Out of The Grove

Local gastro-pub doesn't quite live up to its hype

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A bit like finding a film rather disappointing because you’ve already read and prefer the book, I shouldn't read reviews before visiting restaurants. According to the glowing reviews in local press, The Grove is “The jewel of Hammersmith gastronomy” and is “is still delivering its triumphant formula with remarkable consistency.” therefore I decided to give it a go.

Established a decade ago, The Grove is a gastro pub situated on the other side of the Goldhawk Road from the more fashionable Brackenbury Village and, according to its advertising, promises “modern European and Mediterranean masterpieces”.

Indeed it is “stylish but unpretentious, busy but welcoming” though visiting the pub on a balmy Thursday evening, our first impressions were a little less than favourable.

The welcome was indeed as warm as promised but we found it disconcerting to be shunted into a small corner adjacent to the bustling kitchen denoted as the “non-smoking” area. Bizarrely this miniscule space was full to bursting with non smoking diners whilst a good number of the smoking tables, which occupied around 80% of the large room, remained empty for the best part of the evening.  Before I sound like an anti-smoking harridan, I had assumed that because we were in a pub that there was going to be smoking around us and that was fine, it was being offered a no smoking table and then being squeezed into a tight spot that was off putting.

However, we decided to put the seating glitch on the back burner and found ourselves impressed by the menu which comprised dishes of “a fusion of Mediterranean flavours using organic ingredients wherever possible, prepared by real culinary artists”

My partner ordered baked camembert with salad leaves and apricot salsa (£6.95) which, whilst being imposing in stature, was not cooked quite well enough to enable the camembert to ooze from its thick overcoat of breadcrumbs. My olives (£1.95) were also a bit of a disappointment as they were excessively salty.

Thankfully our mains more than made up for the below par start. My partner's generous helping of guinea fowl served with a wonderful red cabbage and sweet potato hash finished with a rich velvety gravy (£13.55) was delicious as was my char-grilled rib-eye steak with rustic fries, mixed salad and jus (£15.95 of which £1 was generously donated to The Lyric).

We drank a passable organic French Merlot well priced at £10.95 that had been specially bottled for The Grove and a bottle of sparkling mineral water rather excessively priced at £3.95 making us realize why many people request jugs of tap water in restaurants these days!

Our final bill was £63.45 including £7.05 (12.5%) service charge which was somewhat irksome. Whilst the service had been adequate, it is galling for any establishment to put a customer in a position where to argue the amount of service charge appropriate would make them appear churlish. In fairness, our cramped table had put us in a petulant frame of mind and not wishing to take it out on an innocent waitress, we paid the full bill (including the service charge) and left.

All in all we had a pleasant enough evening although it wasn’t up to the standard we had anticipated reading the previous reviews. We would give The Grove another try although will wait until either the management recognizes the obvious need for a larger no smoking section or the smoking ban is enforced – whichever is the soonest!

Emma Brophy


June 21, 2006