round off a tasty and delicious meal, and moreish enough to leave you wanting more.
Of course, no meal is complete without an excellent bottle of wine to wash it all down with, and the Ruminat Primitivo, as recommended by the waiter, was the ideal pairing for all three courses. An appealing ruby red in colour, imagine aromas of black cherry and violets on the nose, with a soft, smooth palate with notes of sweet black cherries and blackcurrants along with cinnamon and cloves, and you’ll have a fairly good idea of why.
If you’re looking for a lighter bite over some drinks, then the stylish bar is the perfect destination for a more casual evening jaunt, with a menu of tempting small plates including Ox tongue buns, Lincolnshire Poacher and brioche toast and a British charcuterie selection with mustard and pickles to choose from. And of course, it’s all served up alongside your choice of quality craft beers and creative cocktails, curated by The Corn Stores’ master in-house mixologist.
Celebrating its roster of local suppliers, The Corn Stores has come up with some inspired ways to showcase its menu outside of the usual dining experience, with a calendar of exclusive and carefully curated events happening throughout the year. Perhaps the most notable of these is the newly launched Supper Club Series, which looks to embrace the original spirit of the longstanding supper club tradition with long and luxurious lunches.
Rarebreed Dining also offers Rare Membership for those seeking exclusive off-menu dishes, intimate events and access to the top floor lounge and bar at The Corn Stores.
In a nutshell
It’s easy to see why it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a table at The Corn Stores, and having sampled its mouth-watering menu whilst soaking up the relaxed yet refined atmosphere of the restaurant and bar, I know for certain that I’ll be back. Quality ingredients, exceptional cooking and an extensive wine list will go a long way, and here, they did just that.
Address: 10 Forbury Rd, Reading RG1 1SB
Phone: 0118 324 6768