IT’S WOKINGHAM’S newest pub. But if it wasn’t for the houses being built behind it you’d never know.
The Oakingham Belle will have its doors opened by the mayor on Monday, but ahead of its opening, The Wokingham Paper enjoyed a sneak preview.
The pub’s ethos is focusing upon quality and creating a relaxed environment everyone can feel comfortable in.
The set-up (not the welcome, which comes as standard) is a new concept for brewers Marston’s, the Wolverhampton-based brewer is the name behind beers such as McEwan’s Special, Bombardier, Wychwood Hobgoblin and Banks’s Bitter.
The emphasis is on fresh – manager Chris Cannan explained: “The menu is all about prep. As much as possible is made from fresh ingredients, even the sauces are made here.”
The pub also wants to be friendly: dogs and families are welcome, as evidenced by jars of dog biscuits and sweets at the bar.
“We want to be a warm, welcoming place,” Chris said, promising that when you enter, the bar will not go deadly silent and “no one will judge who you are”.
He also pledges that his 30-strong team will give “a great goodbye” at the end of an evening.
“We want the food and service to match our guests’ expectations,” he promised.
Unusually for a venue like this, the gastropub’s front dining area is completely waiter service: no need to go to the bar to order a pint, it’s all done for you.
The back area is more traditional, while there’s a snug snug right at the back which can seat up to 30 people, but not at one big table, making it perfect for family gatherings and ensures that there’s space to wander around.
The pub is packed with neat touches: the shabby chic feel to the dining area is evidenced by chairs and tables that don’t match but go together perfectly, while the bookshelves have interesting titles and knick-knacks.
There’s one solitary telly – no Sky Sports, just a chance to catch up on the news headlines.
The beer garden is astroturfed, with plenty of outdoor seating and views of the parkland opposite.
And being a pub, there’s a wide variety of drinks to enjoy. “There are always four real ales on,” Chris explains. The bar has been arranged so there’s not that many pumps, so the staff don’t look like they’re behind bars: “They’re always pouring facing our guests.
“We’ve got a whole section dedicated to gin, and there’s no optics, it’s all poured.”
Chris also promises Magic Time, every weeknight from 4pm to 7pm, with special deals on drinks including cocktails.
And he’s excited for the opening on Monday.
“I can’t believe it’s all coming together, we’re so close to opening. The team and I have seen the pub take shape over the past six months, so we can’t wait to welcome everyone in to try our menu and truly make themselves at home at the Oakingham Belle,” he said.
The Oakingham Belle is on London Road, Wokingham, and will be open from 11.30am to 11pm daily, except for Sundays when it will close at 10.30am
The pub has its own Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Oakinghambelle/