The Bedford, Balham

Regular readers will know that I am trying to combine culture with dining. Being, from Hull, the UK’s official City Of Culture, my cultural leanings should come as no surprise to you.

So this week’s attempt at pre-roast culture, was going to watch my football team, Hull City AFC (don’t forget the AFC), in south London. See – I told you I would make it to proper south London one day (Richmond doesn’t quite count). And yes, football is culture, you poncey Tate Modern twats.

Selhurst didn’t seem to have an over-abundance of dining establishments, and I thought it quite possible that we may need to escape the area, given that the last time I went to an away game in London I had a glass bottle thrown at me (ahhh the culture) – one can only assume due to my earlier mastication of a battered jumbo sausage (and you go to the ballet every week, do you?).

So I found a place in Balham, a few stops from Selhurst. Balham is apparently an up-and-coming area of London – our establishment of choice was The Bedford, in Balham – a venue with several floors and a beer garden that resembled a prison cell (the barman’s description and I certainly agreed). Apparently it does music, theatre, comedy and food, along with beer.  Overall it was rather ramshackle and apparently still celebrating being “pub of the year”.  In 2002.

Booking was not easy. No ability to do so on the very slow and glitchy website – I tried e-mailing but had no response. Telephone it was.  Ahhh, 2002, the days before the internet arrived.  At least in Hull.

I was a little apprehensive about going to both the football and the roast. I don’t normally check Trip Advisor as I don’t want to cloud my judgement/expectations, but I was drunk on Friday night from playing beer pong (told you I am cultured) and decided to have a gander. The reviews were mixed – though next to no mention of what the food was like.

Possibly because nobody eats there. Upon arrival, we had the pick of all but one table. Ominous.

Signs were similarly ominous prior to the football. There were two games left of the season. We had to win both of our last games – firstly this one against Crystal Palace (we hadn’t won away since September), then against Tottenham who are second in the league. Oh yeah, and hope one of our relegation rivals lost on the last day of the season.

Hmmmm.

I got to the bar and ordered a pint of beer. There were two options for a roast – beef or chicken. Unless I wanted to truly punish myself with a nut roast, then the only available option was the beef – for I had had chicken the week before. For £15.00.  They brought over some ketchup and mayonnaise for us.

Yep.

And at the football, once the stewards had confirmed that I did not have any weapons on me, I made my way to the bar and ordered a beer. Actually, that’s a lie. I ordered a bottle of Carlsberg – without the lid, of course, for it would be likely that I would throw it at someone. Clearly I was not the only one disapproving of Carlsberg being the only beer available as many of the younger supporters deemed it necessary to throw much of it in the air and over each other.

The game kicked off. Our reliable Italian defender fucked up, they scored. Losing 1-0 after 3 minutes. Great start.

Our roast dinners arrived. Well, two of the three. It looked crap. I stabbed a carrot and it flew onto the rather stickytable. An equally good start.

The carrots were pretty solid. Either boiled or steamed, they were boring, plain and solid. Unlike our defence.

Then I moved onto the cauliflower. Nothing was wrong with it. But it really wasn’t spectacular or interesting. Just very, very ordinary. A bit like the game – we passed the ball around to very little effect, as if we were playing a pre-season friendly – or perhaps as if we were already down.

The Bedford did at least oblige with tenderstem broccoli. Again a bit too undercooked for my preferences.

Things got worse. We let in a second goal. And then I tucked into the roast potatoes. Only 3 small roast potatoes were supplied but this was more than enough. They were rubbery on the outside, lukewarm on the inside and generally rather anaemic. You could say stillborn – like my football team.

Half-time arrived and I was resigned to relegation. Half-way through the roast and I was resigned to finishing off a crap season, I mean, dinner.

There was some hope. The Yorkshire pudding was half-decent – homemade, and slightly larger than small – I was kind of expecting the ignominy of an Aunt Bessie to add to my misery, but it was a half-decent Yorkie – not quite a shot on target, but a shot, nonetheless. And yes, we had a shot. Not on target.

Then, bang. Goal number 3. A poor challenge and a clear penalty. Fuck. Which was my same reaction when I started eating the beef. Fuck. Well-done, tough, chewy. I was enjoying how shit it was in a kind of masochistic way. Just like I enjoyed the tonking at the football.  At least the beef had cracked pepper seasoning on it, whereas our season had just cracked up.

Just to top things off, the gravy was crap too. Thin, watery and virtually non-existent. Marginally preferable to Bisto but that says little. It might even have been Bisto. More arrived upon request – though barely enough for one, let alone three of us.

Oh yeah, and we let in a 4th goal.

All in all, a shit day. Enjoyably so though.

I can recommend not ever being a football fan. You are paying good money out for misery. We finished the season on 34 points and are relegated.

I also recommend not eating a roast dinner at The Bedford in Balham. You are paying good money for misery. I am giving this roast dinner a rating of 3.4 out of 10.

It could have been worse. We could have finished bottom. I have had worst roast dinners in my life, but this is the worst roast dinner that I have had in a London pub so far. I feel short-changed and would have been very angry were I already not so disillusioned after the football.

Having a shit roast dinner just felt appropriate.

However, I recommend that you avoid this place for roast dinners. I was going to scratch an abbreviated version of this review on the toilet wall, but didn’t feel it could compete linguistically with “FUCK MILLWALL”.  We left in search of dessert – as we certainly were not giving that place any more of our money.

Next week I’ll be having a better roast dinner. I assume. It doesn’t get too much worse than this.

ps If you are the really hot Portuguese woman in the confused bar near Victoria station with the cracking pair of boobs, then thank you for making sure I had some good memories from yesterday.

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