SquareMeal Review of
Crooked Billet Stoke Row
It may be squirrelled away down a windy back lane in the unexpectedly rural hinterland between Henley and Reading, but there are plenty of reasons why the wonderfully “quirky” Crooked Billet gets packed to the gunnels with grub-seekers and metro-rural types. For a start it’s a photogenic hot property – we’ve spotted it in countless TV adds, crime dramas and movies. It also “has something for everyone” with music nights, special events and more besides – not to mention a freewheeling kitchen dedicated to “top-quality food” with eclectic overtones. There’s nothing too recherché about the vast menu, but it covers a lot of ground from home-smoked pheasant with beetroot, pickled red cabbage and parsnip crisp or a basket of shell-on prawns with mayo to Moroccan spiced lamb with harissa and barley couscous. For afters, there’s a cracking cheeseboard loaded with local varieties plus a roll-call of rich, rollicking puds such as baked Alaska. Also check out the springtime ‘guinea pig’ menu, when the chef trials new ideas at a special price. Meanwhile, a charming brigade of cheery, efficient staff keeps things rolling along nicely.