The kiosk is situated just in front of the main entrance to Reading station - there are a few tables and chairs, although most of the people buying their one-pot meals were grabbing them and heading away - probably back to the office, station or on the bus home. The concept of the nourishing, one-pot meal while out and about is an alternative to fast food - the choice often grabbed by hungry commuters on their way home. And while the Stewed! kiosk is new, the brand isn't. Set up in 2008 by chef Alan Rosenthal, Stewed! hit farmers markets and then supermarkets to provide quick and easy stews, curries and one-pot meals to shoppers that had become bored of plasticky, tasteless ready meals in moulded trays. A cook book followed in 2010, which is already on its third print run, and the meals are stocked in many Sainsbury's and Waitrose stores, online at Ocado and at various fairs and farmer's markets around the country.
I love how Stewed! pleases the 'Thai Chicken Curry' and 'Beef and Ale' crowd and also caters for those who want to try newer, more unusual flavours. When I went along to the kiosk, on a drizzly, overcast day (perfect weather for this kind of food, I would be tempted to say), there was a Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Feta stew and also a Persian Chicken Stew with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. You can choose between mash, couscous or rice to go with your meal and you also get a little sprinkling of veggies over the top - in my case chopped cucumber, red pepper, soya beans, spring onions and peas. It really is, literally, a one-pot meal. And it's filling and satisfying; I ate at 1pm and it kept me going all afternoon, which makes it really good value as you're not snacking on naughty things between lunch and dinner.
|My Stewed! pot of Persian Chicken Stew with couscous and veg|
The kiosk also offers coffee, porridge and other options. I can see commuters queuing up to get their breakfast before catching their train to work, or on their way back, picking up a handy evening meal for the way home. And it might as well be a filling, warm meal that soothes after a busy day than a floppy, lukewarm burger that disintegrates all over your lap. Offering this kind of food with such convenience is something that Alan and the Stewed! team should be praised for. I'm really pleased that Stewed! has come to Reading and for me, it was definitely worth the wait.
If you're ever in Reading, do check out the kiosk, just outside the entrance to Reading Station. If you've been, let me know what you think in the comments below.
ETA: 1/5/2014: The Stewed! Kiosk is no longer at Reading Railway Station.