WHEN you leave a restaurant raving about your evening it is a good sign, but when you’re still dreaming of the food you ate weeks later it speaks volumes.

Dining during Covid-19 comes with its anxieties for many, but the experience at The Reading Room, at The Roseate Hotel, made diners feel right at ease.

The hotel, formerly and for some fondly known as The Forbury, offers temperature checks for all guests on arrival and all staff wear masks, and hand sanitizer is provided throughout.

Inside the restaurant tables are safely spaced, and for me adds to the dining experience by being less distracted by those around you.

The townhouse hotel also offers 'touch less dining' in the form of a Safe by Roseate app to order food, and pay for bills to avoid having to handle menus - a great idea, although not something offered to us during our visit possibly due to it being a tasting menu experience.

Inside the revamped restaurant, diners slump into the lowly lit, luxury charm of The Reading Room - which has only recently reopened as such. The restaurant a large space partially sectioned into different rooms to feel more secluded when dining. It is very much a hidden gem, along with its small secret garden, that in my opinion as a long-term local doesn't get enough praise.

Probably not a restaurant you may whisk the family off to on a evening whim but definitely somewhere for special occasions or the occasional treat among friends in my book.

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On this occasion, a friend and I sat down for the seven course tasting menu (£65) with the option of accompanying wines (£40) - but as designated driver I skipped the drinks.

My first meal out in seven months due to the ongoing pandemic and the grandeur of walking into The Roseate had my expectations raised before even pulling up a seat.

The menu, launched on September 1, seemed to include everything but the kitchen sink. Foie gras, black truffle emulsion, scallops, ink tapioca, and pork belly to name just a few - admittedly slightly daunting to a 'non-adventurous eater' as myself.

But, of course, you don't select the tasting menu if you are not up for a culinary adventure.

And that is exactly what we got, a culinary adventure through a menu which proved an absolute symphony of smells, tastes, and textures.

The warm up act - a delectable seasonal amuse-bouche - before the performance was underway with a pressed duck and foie gras terrine delicately presented with a blood orange, pickled shimejis, and broad beans.

A tasty and compared to what was to come simple way to settle in to the show.

Then - unlike most performances - the crescendo to the performance for me came with the next dish of scallops and pork belly served with sweetcorn, ink tapioca, apple puree, miso and coconut foam.

The stuff of dreams and has been the dish I can't stop dreaming about since.

Crisp pork skin atop the tender meat with just the right mount of fat marbled throughout to avoid that jelly-like texture. This coupled with the sweet apple puree and perfectly cooked scallops without a hint of a fish flavour was the ultimate combo.

The ink tapioca crackers a bonus but for me added little more than a pretty place on the plate.

A hard act to follow but the show must go on, and next I opted for the stone bass main alongside pomme fondant, baby courgette, broad beans, and chicken jus.

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The beautifully flaky bass with crispy skin closely followed the pork belly in the high stakes for praise that evening. On a bed of mini vegetables it was yet another delicious surprise as someone who doesn't often opt for fish over meat dishes.

The alternative main - a dried age sirloin of beef in bordelaise sauce and vegetables.

Next was the 'pre-dessert' - a cucumber sorbet with fresh cucumber, and gin and tonic foam - which unfortunately fell flat for me.

All to do with the fact I have never been a fan of gin, tonic, or cucumber, despite hearing rave reviews of the combination. I take all blame for the lack of excitement for this course, and all good performances need a hint of misfortune right!

Despite my personal tastes, I actually think it rightfully deserved a place on the tasting menu as a trendy addition that seems to have proved the test of time over recent years.

By 'Act Six' we were scoffing down a beautifully sculpted passion fruit and raspberry mousse decorated with flaked coconut, a sugar nest, and raspberries. So sweet and creamy, with the bonus touch of crunch from the sugar nest to add some texture.

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But having lost count we were wide-eyed and surprised to find the adventure wasn't quite done yet and the final encore worked its way over.

A saucy but light savarin baba as our final dish oozing dark rum syrup, orange blossom oolong tea jelly and a seasonal fruit surround. A somewhat simple dish which felt like a warm, homely end to an incredible adventure.

The Reading Room's tasting menu was a treat for all the senses and a show-stopping performance of culinary creativity from executive chef Rajesh Maharjan. The surprisingly plump portions exceeded all expectations, making it more than reasonable at the £65 price tag.

A vegan and vegetarian tasting menu is also available at a lesser price of £55, with dishes including wild mushroom cappuccino, a gateaux of Mediterranean vegetables, Tapioca with mango gel ad lemon balm, and more.

For more details go to roseatehotels.com/reading/theroseate