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The Devonshire Pub Bar Restaurant 39 Balham High Road London
Jul 6th, 2009 by Olivier

The Devonshire
39 Balham High Road London, Balham
London SW12 9AN

The Devonshire

Stylish design

Stylish design

Cosy interior design

Cosy interior design

The beer garden

The beer garden

The Devonshire is one of a small groups of ‘upmarket’ pubs that seem to cater for a wide range of tastes. There is a bar and bar menu for those who want something simple, a more formal dining room and restaurant menu for those who want something a bit more formal, and a barbecue menu for those happy to eat outside in the beer garden.

It was a nice warm sunny day when we went there for lunch, so we chose the barbecue menu out in the beer garden.

We took a Devonshire burger served with salad & fries (£9.50), and a rump steak served with salad & fries (£13.95). To wash that down, we had a pint of Peroni and a bottle of Bulmers Pear cider (just over £8 for the drinks).

The burger was reasonably good – it had a nice fresh bun and a slightly smokey barbecue flavour, and nicely cooked without becoming dry. The salad and fries were pretty average though, and most of those were abandoned on my plate. For £9.50 this burger was certainly on the small side though – about half the size of the kiwiburger you can get at Gourmet Burger Kitchen for £2 less.

For £13.95, I think we could fairly have expected a much larger piece of meat that the 6-7oz bit of rump that arrived on my plate. It was not a good quality piece of meat either, and had a large chunk of grisly fat in the middle that had to be abandoned (you can see it in the photos below). Whilst it was apparently barbecued, it did not have the flavour of barbecued meat and it came with no sauce or other garnish – making this a pretty bland meal. I had to resort to tomato ketchup and mayonnaise. The fries were just OK – I ate them all because I was hungry.

My experiement with Bulmers pear cider will not be repeated. I found it a bit too watery in the flavour for my liking – a bit like a watered down soft drink. It may be to others’ taste, but not mine and not with a meal. On the plus side, both it and the Peroni (fine) were served properly cold.

Bulmers pear cider and Peroni beer

Bulmers pear cider and Peroni beer

Devonshire burger

Devonshire burger

Rump steak

Rump steak

Details of the rump steak

Details of the rump steak

Overview of the two meals

Overview of the two meals

Grisly fat

Grisly fat

Cost and conclusion: The bill came to £23.45 (plus £8 for the drinks). The quality of food was very mixed, and very overpriced. The burger is substantially more expensive than the much larger and better burgers you can get at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The steak here was low quality – and more expensive than the good quality bavette you can get at Bellevue Rendez-vous. It is a pity because this pub has a very nice atmosphere and décor, but it certainly does not have food of a quality to match nearby restaurants.

The Devonshire (Balham) on Urbanspoon

Harrison’s Restaurant and Bar 15-19 Bedford Hill, Balham, London SW12 9EX
Jul 2nd, 2009 by Olivier

Harrison’s
15-19 Bedford Hill, Balham
London SW12 9EX

Harrison’s

Harrison's

Harrison's

Nice interior

Nice interior

I like the design of the lamps

I like the design of the lamps

Harrison’s is a restaurant and bar located in Balham. From outside it is mostly just the bar area that is visible. The dining area is deeper inside, far from the street noise. The design is cosy and interesting with big “bee colour” lamps. The air conditioning worked well without being too cold. We were given a table at the corner. That table is it is quite large for two people but we cannot face each other.

As starters we ordered the 1/2 pint of prawns, lemon mayonnaise (£7.50) and the Norfolk asparagus, poached eggs and hollandaise (£7.50). For the same price, you can get a buffalo mozzarella, pickled beetroot, broad beans and balsamic dressing, a raw salmon, ginger and soy, or a salt cod croquettes & aioli per example. The main courses were the seared organic salmon burger, wasabi mayo, red onion, caper and parsley salad (£10.50) that I wanted to try because I have never had wasabi mayo, and the pan fried sea bass, brown shrimps and samphire, new potatoes (£14.50). Other main course options are grilled calves liver, mash, roast cherry tomatoes, mint and pancetta (£13.50), rigatoni, artichokes, sun blushed tomatoes, ricotta and basil (£10.50), roast free range chicken breast, pomme Anna, spinach and lemon, green olive jus (£13) per example. You also have meals like fish and chips with pea puree or a cheeseburger with house chutney and fries (£10.50). We chose a bottle of red wine Côtes du Rhône Templiers (£23) which was alright.

Decent red wine

Decent red wine

The two starters

The two starters

When ordering 1/2 pint of prawns dish, I have to say that I was imagining a cocktail glass full of peeled prawns (or maybe shrimps) in a lemon mayonnaise sauce. What I actually got was a large short tumbler (half a pint?) with whole prawns inside it, a wedge of lemon on the side, and a little dish of mayonnaise. And a finger bowl for cleaning the mess after.

1/2 pint of prawns

1/2 pint of prawns

Not exactly the elegant starter I’d hoped for. However, the prawns were very nicely cooked, tasty and not that difficult to deal with by hand. The mayonnaise was a perfect accompaniment. It just was not the tidiest meal in the world, and a deeper finger bowl or even better, a towelette/wet wipe would have been nice. I mention this particularly as (as was my experience a little later) catching a whiff of prawn is not pleasant when you’re eating dessert…

Norfolk asparagus

Norfolk asparagus

Perfectly cooked egg

Perfectly cooked egg

The Norfolk asparagus were good. They were topped with a poached egg which was perfectly cooked. Very hot, and still runny when breaking it. The hollandaise sauce was good although I prefer it when it is lighter with some hint of lemon.

The two main courses

The two main courses

Pan fried sea bass

Pan fried sea bass

Pan fried sea bass & brown shrimps

Pan fried sea bass & brown shrimps

The pan fried sea bass with new potatoes, crevettes and green beans was a meal best described as so close, and yet so far. Everything on my plate – the sea bass, the new potatoes, the crevettes and the beans – were cooked to perfection. The potatoes were just tender, the beans still firm, and the fish wonderfully moist with a crispy blistered skin that was just perfect. What was wrong? Someone needs to hide the salt from the chef, that’s what. A touch of salt on the skin of the fish would have been perfect. But in this case, it was salted to the point of complete disguise of the flavour of the fish (what a waste!). Not only that, but the beans accompanying the meal (with which the crevettes were mixed) were also salted to death, overpowering any flavour the crevettes might have had. Since the meal had no sauce – just a touch of (salted) butter with the potatoes – presumably to allow the natural flavours of the food to come through, it seems particularly a shame to have over-seasoned it to the point of ruination. I’m not on a low-salt diet, but even so, I think I’ve had my salt ration for at least a week now. If I ever return, I would make a point of asking that my food not be seasoned with any salt (safer to do it myself, I think).

Seared salmon burger

Seared salmon burger

Let's dissect...

Let's dissect...

The seared organic salmon burger was ok. I was hoping for something with more flavour because of the wasabi mayo but it was bland and very filling. At least the salmon was very hot which was nice. The wasabi was detectable but unfortunately only just. I think it would have been better if the salmon had been marinated in some teriyaki sauce to give it more taste. The red onion, caper and parsley salad was forgettable, especially the capers that were too soft.

The two desserts

The two desserts

Eton mess

Eton mess

The Eton mess was quite decent. For my taste, it was perhaps a bit overloaded with meringue and underdone with fruit/coulis – but then, I prefer things that are not especially sweet, and meringue tends to be very sweet.

Crème brûlée

Crème brûlée

The crème brûlée was quite good, not too sweet and well mixed with some raspberries. The layer of hard caramel was seriously hard to break but it was well done. The shortbread was alright.Cost and conclusion: it was £83.25 including the “optional” service 12.5%. If it is optional, please do not add it automatically to the bill as it is rude and a kind of forced sale. Tips should be left at the discretion of the client. Talking about the service charge, it was ok but quite pushy at the beginning. No less than 3 waiters, and within 3 minutes, asked us if we wanted a cocktail to start while we were looking at the menu. We came for diner, not for being harrassed. One no thank you should be enough. Now about the cost, £83 is overpriced for what we had. The design is nice but the food does not follow. Harden’s describe this place as “Stunningly average food at not-so-average prices”. We fully agree with them: the food was just alright. For more, but at a much better value for money, you can eat at Lamberts located 5 minutes walk away. And at 20 minutes walk away towards Wandsworth Common you have the excellent French restaurant Bellevue Rendez-vous.

Harrison's on Urbanspoon

British Restaurant Lamberts, 2 Station Parade, Balham High Road, London SW12 9AZ
Jun 12th, 2009 by Olivier

British Restaurant Lamberts
2 Station Parade, Balham High Road
London SW12 9AZ

Lamberts

Reviewed on Thursday 11 June 2009

Lamberts

Lamberts

Lamberts is a surprising restaurant. From outside the first impression is not good. It is squeezed between a store selling junk like CDs, smoke smell remover etc and a Firefly bar. Once you are inside things are much better. It is bigger than it looked and designed in a smart modern way. The tables are pretty close together though, so it is not good for private conversations.

They have an interesting mid-week set menu (2 courses for £20 or 3 courses for £24) but we were more attracted by meals that were not included in the set menu. As starters we ordered the seared venison, white beans, aubergine and watercress pesto (£7) and a chargrilled cornish squid, black pudding and curly endive salad (£7). A few slices of bread were offered with a little pot of oil. The bread was nice and fresh, but we did not find it good. It was a little sweet like a brioche but too salty at the same time. A bottle of chilled tap water was provided too which is nice.

The venison was excellent. Very nicely cooked, tender and complemented well by the pesto. The white beans were a slightly strange accompaniment though, and the plate it was served in may have looked nice, but didn’t make it very easy to eat the meal elegantly. A bit more practicality required. The chargrilled cornish squid was really good too. Warm, a little crispy on the outside with a kind of very light barbecue taste. The black pudding was on the salty side but with the endive salad and the squid it was a good balance. It could have been warmer though.

Seared venison, white beans, aubergine and watercress pesto

Seared venison, white beans, aubergine and watercress pesto

Chargrilled cornish squid, black pudding and curly endive salad

Chargrilled cornish squid, black pudding and curly endive salad

As main courses we chose the wood pigeon, roast foie gras, pearl barley and braised chicory (£18) and a “Rare Breed Beef from the Chargrill – sourced from farms in Scotland and Denham Estate in Suffolk” which happened to be a Galloway sirloin (£18). The desserts were a passion fruit tart, raspberry coulis & crème fraîche (£6) and a four British cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy (£8). The wine was an excellent Argentinian Passo Doble 2007, Malbec-Corvina, Masi Tupungato (£28).

Like the venison, the beef was excellent. One of the best steaks I have had in London. I am glad I asked for medium rare – what I got was closer to what I would consider medium (which is to say, nicely pink in the middle), and exactly how I like it. It was nicely browned on the outside, with just a touch of burn to give it flavour, pink and tender in the middle, but not at all bloody. I didn’t think too much of the accompaniments though – some floury chips and a fried tomato. That’s a bit more what I would expect from a steakhouse or in an all-day-breakfast. There was no choice of sauce – fine, since I like bearnaise – but bad luck for anyone who does not. It was a good bearnaise. I ate pigeons only once previously, and that was in 1986. They were pigeons I hunted when I lived in Ivory Coast, so I was curious about eating that meat again. I am glad to report the wood pigeon was perfectly cooked and the meat was tender. Actually I chose that meal mostly for the roast foie gras, it happened it was served with a wood pigeon ;-) The foie gras was excellent with a wonderful taste and melting smoothly in the mouth!

Passo Doble 2007

Passo Doble 2007

Galloway sirloin

Galloway sirloin

The wood pigeon with the roast foie gras on top

The wood pigeon with the roast foie gras on top

The four British cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy were good and served with oatcakes – but for £8 I cannot help comparing the 4 cheeses chosen for you at Lamberts with the fantastic cheese board and wide selection the customer gets to choose from at Bellevue Rendez-vous not far away for about the same price. The passion fruit tart was very good – and for once they got the accompaniments exactly right. The tart itself was a little too sweet for my taste, but it was nicely balanced by the raspberry coulis and creme fraiche – both of which were sour. The overall effect was just right.

Four British cheese

Four British cheese

Passion fruit tart

Passion fruit tart

Cost and conclusion: it was £103.50 including the “discretionary service charge of 12.5%”. You know I am against the service charge automatically added to the bill. It should be up to the client to decide what he wants to give, or not. The first bill came with an error overcharging me because of a set menu being added to the bill. The waitress apologised and quickly corrected the mistake without discussion. Talking about the service, it was friendly and efficient. Details would be given on each cheese, the kind of cow breed per example. It is nice to see the waitresses being involved in what they serve. It is a little difficult to evaluate Lamberts. The food was good but not perfect and a little overpriced. Not far away and in a much better surrounding than Balham train station (next to Wandsworth common) you can go to Chez Bruce which is a French style Michelin-starred restaurant where the set menu costs £40 for three courses. It will be more expensive but it is also one of the top restaurants in London. Near Chez Bruce you have Bellevue Rendez-vous which is a family run French restaurant with an excellent value for money (around £70 for two, also three courses and bottle of wine included).

Lamberts on Urbanspoon

Cattle Grid restaurant 1, Balham Station Road, London UK
May 14th, 2009 by Olivier

Cattle Grid restaurant
1, Balham Station Road
London SW12 9SG
Tel. 020 8673 9099

Cattle Grid

Reviewed on Thursday 14 May 2009

Cattle Grid restaurant in Balham

Cattle Grid restaurant in Balham

The Cattle Grid restaurant in Balham is located right in front of the Balham train station, you cannot miss it, especially with the big cow on the sidewalk ;-)
They do not have table service so you have to order at the counter in front of the kitchen. You can actually see your steaks being cooked. We ordered a 10oz Sirloin with a green peppercorn sauce served with chips and watercress and a full rack of baby back pork ribs served with chips. Actually I wanted a 16oz T-Bone but it was not available so I had the pig instead. A little surprising to be out of stock since it was not that late, just past 8pm. Many beers from Australasia so we decided to go with the NZ Mac’s Gold which were not bad at all. The dinner was disappointing: the sirloin was good, decently cooked but the green peppercorn sauce was seriously bad to the point it had to be avoided. It was better to eat the steak with some mayonnaise than with the sauce (see the last photo, you can see a little bit of the sirloin with mayonnaise I tried). We really wondered what happened to that sauce since it is not that hard to make a pepper sauce (actually we suspected it was ‘off’…). The rack of ribs had also its share of surprise: it was not hot at all and even on the cold side, as if it was cooked an hour ago. That was a real shame since it tasted good (it was marinated in a good barbecue sauce) and the meat could be very easily detached from the bones. No need for fingers. I was very upset because this could have been an excellent meal if served normally hot. It should have been so easy to put it under the grill for a few minutes to have it warm! The fries were good, and hot at least.

NZ Mac's Gold beer!

NZ Mac's Gold beer!

cattle1

10oz Sirloin with a green peppercorn sauce served with chips and watercress

Full rack of baby back ribs served with chips

Full rack of baby back ribs served with chips

Overview of the two plates

Overview of the two plates

The meat was very easy to detach

The meat was very easy to detach

Cost and conclusion: it was a little over £33 for the sirloin, the ribs and two beers. The value for money isn’t bad but being served a room-temperature rack of ribs and running out of T-bones at 8pm for a steakhouse is not acceptable (not to mention the peppercorn sauce issue).

Cattle Grid on Urbanspoon


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