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“Not bad but nothing memorable”
Review of Bel and The Dragon

Bel and The Dragon
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Ranked #36 of 624 Restaurants in Reading
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: British
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Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Special occasions, Large groups
Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Reservations
Hampshire
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Not bad but nothing memorable”
Reviewed July 3, 2013

Firstly if you are not driving there or living close by its a bit of a walk out of the town. I'm sure in Summer it is worth it as they have very nice outdoor space next to the river. Décor inside is modern rustic and the restaurant has a few booth type sittings which would be more intimate or romantic if you should wish to ask for them when booking.
If you are driving they do have a car park and on road parking.
The night we visited they had live music on in the bar - not what I would expect from a restaurant but when booking they did warn me so I was ok with that and just asked for a table at the back to be away from it so we could chat.
The girl that took my reservation and greeted us on arrival was very good in customer service. She picked up on a casual comment that there was a birthday next week and dessert arrived with a candle in it - a very nice little touch.
Unfortunately the other waiting staff did not have the product knowledge or command of English to be able to explain the dishes or give good advice. I also don't like the way the menu is laid out which is a little confusing.
If your tastes run to good steak, lobster, fish and the like you will probably be spoilt for choice here. I'm into more basic meat and found the selection to suit my tastes on both starters and mains was quite small. The food we had was fine but for the price I would have expected and hoped for something more. Having said that I have been to Godalming branch and had much better food so perhaps this was just an off night for the chef.
The house wine was very good and would definitely have again. I also had a lovely cocktail - Elderbubbly which was divine.
If you are thinking of going I would suggest you have a look at the menu online and check it is suitable for your party. If so, I think you would enjoy it and I was unlucky to have a satisfactory rather than good experience. I would go again but not in the immediate future and probably more likely to try Windsor. The lady on reception though did make up for everyone elses adequacy.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Jayne147
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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685 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Southampton, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
20 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Lovely food, great staff, great location...”
Reviewed July 1, 2013

We visited on a Saturday evening early (18:15) after ringing up an hour before and booking a table for 3.
This was a spur of the moment visit to Reading and my Mum so we hadn't decided where to eat or tried to book a table. We started looking at around 17:00 and the Toptable booking link for bel and the Dragon showed no spaces so i took a chance and rang the restaurant and got a table for 18:15. The helpful staff sad it is often worth giving the establishment a ring "just in case" so don't be put off by Toptables "nothing available", just ring them!
The place is lovely and pretty easy to find on the banks of the Kennet where the old gas works and Huntley and Palmers once sat (just turn into the retail park next to the Prison). Its also right next to Blakes Lock where I once spent many Friday evenings Sea Scouting in canoes and dingies! How the area had changed!
The restaurant itself is gorgeous, it looks fantastic, the old building is great with lots of stained glass and points of interest. Theres SOME off road parking at the restaurant.

The food is wonderful, we all had starters which, at between £5 and £8, were gorgeous taste sensations! The Poached Duck Egg & Avocado and Salt Water Shrimp & Crayfish Cocktail were wonderful and much recommended. Both were exceedingly tasty!

For mains we had Jack O’Shea Flat Iron Steak (rare) and Thrice Cooked Chips; Linguini of Devon Crab and Fresh Chilli & Garlic Oil; Whole Roasted Corn Fed Chicken, Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Bread Sauce.
There wasn't anything left on any plates and we all agreed that the Devon Crab was superb, my steak was wonderful (rare will not be to everyones taste but I enjoy it, however would consider slightly less rare next time) and my Mum loved the chicken. The single side dish of veggies also got emptied between us.
We all had puddings which were mouthwatering delights.

We all agreed that we were well fed and no-one would be leaving hungry, portion sizes were spot on for us anyway, my steak was great size for UK eaters, food was wonderfully presented, the tastes were great.
We had Beer and wine to accompany the meal (just the one drink each), the wine was very nice as and flavoursome as was the IPA. No problems with them at all!
We weren't rushed, the staff were highly attentive, the food was great. Pretty much everything you could ask for from a meal out!

When we got the bill we paid by card and we noticed a 10% tip was included and we asked our waitress how that worked and decided not to add to the corporate pot that got doled out from the business and went with a 10% cash tip instead, the cash still got put in a pot and shared but they got it that night.

Only quibble (and a tiny one) was the prices. Although the setting, food and staff were all great, it just felt like a place we will go as a treat when we have cash to splurge rather than somewhere we will consider just popping out for a meal, but we hugely enjoyed Bel and the Dragon and will go back... just not every time we are visiting Reading! The restaurant is very busy so there is no prospect of prices dropping... and I would go back but there will just be a little alarm bell reminding me its not budget eating! Overall we ate and drank well for just under £40 a head (including 10% service) which wasn't bad for what we had but is at the top end of my budget for a Saturday night dinner.

Other meanderings:
My Mum was born and bred only a little way down the Kennet back towards the center of Reading so this was a revelation for her as she hadn't visited this part of redeveloped Reading for years. She loved it. It was easy for her to access (shes not great at walking any more) and had disabled parking spots. She also found out that they are open at lunchtimes so is planning on visiting with her friends for a coffee, light lunch and a shared taxi. Theres the Blakes Lock Riverside museum right next door which they also plan on visiting at the same time.
Great location, great service, great food... maybe I just dont like spending money!!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Sandanista
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baughurst, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
164 reviews
78 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“interesting building”
Reviewed June 28, 2013

The restaurant is located in an old pumping station next to a river (or canal) with outside seating that must be nice if the sun shines. There used to be a moored boat that was part of the restaurant, but it wasn't there when we visited. It is a bit off the beaten track but worth making the effort for.

Food is good although the menu isn't very exciting.

Service was good and attentive.

Good selection of drinks and beers.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank MWC2409
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Nice but I think expensive”
Reviewed June 25, 2013

We had a meal on a Saturday night and the food was very good. My only real complaint is that the costs are set pretty expensive and I thought the starters were limited. For example a duck dish is £20 and comes with some root veg and potatoes and I thought £15 would have been nearer the price. The same for 4 scallops, bacon and pea puree as I thought £12 was over priced.

As I opened with, the food is good quality but I would have prefered to have spent a tiny bit more and had Michelin Star food at L'Ortolan or less and eaten similar in central Reading.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Adam G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reading, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great building, staff and food; disappointing for kids”
Reviewed June 25, 2013

Had family lunch here for Fathers day. Seven of us and had lovely round table in its own semi-private booth. Good range on menu, very friendly staff. Lovely setting with the beautiful old building and canal outside, although after a while the acoustics made it very noisy and difficult to hold a conversation across the table. Feels very child friendly but menu very limited and expensive for what you get - the spaghetti pomodoro was a smallish portion with runny, insipid sauce and no parmesan cheese; when asked, they were able to bring a few shavings of cheese, no grated cheese available

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Bryony77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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