Mondo Sando @ The Grove Tavern, Camberwell

What is a sando, I hear you ask, as you read my review of Mondo Sando at The Grove Tavern in Camberwell.

Well…cambers…a sando is absolutely not a thing.

Neither is a resto. Absolutely not a thing.

Doggo? Go dogging.

Veggo? Eat a dog.

Arvo? Hmmm maybe in Australio.

Photo? It’s a fucking photograph.

Next thing you know people will start shortening technologically produced electronic music to “techno”.

Yeah I kind of run out of examples of words shortened to end in an “o” to make people sound like thick…thickos, but I did ask ChatGPT to help me out and it suggested “Zoo for zoo (not much of an abbreviation, but it’s shortened!)”. Lord Gravy is marked safe from AI in 2023 (albeit as I’m proof-reading before hitting publish, I’ve realised that it is 2024 so I’m not safe from my own stupidity).

Mondo Mongo Sando Wando Bando Gando

My point being, that we have perfectly good words already like sandwich and restaurant, that absolutely do not need us to shorten them to appear like we are about to acknowledge that we have the relevant intellect to appraise Liz Truss for the next Prime Minister.

Some text from Liz Truss's book.  Don't worry too much if you cannot read it...maybe buy her book...maybe
Just a quote from Liz Truss’ book

You know, I’m kind of offended that Roast Dinners In London hasn’t yet been blamed for Liz Truss’ downfall – I certainly seem more to blame than Lizzo herself. We can call her Lizzo, right?

I didn’t want Glastonbury tickets anyway.

What am I supposed to be talking about? Mondo Sando – at least they called themselves mondo.sandwiches on Instagrim.

So if you are living in a cave in Luto or Bracko, then you probably would know that Mondo Sando make really excellent looking sandwiches – sufficiently droolworthy to make me wish I was running Toast Dinners In London (this may well happen one day).

I stole the photographs off their Insto – 2024 and there is still no way to embed Instagram posts on a website, like there is a Twitter post. Seriously, an app run by that conspiracy nutter billionaire is still more usable for over 30’s than Instagram is.

You know that you can have a little corner of the internet yourself, you don’t have to slave your data away to Zuck, Musk and Xi.

Mixmag Mongo Hotline

Anyway, I’m always a tad wary of reviewing pop-ups – I reviewed one in January last year that subsequently stopped being a popup, but Mondo Sando seems to have been at The Grove Tavern for some time now. And it seems pretty popular – it was quiet when I arrived, but by time I left, most tables were taken, there was a fair buzz about the place and there was…oh…live jazz. Well, some people must like it.

The Grove Tavern itself was one of those south London places which has kind of been done up a bit, but you can still place yourself in a pub 20 years ago with racists glassing each other after 25 pints of Foster’s. Maybe it was never like that in Camberwell, but there’s certainly a decorative undertone of “this used to be fucking rough here”.

Beer choice was acceptably unspectacular – Brixton and Gipsy Hill kinda vibe – we went to Stormbird afterwards which had some really cracking beers on, although smelt fucking awful inside. Can confirm The Grove Tavern had no such pongo…though no such beers either.

Roast Dinner menu at Mondo Sando
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Those that know me know there is only one choice on this surprisingly affordable menu – £18.00 for either beef topside or belly porchetta, £16.00 for Oyster mushroom hand pie (a “hand” pie sounds like something I’d pay for in the back streets of Hull in the 1990’s), or a whole chicken for £45.00. My disdain for topside, and love of porchetta means that porchetta it was.

Our roasts took around 10-15 minutes to arrive.

Behold the shine:

Porchetta roast dinner at Mondo Sando
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

ENFORCED CONDIMENT. Urgh.

Bingo Bongo Bunga Benga

Starting with the carrots which did have a feel of cooked quite a bit earlier about them (perhaps the night before) yet were nicely roasted, and otherwise enjoyable.

The greens, or perhaps more accurately, yellows and greens, tasted meaty with the gravy and despite their look of disdain towards the concept of freshness, were also enjoyable – but leafing through the coarse leaves and seeing they’d also cooked the yellow ones certainly raised an eyebrow.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the tenderstem broccoli, limp yet crunchy – decent enough, I guess.

Close-up of roast potatoes at Mondo Sando
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

The potatoes were so dry it was like the trots at the Bank Of England had forced Liz Truss to install an industrial hair dryer on the exit to the kitchen to ensure that the kitchen couldn’t serve the perfect roast potatoes – I tell you, if it wasn’t for the Financial Times, then these would have been better than Blacklock. But yeah, they were dry and old, like really old. Our waiter tried to insist that they had at least been made on the premises, when we enquired as to their quality.

Just in case you do sympathise, sorry, I mean sympo with Liz Truss, I’d like to make it clear that these were the worst roast potatoes I’ve had for some time. You could call them crappo.

At first I was unamused by the yorkie also (yes this is legitimately shorted to yorkie), as it was really rather very cooked and crispy. Yet once there was enough gravy involved, and there was enough gravy on the plate (thankfully given the £1.50 charge for extra) it had some appeal, and at least added some crispy context, and had been fairly recently cooked.

Let’s Go To Bungo Wunga After Dolla At Wonga

Porchetta should be the star of the show.

Close-up of porchetta at Mondo Sando
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2024

Yet we had problems.

Firstly, the enforced condiment. I would like to choose whether I have a condiment or not. My choice is not. If you want to save on washing up, which is something I approve of, then on the side of the plate is fine.

Secondly, it had been somewhat overcooked. Thankfully, it was still moist and flavoursome enough to overcome this, and be on the verge of delectable – but boy, this would have been stunning had it not been overcooked.

Also the crackling was on the rubbery side with just some occasional crisp. Crackling is hard to do right, and somewhat rubbery is preferable to one of my remaining meth-addled teeth coming out, but still.

Despite these drawbacks, I still really enjoyed Mondo Sando’s porchetta – there was still just about enough gluttonous delectability about it, with the added herby flavour from the stuffing, and kind of a Chinese flavouring hint to it. But it could have been sooooo much better.

Finally, the gravy looked like the Exxon Valdez came back to life and caused another oil spill. Have you seen shinier gravy? Yet I liked the gravy. Too watery, too oily, yet it had a moreish albeit mild meatiness to the flavour too.

Mondo Sando at The Grove Tavern

It was a strange roast to score. I’d read some of the recent reviews on Google, and they weren’t exactly over-complimentary, “Honestly the worst Sunday roast I have ever had in my entire life. soggy ‘roast’ potato’s, semi raw carrots, watery tasteless gravy over priced potato sides (sides in general) stuffing balls and Romanesco sauce with parmesan, what does that have to do with a roast dinner? Dry pork and soggy crackling and 2 very bland Yorkshire puddings.”.

So I was relieved that I didn’t hate it – as I loathe giving bad reviews to independents, especially upstart traders like Mondo Sando.

Yet the roasties were terrible, the pork was overcooked, the gravy was watery, the spring greens were spring yellows. There is more to complain about here than compliment, sadly. I’d rather be scoring in the 8’s than the 6’s, but we are where we are.

That said, the porchetta was nearly delectable, the yorkie was fun once I’d soaked it with enough gravy, the gravy itself was flavoursome and the veg was generally alright. I’m not massively selling it, am I?

My accomplice had the beef and really enjoyed it, and scored it a 7.39. My score is tempered, but would be notably lower without my love of porchetta – a 6.82 out of 10. If only it was as good as the Instagrim video

Next weekend, I’m going to upset a few people.

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Summary:

Mondo Sando @ The Grove Tavern, Camberwell

Station: Denmark Hill

Tube Lines: Overground

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £18.00

Rating: 6.82

Loved & Loathed

Loved: The porchetta was nearly delectable, the yorkie was fun once I'd soaked it with enough gravy, the gravy itself was flavoursome

Loathed: The roasties were terrible, the porchetta was overcooked, the gravy was watery, the spring greens were spring yellows. Oh and enforced condiments.

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