I’ve had my eye on Cleaver for a while now, following its arrival in Wokingham back in 2013. Being an obvious carnivore, I’m very surprised that it’s taken me this long to set foot in the place. It’s one of three branches in the UK (the others being Cobham and Leatherhead – so those of you who live in Surrey may want to indulge) and I’d noted that it’s always busy, particularly on a Friday and Saturday evening. A promising sign.
The restaurant itself is comfortable, spacious and roomy, very welcoming and certainly family friendly (I noticed some activity sheets and pencils, plus a kids menu). We took some seats in the far corner which was a good viewing station for the duration of the meal. An open plan kitchen is always a winner, as there’s nothing more reassuring than seeing the chefs at work. We happened to be the first in for dinner, arriving at 5pm on a Saturday night, but that only meant that the service was prompt and attentive.
So…the menu. As you would imagine, it is completely meat focused, and in that sense, fairly limited. However, this doesn’t tend to bother me as long as what they do have to offer is cooked to a high standard. You have a choice of around seven differently topped burgers, ribs or steaks. Not that a vegetarian is likely to visit out of choice, but they do have a veggie burger plus a couple of non-meat based salads, one being Goats Cheese.
Drinks wise, the usual wines (standard pricing for a glass, around a fiver) beers, ciders and spirits, a few cocktails too. My friend Jo who dined with me, was attracted instantly to their ‘hard shakes’ – which are essentially alcoholic ice cream milkshakes. She went for the strawberry ice cream with rum and said it was rather pleasing (priced at just under six pounds).
We both opted for a burger and I went with the ‘avocado and bacon burger’. Mainly because Dan isn’t a fan of avocado, so it’s rarely included in any of our dinners. I, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the stuff. My only gripe is that you do have to purchase fries as an extra from the sides menu, which brings the cost of a burger and chips to around twelve quid. That said, when it arrived, the burger looked impressive and I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the portion of the sweet potato fries that I ordered. A very generous bowl full and the crispiest, not to mention tastiest, that I have sampled to date.
We were lured in by the tempting looking range of desserts, but I have to admit, for me it was a classic case of…I want what you’ve got! Jo introduced me to the joy that is ‘Churos’ and I’m seriously hooked. Lovely rings of deep-fried choux pastry, dusted in cinnamon sugar, served with icecream and a caramel dipping sauce. Oh yes…treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed with this one.
My ‘Honeycomb Smash Cheesecake’ was beautifully presented, tasted pretty great and was of a good size, but my eyes were firmly on Jo’s plate throughout our pudding session, it has to be said.
For two mains, two desserts, two alcoholic drinks and some table water, it came to just under twenty five pounds a head. Having been well looked after and substantially fed, we came away feeling happy and satisfied, which is all that can be asked of any American-inspired grill establishment. I think I’ll be back, and I may even take the kids.
Cleaver, 3 The Plaza, Wokingham, RG40 2LD.