Thursday, 2 February 2012

London and South-East round-up: the not so good, the bad and the ugly

I thought I might as well balance things out with a report on the less than inspiring things I ate down South last weekend. It's not all amazing street food and wonderful sourdough pizzas down there you know.

The George, Gravesend

This was actually better than expected. It's a pub attached to a Premier Inn which usually means crap food. The George seems to have retained some semblance of independence though, offering a Sunday carvery which isn't the norm for Whitbread establishments. Carvery is usually a byword crap food as well though, so it was almost a pleasant surprise.

The beef was dessicated and flavourless, but the turkey, hidden beneath its leathery cloak of cow, was much better, moist and tasty. None of the vegetables were overdone, a welcome change to the regular carvery mush. Good gravy and a passable Yorkshire too.

Sponge pudding and custard for afters wasn't bad either. Overlook the beef and all in all a satisfying enough meal.


Hever Court Road
DA12 5UQ

Wagamama, Windsor

Sometimes I hate Wagamama, but after a visit to the Windsor branch I left feeling generally positive about the place.

When I'm in hating Wagamama mode I tend to dwell on how average much of the food is, and how if you're in most UK cities the same dishes can be had elsewhere, executed better and for less money.

I was probably liking Wagamama on this occasion for two reasons, firstly I had one of the dishes they're better at, chicken chilli ramen. In my experience there's a sliding scale at Wagamama that goes something like this:

Noodle soups = not bad, can be quite satisfying
fried noodle dishes = ok
fried rice dishes = just about ok
curries etc = awful

My bowl of ramen was quite satisfying, it hit the spot on a cold day. Nice bouncy noodles too.

The second reason was the presence in our group of four young children (in the under 1 to nearly 4 range). They've really got the family angle covered in there, there were crayons and colouring pads and beginner chopsticks all over the place, which generally made for a festive and entertaining lunch.

I want some of those beginners chopsticks in adult size though please. They're like normal chopsticks but fatter and with a little hinge to join them together so they kind of form chopstick style grabbing tongs. All the better for eating more noodles at once I say.


31 High Street

The Kingfisher, Chertsey

Things are heading downhill now. I had the burger here (£8.95) and there wasn't a huge amount right with it.

The patty itself was the high point, generously proportioned and formed from good quality beef. But it was overcooked and the cheese on top wasn't even remotely melted suggesting it had been added some time after the burger finished cooking and the bun was dry and the chips were average at best.

Other dishes of calves liver, steak and another burger were respectively overcooked, not bad at all and no idea because it never turned up after an exceedingly long wait so we got bored and cancelled it.

Not much in the way of beer choice either. A distinctly mediocre pub.


The Kingfisher
Chertsey Bridge Road
KT16 8LF

Frankie and Benny's, Rochester

I can't recall ever having been to a Frankie and Benny's before so in a moment of retail park madness with a work colleague I thought we'd give it a try. Rest assured it's as crap as you might expect.

A louisiana wrap was a large flour tortilla stuffed with some low grade chicken that was more mushy, bready chicken coating than actual chicken, alongside some bits of iceberg and an awful lot of red onion, the whole lot doused in far too much of a one-note vinegary, hot sauce. A bit like Frank's hot sauce with the heat and acidity, but without the flavour.

The chips were weird and undercooked. It cost six quid. Couldn't fault the friendly chap who served us though, so he got his tip.


Medway Valley Park

Côte, Ealing

Another chain, another disappointment. I've eaten at a Côte before and quite enjoyed it, so I did expect better. Breakfast this time. I wanted eggs but not a fry-up. The breakfast menu at Côte had just what I was after.

Sadly when it arrived it wasn't just what I was after anymore. It's not a complicated thing, Eggs Royale, but I do think it needs quality ingredients and accurate execution otherwise it will be minging. It was minging.

The salmon and bagel were inoffensive but basic, like if you bought the cheapest available version of each in the supermarket. One of the eggs was woefully underdone and leaked raw liquid white over everything as I cut into it. The hollandaise was ok but what with the greasy salmon and egg juice it was like eating a great big pile of cholesterol slop.

I didn't bother sending it back because I didn't really fancy another plateful even if the eggs were right. £8.10 for the meal but by the time a small coffee and 12.5% for the (confused) service had been added that had become £12.64. Shit.


9-10 The Green
W5 5DA

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