Since last being taken into The Kings Head in Thatcham by my parents at the approximate age of 12 years old, I must admit that I had not been in a rush to go back. I’ve always seen it as one of many “old man” pubs in the town, albeit a big one sitting on the corner of Thatcham’s Broadway (or ‘B-Way’ as it’s also known by the local youth).
However, whilst strolling around town on my lunch break recently, I noticed a sign outside the pub with a a banner advertising their new “gourmet burger menu”, which sparked my interest for obvious reasons.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting Thatcham will understand that this is a big deal – especially in a town which largely constitites of charity shops, Chinese takeaways and more Co-op supermarkets than it knows what to do with.
Working just up the A4 in Thatcham’s Business Village, I suggested to my colleagues that we pay The Kings Head a visit to sample their menu. This review includes two visits to the pub on consecutive Friday lunchtimes.
First, let me explain the menu:
You are given the task of ‘building your own burger’, and with the huge amount of choices on offer, you can really customise your meal to suit your tastes.
You choose one ‘burger’ meat (with other options including steak, lamb, hot dog and even fish fingers!), one cheese, 3 basic toppings, 1 ‘premium’ topping, a sauce and a side. Even more toppings can be added for an extra cost.
One both occassions I opted for the quarter pound burger – priced at a very reasonable £7.99 considering the amount of toppings included. With a pint of Estrella, my meal came to £11.94 overall.
On week one my burger consisted of Swiss cheese, lettuce, onion, gherkin, hash brown, BBQ sauce and thick cut chips.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the burger overall. The meat was fairly bland in flavour, and if I am honest it surprised me when I saw the Kings Head website stating that they use meat directly from the local butcher. Even if this is the case, the meat was definitely on the underseasoned side for me.
Also disappointing was the overall construction of the burger – for example I would expect to see Swiss cheese melted evenly across the patty, however this was just plonked on top. The lettuce – meant to be ‘shredded’, was more just a large leaf on the bottom half of the bun.
I also regretted the choice of hash brown in the burger – this didn’t really add anything to it at all.
The chips were a positive though, and on what was a sunny Friday afternoon, the presentation of the meal was good – coming on a metal tray with ‘newspaper’ to give it an authentic, traditional feel.
So whilst not the best of starts, I’m a firm believer that everwhere deserves a second chance, and I was looking forward to trying something different when I went back again exactly one week later.
On my second visit I opted for medium cheddar cheese, tomato, red onion, gherkin, fried onion ring and ketchup as the burger toppings, with curly fries on the side.
With a group of seven of us visiting the pub this time around (we had warned them that this would be the case on our previous visit), The Kings Head definitely seemed to up their game. Whilst the burger meat looked the same as the week before, it was seasoned enough to offer some nice flavours.
This burger was far more appetising overall – the gherkin and tomatoes were fresh and complemented the meat well, and whilst the cheddar cheese still wasn’t melted across the beef, it was a better flavour match than the Swiss cheese from the previous week.
The onion ring inside the burger was a great addition, and I would really recommend the curly fries – more so than the chunky chips.
With positive feedback from the rest of my colleagues, I came to the conclusion that the experience you have with the burgers from The Kings Head comes down to the selections you make from the menu. With so many choices on offer, it’s quite easy to pick a combination which doesn’t quite work. Perhaps the pub need to further refine the menu to ensure that only the more “sensible” options are on their menu. That’s just personal opinion of course.
Overall, The Kings Head have a great offering here. With nothing similiar in the town, a bit more refinement to their ingredients could see the pub appeal to a lot of people looking to get their burger fix. With friendly staff, a big free adjacent car park (pictured), a nice beer garden, some interesting food challenges and affordable prices, it’s a great option for an affordable hearty lunch or dinner if you are out and about in the area.
The Kings Head can be found at 59 The Broadway, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 3HP. The reviews took place on 07/08/2015 and 14/08/2015. You can visit the website at www.thekingsheadthatcham.co.uk.