Wednesday, 14 March 2007

The Greyhound, Battersea

I was reading an article in the Guardian the other day about the word "meh". Apparently it's "sweeping the internet", and although I seem to remember first hearing it from Seinfeld, the general consensus is it started life on an episode of The Simpsons. Either way, the peak in the use of this word coincides very neatly with my visit to The Greyhound in Battersea, handily giving me an opportunity to sum up my meal in three letters.


OK maybe that's too much of an easy way out. I at least owe it to myself to say more about a place I've visited 3 times in the past year or two, and which requires quite a bit of effort to get to at all. It's tucked away in a forgotten corner of Battersea (I'm tempted to say the dodgy end, but then I am biased, living at the other end) and so far off the beaten track I imagine nobody would bother at all had it not been listed in the Michelin for the last couple of years.

On previous visits I seem to remember large square plates decorated with a bizarre arrangement of salad clumps, thinly sliced somethingorothers and swirly, pretentious squirts of sauce. They do still do the coffee-flavoured butter (tastes as you might imagine - very weird), but the other more frilly tendencies seem to have been toned down, and presentation now seems to be more towards the normal gastropub style - ie. meat, mash, sauce, rocket salad. Which isn't a bad thing of course, unless you charge over the odds for it, and in this case over the odds is £27 for two average courses.

My starter was a lovely big chunk of "house" smoked salmon (I hope they didn't fish it out of the Thames), a smaller piece of smoked eel (which I'd never had before but tasted nice enough, like smoked mackerel), a dollop of dill crème fraîche and an actually rather tasty green salad. It was worth it for the thick-cut smoked salmon which you don't see very often, and I was rather happy with this course, although my companion's asparagus and poached-egg thingy was declared "tasteless", and that is fairly inexcusable.

Now you can't really mess up duck breast too much as long as you don't overcook it, and this was tasty enough, with a nice orangey sauce and accompanied by crispy pancetta and caramelised red onions. However the duck skin was wobbly and colourless rather than firm and crispy, and our other main, the venison, was strangely bland. Not very nice at all.

Perhaps I would be kinder on The Greyhound if you couldn't get much better food for much less just down the road at the Fox and Hounds. The F&H is my local, and their duck breast main is a hundred times better than this one. And they don't mess about with coffee-flavoured butter. But I'm going to keep quiet about the Fox for now as I will do it justice with a proper visit sometime soon.

Our bill, for - as I say - two very average courses and a couple of glasses of wine, came to £95. That's way over the odds for cooking of this standard and although the service was charming and the surroundings very pleasant, it just wasn't worth it. I've given the Greyhound the benefit of the doubt one too many times, and I don't think I'll bother again. Quite why the Michelin boys keep rating the place is beyond me - they'd do much better popping down the road to the Fox. Then again, maybe if they did, my local would suddenly double the prices and wheel out the coffee butter.


P.S. Apologies for the very poor pictures. It seems my cameraphone was affected by the general atmosphere of "mehness" too.

Greyhound on Urbanspoon


Caroline said...

why the michelin rates this place (granted I haven't actually been myself) over the amazing Fox and Hounds is beyond me. Looking forward to the fox review!

Anonymous said...

Like the blog! Keep up the good work.

Sounds like a tragic case of style over content - especially at that price!

Incidentally your meal cost the same as a 3 course meal plus wine for 2 at Alistair Little Soho (went the other night) - I heartily recommend it for future review!

Chris said...

Yeah, style over content without the style. It wasn't *bad*, just overpriced. I'll add Alistair Little to the list!

Jeanne said...

Man, I'd be annoyed if I paid that much for this! I've on occasion also encountered duck with flabby skin - wtf is up with that?? It's the best part of the duck!