Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

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chris_j_wood
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Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by chris_j_wood »

We went to the Bird in Hand, on the Peppard Road (B481) at the southern edge of Sonning Common on Sunday. It has just re-opened under new management and we all had excellent Sunday roasts (beef and chicken) served with all the trimmings. From the menu, it seems to be aiming for good quality pub food, rather than the gasto-pub fare of its previous owners.

It is a fairly small menu, which in my opinion is a good sign. My heart sinks when I walk into a restaurant and see they have twenty of thirty main courses on the menu. They also had a good selection of local beers from Loddon and West Berks breweries, and the staff were welcoming and competent. We ate quite late, and were the last people dining, but the pub was starting to fill up with locals, another good sign.

The bill was £160 for five people including main course, pudding and a couple of drinks each, which struck me as being good value for a quality experience. Well recommended.

And if there are five or six of you, you can ask to be seated at the central table, which is a glass table artfully supported by an upturned tree root. Unless it has already been sold; it is on sale for a mere £2800.
KeithW
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by KeithW »

I wonder if they'll be doing pizzas if the sun returns? They were the best around IMO.
joe_smooth
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by joe_smooth »

Good news that it's open again and doing decent food but that location seems a bit problematic. Isn't there a new estate down by Kennylands? Maybe that can provide the customers it really needs.

Either way, I always liked it as a pub. I have fond memories of sitting in the garden when I was a kid.
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chris_j_wood
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by chris_j_wood »

KeithW wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:32 I wonder if they'll be doing pizzas if the sun returns? They were the best around IMO.
One of the people there told that they have an outdoor pizza oven, so it sounds possible. They also apparently have some guest rooms (in a separate building next to the car park) but they need work doing to them before they would be happy to let them.
joe_smooth wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:32 Isn't there a new estate down by Kennylands? Maybe that can provide the customers it really needs.
There is a new estate on the old herb farm place, which is probably walkable. Whether that is enough is another matter.
joe_smooth wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:32 Either way, I always liked it as a pub. I have fond memories of sitting in the garden when I was a kid.
Yup. I thought it was a nice place.
Last edited by chris_j_wood on 10 Dec 2019 11:48, edited 1 time in total.
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piwacket
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

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joe_smooth wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:32 Good news that it's open again and doing decent food but that location seems a bit problematic. Isn't there a new estate down by Kennylands? Maybe that can provide the customers it really needs.

Either way, I always liked it as a pub. I have fond memories of sitting in the garden when I was a kid.
Yes, that is good news!
Frequently went there when the Landlord before last was there, with a similar Menu as Chris describes. The food and atmosphere was always excellent and they’d have stayed except that the Pub Estate owners fined him very heavily for selling Loddon Beers, which was much favoured by locals and visitors alike!
The Gastro/Italian never appealed, nor the note on the Menu that you could be expected to wait some time if you hadn’t booked as they’d be too busy to attend to you.... in fact the Menu didn’t appeal much either! Nothing against Italian food, it was just the “snooty” attitude of the Web site that dissuaded us.
The garden was always great in the Summer, so looking forward to re-visiting.... I should think the locals are happier too.
There's no such thing as a free lunch
eddieed
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by eddieed »

chris_j_wood wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:42
KeithW wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:32 I wonder if they'll be doing pizzas if the sun returns? They were the best around IMO.
One of the people there told that they have an outdoor pizza oven, so it sounds possible. They also apparently have some guest rooms (in a separate building next to the car park) but they need work doing to them before they would be happy to let them.

It does have 3 rooms I believe but they haven't been let out by at least the last 4 landlords. They are in the brown building that runs along side the carpark. I saw it had reopened which is good. I think though it is only open Wednesday to Sunday so be careful if you are making a special trip.

The last owners were keen to point out that they had a 5 year business plan and the had come to the end of it. They did try to negotiate an extension with EI pups but they couldn't agree terms that worked financially.

The area lacks a good reasonably price pub food place so will have to give it a try.
KeithW
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by KeithW »

piwacket wrote: 10 Dec 2019 11:46
<snip>

The garden was always great in the Summer, so looking forward to re-visiting.... I should think the locals are happier too.
The garden was good, watching the kites circling, one swooped down to pick something up just inches from our table. The outdoor pizza oven was excellent. We started going there fairly often in summer after the Bottle and Glass closed.

The only thing I didn't much like was all the dogs. Not so much the animals themselves, but the way the staff and owner would handle them while serving food. Maybe they washed their hands.
Mayfield
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by Mayfield »

Not sure if it fits your description Eddied but I had a lovely lunch at the Pack Saddle last week, new chef I,m told.

AWT has a huge menu, and it's all cooked to order...we were happy to see Alex ex Mya, Coppa, The Lido is now working there too.

The last guy who had the Bird seemed to live in Devon......nice food, lacked atmosphere. Years ago it was a very busy pub with great food, but since it's had some ups and downs. I think the dining room has one if the least inspiring decors I've seen in a pub...completely soulless ....
We'll give ut a try 🙂
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chris_j_wood
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by chris_j_wood »

Mayfield wrote: 10 Dec 2019 12:00 AWT has a huge menu, and it's all cooked to order...we were happy to see Alex ex Mya, Coppa, The Lido is now working there too.
AWT?.
Mayfield wrote: 10 Dec 2019 12:00 I think the dining room has one if the least inspiring decors I've seen in a pub...completely soulless ....
To be honest, I don't remember much about the room. Pretty busy when we went in, empty by the time we left (we had booked for 4pm, kitchens close at 6pm on a Sunday). In any case a party of five friends enjoying themselves tends to make their own atmosphere. But I certainly didn't clock any indication of soullessness. It has been refurbed, so may be different to what you remember.

There are pictures and menus at https://www.birdinhandsonningcommon.co.uk/
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piwacket
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by piwacket »

AWT.... Anthony Wirral Thompson. I believe at The Greyhound at Gallowstree Common.

Coo! That Lunchtime Menu is a bit minimal isn’t it!
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eddieed
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by eddieed »

I had a look at the menu online and I still think its a bit on the expensive side, especially the £18 roast beef on a Sunday.

An example of what I am looking for we went to in my Parents village at the weekend. Freshly cooked pub food, done well and reasonably priced. I am talking about things like Fish and Chips, Gammon Egg and Chips, Lasagne, A fresh proper pie, Faggots...and everything on the menu was home made, or from the butchers next door, cooked fresh to order and piping hot. Also not a chain like the Griffin or Cunningman. All priced at £11.95 or under it was excellent, served with a well kept pint of real ale.

That's what we can't find near us - it used to be the Bottle and Glass when Trish and Paul had it (and they were at the New Inn, Kidmore End and The Packsaddle for a bit as well) but i'm not sure that the rents EI or Brakspear command can afford people to serve food like that! I'll check the Packsaddle out again, we have been and the children ate but we just had drinks but what they had was good.
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by Mayfield »

Took a look at the dining room, looks like cream walls instead of Eau de nil and prints with wider frames......We tend to lunch, often in the week so very often places aren't crowded......., when the decor is cool and light, they can feel chilly...bbbbrrrr 🙂
Mayfield
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by Mayfield »

Eddied...looking at the Packsaddles menu it seems as if between 5 and 8pm on weekdays ( not sure if Friday is included ) if you order an adult meal a child's meal is free.

Ate there again today...this time with OH, post voting 😟
Nancy G
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by Nancy G »

Aaaaand the Bird in Hand is closed again. A real pity, the last managers were lovely and so welcoming.
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piwacket
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

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Nancy G wrote: 06 May 2022 21:14 Aaaaand the Bird in Hand is closed again. A real pity, the last managers were lovely and so welcoming.
Hey ho! But if it’s a similar situation with the Landlords as the couple who had it a few years ago, the Pubco owners do make life very difficult.
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Mayfield
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by Mayfield »

Bird in Hand seems to have been on evenings only or just plain closed for years now…

Pretty sure there’s room for several semi’s on that site 🙄
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Bam
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by Bam »

I notice my friend who lives in Sonning Common has switched his local eatery from the New Inn Kidmore End to the Butchers Arms Sonning Common. Has anyone tried the Butchers Arms? Is it ok for honest pub grub, (not designer or gastro). Like so many Brakspears houses, I got zilch reply when requesting a menu online.
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MickEdge
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Re: Bird in Hand, Sonning Common

Post by MickEdge »

Use it or lose it, for these country pubs, has never been more true, even for the good ones.

Recently went to the Rising Sun at Witheridge Hill. Lovely pub in a great location, but a bit off the beaten track. They said it was increasingly difficult to rely on locals in quieter times. Worryingly it’s a Breakspear’s, and would be worth a fortune with planning permission for a house.

With current inflation, especially fuel prices, we are going to see a much steeper decline in country pubs than has been going on for years. Main courses seem to be about £16, probably not enough. Much more and even the grey pound punters, stalwarts of the midweek lunch, will cut back.
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