The Grove, Balham

Please note that this review is from February 20, 2018 and may be out of date...restaurants sometimes get better, get worse, employ a new chef or end up with new management.

Here’s a review of The Grove in Balham, and here is a list of some things that I expect to wait a very long time for:

The Metropolitan line after a few flakes of snow.
Donald Trump to be impeached.
People to realise that socialism has repeatedly failed across the world, and the United Kingdom is not some special kind of exception where human instincts and desires can be centrally controlled.
All pubs in London to release that a thimble of gravy is not sufficient.
My next blow job.

This Sunday I decided to risk another trip to Balham – last time I went to Balham I ended up at the abominable Bedford. We picked The Grove, somewhere that had been recommended to me by a reader some months back.

Actually had 9 people attending this time – the table was originally booked for 4 but had to expand it twice – my e-mail requests were not answered, and it took a few attempts on the dog and bone before we finally had some success. Some of those attending were apparently big fans of the blog – and why wouldn’t you be? On the off chance that I gain some kind of popular acclaim – or perhaps notoriety might be a more suitable word, I might even do some kind of special event. Whoa. Like when I have 1000’s of followers (also known as people easily amused by drivel). I think that is your cue to invite friendst, share and retweet. You should probably send a link to your ex – could be a good excuse to have an ‘old time’s sake’ fuck.

I duly arrived, slightly early and waited at the bar for a drink. And waited. And waited. My ex-boss who was one of my accomplices (didn’t sack me) actually came to check that I hadn’t run away as I had been waiting that long for an apple juice – hell my 3 month detox nearly even finished during the time I waited.

The wait was over, and I headed back to the table with my £4.05 pence pint of apple juice. I know.

The Grove was quite a large pub – it had some teal coloured walls…shock, along with a very long curved bar in the middle (with very slow bar-staff). It was definitely a step-up from your average Wetherspoons, though didn’t have the style of many of the other places I have visited – some quite large seating areas so assuming you are patient enough to get a response, it is perfect for sizeable groups too.

There were a veritable selection of roast dinners available – not exactly the same as appears on their website menu. Beef, chicken and pork belly were the usual choices, but to spice matters up there was a venison & sausage meatloaf – sadly nobody tried this. And there was a mushroom, sweet potato and onion wellington – which doesn’t sound as hellish as some veggie grub. Meats priced between £15.00 and £16.50, veggie at £13.00.

Roast dinner menu at The Grove, Balham
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

I went for the chicken, I quite fancied the idea of garlic and rosemary flavour.

And waited.

And waited.

And continued to wait.

We waited some more.

Southern rail train
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

Perhaps the waiting staff were on strike?

Or maybe the chef was at lunch?

And continued to wait…

We waited so long that there was even a new UKIP leadership contest announced.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

One of my accomplices then went to ask at the bar how long it would be, as she had to leave in 15 minutes to go to work.

A bit more waiting.

And yay – finally the roasts started to arrive. Of course, my unlucky accomplice on the way to work received her roast dinner last. Last – and slowly.

Good job I had eaten breakfast.

It took around an hour from ordering the roast dinner at The Grove to receiving it, maybe it was 1 hour and 15 minutes. The child’s dinner arrived after just 20 or so minutes. We waited a whole fucking hour (and a bit). And it wasn’t exactly as if the pub seemed that busy – I barely recall seeing any other plates being taken to tables. If the wait was going to be that long, some communication would have been appreciated.

Oh well, maybe that means that they had the time to actually roast the potatoes properly. A ha ha ha ha ha ha. I’m so fucking funny sometimes.

Chicken Sunday roast at The Grove, Balham
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

Let’s switch off the moaning and start with a positive. Jerusalem Artichoke. On a roast dinner. It took a while for all of us combined to work out what these circular slices were – they almost looked a bit like slices of pineapple. This is the first time that I’ve eaten it, let alone been served it (to my knowledge) and I greatly appreciate ingenuity. It tasted of some kind of mix of potato, fruit and nut – arguably more on the potato. I liked it.

There was some savoy cabbage on there – fairly bland and inoffensive – I don’t really have much to add to that.

Then there was one carrot. Well, half a carrot, vertically-sliced, roasted – it did taste a tad burnt in spots though.

I had quite a few parsnips on the plate. These were nice, but roasted a little too long and were very soft.

Of course, the roast potatoes were anything but what one desires – or deserves after the humongously long wait for food. Two very large roast potatoes, quite solid on the inside with no evidence of crispyness on the outside. Pretty bad roast potatoes – and probably came from a very large sack of frozen, pre-cut roast potatoes. Even Aunt Bessie’s roast potatoes are better. Hell even Iceland…actually lets not go there.

The Yorkshire pudding looked very impressive, yet was really dry and brittle. I don’t know why I persisted with eating it.

Cauliflower cheese at The Grove, Balham
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

I also shared a side of cauliflower cheese. As this was not part of the main roast dinner at The Grove, I will not take account of this in the scoring, which is a shame as it was a good dish. For the price, it was really good value – one dish was easily enough for two people. There was a hint of pepper, some goldenness to the cheese – and you could actually taste the cheese. I never quite pinned down what it was – perhaps a blue cheese, perhaps stilton?

Chicken roast dinner at The Grove, Balham
© Copyright – Roast Dinners In London 2018

Now the chicken didn’t really taste of garlic or rosemary. This could easily be my fault, as whenever I read a recipe requirement of 1 garlic clove, I question whether they mean 2 or 3 cloves. But I did struggle to pick out much if a hint of either. It was a sizeable half a chicken – none of this Nando’s pathetic excuse for chicken (oh but our secret sauce makes up for the terrible value for money…oh please), the breast was just a tiny bit dry but overall it was a good half a chicken. Oh and if you are even vaguely bothered about the KFC chicken drought – just get fucked.

I am advised that beef was ‘lovely’ away from the fatty parts, and the pork belly looked quite sexual – with fennel seeds on top. Alas the pork belly eating companion didn’t even have time to eat half of her roast dinner, let alone for me to ask for her opinion, by the time she had to leave.

Chicken Cottage is king.

There was a tiny stuffing ball. Suspiciously perfectly round, a little too crispy and fairly bland. By the way, did you know that the earth is not a perfect sphere? Whoa. And no, the Jews didn’t blow up the Twin Towers, before you ask.

Gravy. It was innocuous and inoffensive. There was absolutely nowhere near enough, especially given the large lump of dryness that was the Yorkshire, naaaahh, the Lancashire Pudding – and guess what? I had to wait quite a while before any turned up, though nowhere near as long as the shockingly long time for the dinner itself.

Some people dared to order dessert. I didn’t, but of course had to wait for everyone else to wait for theirs, and to eat it. By the end of which I had the perfect reminder that I definitely do not ever want children – perhaps he was screaming about the long wait for the food, though I think it was more to do with the ‘snap’ cards that were pretty much all unique to each other. I’m told that the sticky toffee pudding was weird but good, and the chocolate brownie was ‘banging’. Which I am led to believe means very tasty.

There was thankfully no service charge at The Grove and I didn’t leave a tip either. The wait was so long, the service so slow – any time I attempted some jovial communication with staff I was ignored. The only time we received anything other than slovenly, disinterested service was when paying the bill – notably the only time that service was quick.

I am probably being unkind there – I used to be a regular at a pub in Reading called the Oakford Social Club where all the staff were blatantly on ketamine, for they always seemed so confused by basic requests such as for cutlery, forgot most things you asked of them – oh and the food was dire too.

The Grove in Balham wasn’t anywhere near that bad – it just didn’t seem as though they were interested in earning a tip and I wasn’t interested in giving one.

When I asked around the table, everyone scored it between a 5 and a 7 out of 10. It certainly needs a bit of work to get it up to being a good roast dinner, but it wasn’t without bright points. Generally I only rate based on the roast dinner itself, though the wait was so shockingly long that it has to have a slightly negative effect on the overall score.

I’m going to give The Grove a 6.44 out of 10.

I certainly won’t be rushing to go back to The Grove, and I’d suggest that you give it a miss too, unless you have the patience of a Southern Rail commuter.

Next week I’m going to an area of London that I’ve never been to before. I would give you some more clues but you’d probably work it out.

Before I go, two more things to add to the earlier list:

A good roast dinner in Balham.
Re-joining the European Union.

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The Grove, Balham

Station: Clapham South

Tube Lines: Northern

Fare Zone: Zone 2

Price: £15.50

Rating: 6.44

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Loved & Loathed

Loved: Well it came with Jerusalem Artichoke.

Loathed: Yorkie brittle, roast potatoes large and hard, gravy was the usual Young's inoffensiveness. And it took 1hr 15 minutes to arrive.

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