I arrived back from my holiday, nicely rested and ready for roast action – the first indoors roast dinner of 2021. I was booked into The Guinea Grill in Mayfair – and had pretty high expectations.
Well, I say booked into but I did have a little scare on the way when Google Maps insisted to me that they were closed. It lied (hey Boris) – I assume The Guinea Grill need to update their status – though it took me a little longer to find out the truth as I had forgotten to take Google Maps off car mode so had a very convoluted 5 minute walk there which took 20.
Given my belly size, you could say that I needed the walk. But I’ve done lots of walking over the last week – in the Lake District.
It was actually so dreamily beautiful, it almost made me love my country again – though don’t tell my leftie friends in London. I nearly even thought about giving Brexit a chance.
And then we went to Whitehaven for the afternoon.
Well, we went to Whitehaven and very quickly left Whitehaven before someone spotted my hipster jacket and accused me of not being a Tory.
Pills, grills and daffodils
I also had a competition last week with absolutely nobody to see how many times I could eat meals with gravy in one week.
And then Sunday arrived and I desired only seeds and satsumas. Not yet another big meal with yet more gravy.
Thankfully I was booked into The Guinea Grill in Mayfair, which I had high hopes and high expectations for. High expectations partly because of the £26.95 price tag (it was £24.95 when I added it to my to-do list last year) but also I’d been recommended it a couple of times and seen one of the 846 roast dinner accounts on Instagram describe their gravy as one of the best they’d ever had.
The Guinea Grill is a proper old school boozer on the edge of Mayfair – though whether it is still a pub or a more a restaurant…well I’d probably side on the latter. I feel like it probably has a load of history but the website suggests nothing of the sorts, just the usual basic Young’s website though with the re-opening pop-up flashing up on every page you open, and even Londonist hasn’t scraped up much either – and they can usually be relied on to know about the history of quirky London establishments.
However, a trip to the toilet did help me discover that they won the national 1991 steak and kidney pie competition.
Thrill me, grill me
So onto the exciting part, or what would be exciting were I not already stuffed from eating 4 gravy dinners during the week. THE MENU.
To be honest, I’ve seen so many pub menus over the last week that the excitement of reading a menu is wearing off a tad – the £26.95 price tag didn’t help either. There was the choice of beef rump or pork belly – not sure we had the energy for dealing with a rack of lamb to share (plus memories of all the cute lambs running away from me in the Lake District), and I had no intention of making it even more expensive with the sirloin joint.
And I don’t think I can even make a joke out of not wanting to pay £26.95 for a vegetarian meal in a pub…restaurant…pub. Beef rump cap it was. For £26.95.
My £26.95 dinner took around 20 minutes to arrive.
Alas, my photography skills remain as developed as our Prime Minister’s desire for transparency – my skills being no more helped by the darkness inside The Guinea Grill than Johnson is helped by his anatomical namesake.
Not sure if that helps, but onto the carrots anyway. They were really nicely done, roasted with some charring evident but completely full of carrot flavour – and honey flavour too.
Parsnips similar and probably roasted together, good but not quite to the same high standards of the carrots.
OK, my accomplice took a photograph – is this better?
Grill me, baby
I liked the cabbage with bacon bits – perhaps my imagination but the bacon tasted as though it had been soaked in red wine which was a pleasing touch.
We paid £5.00 extra for the cauliflower cheese for glutinous reasons – it didn’t quite work that well – the cauliflower was a little tough, the cream minimal and the cheese was more evident stubbornly clinging to the top of the pot than it was on the cauliflower itself.
Predictably things went downhill, as per the usual London standards of roast potatoes. 3 roast potatoes – one was totally crud from another dimension, or perhaps last night. The other two would have made decent boiled potatoes – soft inside but absolutely zero evidence of crispness on the outside.
And the Yorkshire pudding was another of those pretty for Instagrim affairs that had probably been cooked the night before or in the morning – evident from how crispy and solid it had become. Interestingly the bottom tasted of honey – not sure whether that was leakage from my carrots, my imagination or deliberate from the chef – if the latter then kudos but maybe make the sides of the yorkies edible also.
At this stage of judgement I was thinking that The Guinea Grill was over-rated and over-priced but the beef rescued matters somewhat. A generous serving of beef, allegedly medium-rare but felt more rare in places (fine by me) – very tender cut, a tad peppery, a bit of fat – I wasn’t bowled over but it was very good.
Alas, it was only somewhat rescued because the gravy was a limp, weak affair. Watery at first instinct and nowhere near as brown as the darkness filter suggests – there was some flavour going on but nothing especially discernible. It very much reminded me of the standard disappointing, watery Young’s gravy when their roasts went through a bad patch in 2019. And it is a Young’s pub.
Oh well – I’d had enough gravy anyway. And yes, all of the gravy I had in the Lake District was sexual.
Tills and bills at The Guinea Grill. Gosh I hate coming up with these shitty headings to make my SEO plugin happy.
It would be fair to say that I wasn’t impressed – especially when paying £26.95, which in 3 years time will hopefully still look expensive unless inflation really does take off.
Yet as much as it had its typical detractions, it also had some notable quality too. The carrots, parsnips and cabbage/bacon mix were all really nicely done – carrots especially. The beef was tender and fairly sublime, even if rump cap isn’t my favourite cut – though one I am appreciating more. Service was good – one young lady was especially friendly and had a sense of humour which is often so missing (and not easy to get right as a waiter/waitress). The building itself is full of pub charm too…it just screamed “why is my Dad not here”.
You probably don’t me to spell out what I thought wrong with it – but I will anyway. The uber-crispy yorkie, the watery gravy, the predictably disappointing roasties – oh and the price. I’ll happily pay that much, even more, if I come away relishing my experience and I’ll barely mention the price, despite being from Yorkshire.
All of this conspires to make me struggle to work out what to score it. My accomplice was much more satisfied than I, and scored it a 7.70 out of 10 – though I feel that she scores most roast dinners a 7.70.
It was a confusing mix of quality and disappointment so anything from a 6.50 to a 7.50 would be fair. I’m scoring it a 7.03 out of 10 – a kind of halfway house with the quality of the beef just nudging it over that 7 mark. There is also a possible mitigating factor in that it was their first Sunday back this year – but that would have been the same for almost anywhere I booked. So perhaps unfortunate timing – but if you are good at roasts, then you should be good every Sunday.
I don’t think there will be a review next weekend as I’m going up north to celebrate Christmas…5 months late. Though apparently my 88 year-old Grandma actually thinks it is Christmas. Oops.
With it being a bank holiday, I imagine that there will be a few places doing roasts on the Monday when I’m back…but realistically I doubt that I will. The week after, should be a special roast. I’m wary of setting expectations, but it could be a top 10.
The Guinea Grill, Mayfair, Central London
Station: Bond Street
Tube Lines: Central, Jubilee
Fare Zone: Zone 1
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Beef rump cap was very tender, very nice. Carrots notably good also.
Loathed: The usual - meh roasties, yorkie too old and crispy, watery gravy