Bel & The Dragon Reading

Modern European·

SquareMeal Review of Bel & The Dragon Reading

Philanthropist, heir to the Cadbury chocolate empire and one-time owner of Soho’s Groucho Club, Joel Cadbury expanded his horizons with this mini-chain of upmarket inns scattered around the Thames Valley and the Home Counties. Expect a user-friendly mix of spacious wood-floored drinking spaces and casual dining areas in tune with the original building’s history and heritage. The food is a broadly European mix of standards and more flashy ideas – from beefy cuts on the Josper grill and rotisserie to more elaborate plates of seared Orkney scallops with aubergine caviar and curried cauliflower or rabbit, chorizo and white bean stew, followed by, say, warm chocolate fondant with blackcurrant ice cream. House wine is offered by the magnum and customers merely pay for what they drink, while weekend brunch and children’s menus broaden Bel’s all-round appeal.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Modern European
Food Hygiene Rating


Blakes Lock, Gas Works Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 3EQ

01189 515790 01189 515790


Opening Times

Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 6-10pm Sun 12N-9pm


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1 Review 


05 August 2022  
Food & Drink 1
Service 0.5
Atmosphere 0.5
Value 0.5
I would like to express my disappointment with The Bell & Dragon in Reading

Having had a lovely time last year at a family event held at The Bell & Dragon, we happily decided to book for my very special birthday last month.   A table was reserved for eighteen people and the restaurant was notified that this was a special event.

What a mistake we made!  On arriving as the weather was nice we intended to have drinks outside, but due to the bad sewerage smell, we all made the decision to move inside.  On notifying a staff member, we were told there was a table upstairs!   There was no assistance from staff to the whereabouts of the table, we were left to find it ourselves!

On finally locating our table, it then took an age to get the attention of a server to order our drinks!  After our first order of drinks we were then ignored and had to get our own at the bar, not too much of an inconvenience if only the bar staff, were trained in customer service.  Getting just a drink proved to be an issue as the bar staff were unfriendly and slow in getting the drinks, at this stage the restaurant wasn’t full and servers appeared to be chatting to each other.  At one stage we did eventually manage to order two bottles of wine, but only one arrived and the other arrived after we had paid the bill!    

As a large group, we pre-ordered our meals before the evening – this was efficient and a great organisation.  The main choice of food was fish – what a disappointment, there were more bones than fish.  Many people including myself gave up on trying to eat our meals as we felt that there was a good chance of choking on the bones!  Unfortunately, due to the bad quality of the food served we had to provide food at home for those who were still hungry – not what you expect when going out for a meal.

The final straw was on paying the bill.   We were a large group and each individual was paying for their own meal,  on booking The Bell & Dragon it was requested that a deposit be paid to secure the reservation, which was duly paid by myself.  At the end of the evening having asked several times for somebody to bring the card machine for us to pay I maybe wrongly assumed that the deposit would be refunded to me.   I explained this to the waitress who took payment from 16 of our guests and walked off, leaving two people to pay.  On questioning I was rudely informed that this is not the case and the deposit was taken off the final bill and could not be refunded, leaving me now organise payments from others!

Having been previously to The Bell & Dragon for a special event and received amazing service and attention, we were expecting (obviously incorrectly)  the same level of attention and care.  How disappointing to receive such terrible service and attention on the one time of the year you want to be made special, enjoy time, and celebrate with your close friends.  Instead, we were placed upstairs at the back of the restaurant and completely ignored.  We did inform the restaurant on booking that this was a special event – what went wrong?  If there had only been that little bit of special attention, eighteen people would have stayed for drinks and cocktails… but no we couldn’t wait to leave and go somewhere we felt welcome!


Over the past few weeks we’ve tried to contact The Bell & Dragon, Reading, several times via email, it appears that my emails are being ignored and have yet to receive a response.  Not only have The Bell & Dragon, Reading lost the business of my family but, all the other sixteen guests and friends of theirs who are all local to the area!


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01189 515790 01189 515790

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