Thursday, 19 January 2012

Granger & Co

Of late I’ve been solo dining a lot less as I’ve recently rejuvenated my dinner dates with MsMarmitelover. Of my entire regular dining companions she’s the most fastidious nitpicker and quite rightly so for she’s a prolific and thoroughly informed cook. Through her supper club and book, she has become influential and therefore deserves her place on the pedestal. But she’s also one who wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t suffer fools gladly…ask her a stupid question and she’ll hit you well below where it hurts with a snappy answer. She has a simple and very certain opinion about food related things, she’s my kinda pal.

My intense craving for eggs one Sunday morning led to my initial suggestions of either this or this, but they were vetoed because she’d ‘been there and done that, where else?’ We ended up at Granger & Co, we'd fallen for the rage about it.

In a manner that doesn’t encourages a longwinded prose, we both found Granger & Co disappointing. In fact MsMarmitelover more so than I, she felt let down by the blandness of the food and the lack of feedback from the waiting staff. Personally I thought the service was more than ok, the white T-shirt-clad staff were still acclimatising and burning in, they were polite enough to all the diners and I daresay worryingly too meek to report back about our disgruntlement to their managers as well. This is after all an allegedly all-perfect but casual eating joint created by an all-perfect geezer (who can do no wrong) for the near-perfect chi chi luvvies of Kensington and Chelsea. Like Daylesford Organic and Nicole Farhi’s 202 on the same road, Granger & Co has become a sacred hangout of the Notting Hill fraternity and so to speak negatively about it would result in immediate deportation from the area.

Bill’s Bloody Mary with Belvedere vodka.

Frigging expensive at £8.50 a glass! Any tomato juice bought off the shelf should have at least 20% salt in it to give it bite but the juice utilised at Granger & Co was probably of the usual organic sort sanctioned by the health-nazi brigade with absolutely no extras added; it tasted diluted at best
. And as for the posh vodders - being forever and unashamedly uncouth that I'm, I couldn’t tell the difference between it and this. Incidentally my favourite Bloody Mary resides here.

MsMarmitelover’s ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana & honeycomb butter.

This was a dish Lisa Markwell for The Independent described as ‘sweet pillows of joy’. Most pillows, whether as a slumbering accessory or purely edible, are a joy anyway but not the above. It was sadly less satisfying than this humble effort. And what took the final piss was the total absence of Ms Markwell’s ‘unadvertised but very welcome jug of syrup’ to go with her pillows…MsMarmitelover, you’ve been undeservingly denied!

Fragrant fish curry with jasmine rice & cucumber relish.

First and foremost, the cucumber relish was simply pathetic and lamentably perfunctory. The curry itself was Indian-inspired but the omission of fenugreek, garlic and additional chillies was hugely disappointing. I’m not denying that the dish was fragrant enough, the sprinkling of the fried shallots and coriander leaves were enough to assure one’s olfaction was still sound. This was one slapdash creation of mercurial proportions that took the piss of out my taste buds and wallet.

White Men Can't Jump and nor can they make a curry. If Bill’s intention was to create the best curry that’s both virtuously mild and bland then he’s been beaten a long time ago by the Japanese. He’s better off borrowing a few recipes from the Aussies’ neighbours of South East Asia or since he’s living in London now, traipse down to Southall and sample some proper masala fish.

Scrambled eggs with sourdough toast.

I left the saving grace till last. Bill, the redoubtable ‘egg master’ managed to live up to his tag. It was the silkiest, creamiest and eggiest egg dish I’ve eaten. It was fantastic. When it comes to scrambled eggs, the man’s a genius!

But would I come back, no not unless someone’s footing the bill. Granger & Co is affectedly trendy, fashionable, unavoidably pretentious and indignantly expensive.

175 Westbourne Grove
London W11 2SB


theundergroundrestaurant said...

Ok, to add a few comments: I love Bill Granger's books and style of food so I was predisposed to like it.
I did think it was overpriced.
The Bloody Mary would have been great but we both had to add salt from the table to it.
My pancakes were lovely but even the best pancakes need syrup or sugar or bloody something. I was reduced to crushing a sugar cube on to it.
What frustrated me was that I informed the waiter that it was bland and needed syrup. By a look downwards he should have seen that I hadn't received the syrup but no, he muttered inanities. When another table got the same dish but this time with syrup, that was when I realised it was missing from my order.
At this point I said to the waiter "I'm unhappy" and explained why. Behind his eyes you could read "fuck you you fat rich bitch" but his mouth and shoulders were shrugging "we can only apologize".
It's all very well staff asking 'Did modom enjoy her meal?" but they need to listen to the answer. And if the answer is no then you need to respond adequately.
The fish curry had potential, it was very fresh tasting but needed a bit more kick. The cucumber side was, as you say, pathetic.
Your eggs were the best I've ever tasted.
I was also shocked by the bland modern officey decor. Not at all Bill Granger's style. And why Westbourne Park? Doesn't he know no real Londoners live there?

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Oh yeah and the 'honeycomb' butter. Um what is that precisely? I expected honeycomb in it, either the real sort or the crunchie bar sort.
Surely it isn't just a pat of butter with a teeensy tiny smidgeon of ordinary honey in it?
Is it?

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Also...hehe should we explain to readers why we broke up?

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Finally, I'd be a terrible restaurant reviewer because I can't help giving relentless feedback. If something's wrong, I want to tell them not wait until later and slag it off.
I get SOOO irritated if my food isn't right. That's wrong isn't it? Should it be this important to me?
I'm always thinking how I'd cook it. I loathe timidity with food. I like big flavours, plenty of butter, salt, sugar, oil. What's the fucking point of eating otherwise?
I want to eat until I reach that seratonin plateau of zoned out gluttony. It's not food, it's drugs.

bellaphon said...

MML- for the record, we never really broke up. I just took a sabbatical and scoffed myself silly on nowt but tripe. We all know how you can’t stand the stench of it!

leiladukes said...

MML, I'm with you -- disappointing food puts me in a foul mood. It seems to be worst when food is mediocre rather than downright awful -- I think because, like you, I can't help but think of the small tweaks needed to lift a dish from "meh" to memorable. At least bad food is an experience, of sorts!

Anyway, next time you have an intense egg craving, head to the Providores in Marylebone. Their Turkish eggs are kick ass, great cocktails and service.

Leila x

Dad said...

I'm sat reading marmitelovers (multiple) comments and read them aloud to my wife sat next to me. I got to the very last line about the fact that "It's not food, it's drugs", to which she replied, "tell me about it" without so much as looking over.

You probably had to be here but it made me laugh and just wanted to let you know there's a woman after marmitelovers own heart, right here!

On a personal note, as a fan of eggs in all their guises, I'd want them with a bit more 'form' than the shapeless blob pictured. And as the 'egg-master', couldn't he have got those spinach leaves, at the very least, up the right way? (err ... it IS spinach, right?)

Ooh, btw, Photoshopped or not, as in the past, I am lovin' your first photo; black and white at the edges, colour in the middle.

That is all.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Leila: I think I'm altogether too focussed on food. A friend said to me today that her husband makes a loaf each day. Then she told me they'd been together 19 years.
A beat passed and I asked "So he's been making a loaf a day for 19 years?".
He's only been making a loaf every day for 3 years but I was more interested in his home baking discipline than anything else.
Dad: glad I made your Mrs and you laugh!