Randomness Guide to London - Differences between Version 11 and Version 10 of Glamorgan, CR0 6BE
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* [http://fancyapint.com/pub/2725 Fancyapint review]
* [http://fancyapint.com/pubs/pub2725.html Fancyapint review]
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Friendly pub near East Croydon Station, formerly known as the Grouse and Claret.
The Fancyapint review describes it as "Croydon's first gastropub", and that's probably a reasonable description of it. Its gastropubbiness manifests itself in the existence of a dedicated restaurant section with table service (identified by "reserved" signs on all the tables, to "stop the drinkers sitting there"), in the consequent addition of a service charge to the bill, and in the greater attention paid to the quality and presentation of the food than is normal for a pub in Croydon.
Aside from these distinctions, it's actually a pretty good pub. There were three real ales on tap when we visited - Harvey's Sussex Best, Adnam's and Brakspear Organic Blonde. I tried the first and last of these, and they were superbly kept. Even a confirmed Brakspear-hater in our party managed to express qualified praise for the Blonde. There was also a short wine list, in addition to the usual selection of non-cask beers and soft drinks.
The food was good by pub standards, and not unreasonably priced. It was the second day of a new menu on the evening of our visit. A starter of salmon and scallop terrine was served slightly too cold, but the flavour of both ingredients came through nicely. It was perhaps a little dry, but a small pot of home-made tartare sauce made up for that. It also came with a few leaves of rocket and a wedge of lemon. We got a free helping of toasted sun-dried tomato ciabatta before the main courses arrived, with a dip containing a fruity sticky sauce of some kind underneath a layer of clear oil. The main courses we chose were all from the short specials list: fish and chips (£9) was a decent size portion, and came topped with a handful of parsnip crisps. Salmon tagliatelle (£8) was about as simple as that dish can get, but perfectly acceptable despite its lack of sophistication. A 10oz rump steak (£13) came with mushrooms, home-made unpeeled chips and fried mushrooms. The steak was perfectly cooked, and quite tasty. We tried their homemade baked "vanilla bean cheesecake" for dessert. Served with tart mixed berries and a sprig of mint, it was good cheesecake. I have no idea how much it cost, as it wasn't on the menu and they didn't charge us for it. There is a completely separate lunchtime menu, including bunny chow, which can only be a good thing.
On a Wednesday night, the pub was perhaps half-full, with a strong presence from after-work drinkers. The landlord is a gregarious South African, who was quick to greet us when we walked in, and was keen to make sure we were having a good evening on several subsequent occasions. The pub has a moderate-sized beer garden, and toilets at each end. The decor is simple, with walls and ceiling painted in bright contrasting colours, and some fairly abstract paintings on the walls. There's a dartboard, a pool table, a fruit machine and a quiz machine. There are a couple of church pews, there are a couple of sofas. There is a TV showing Sky Sports, but it didn't have the sound on.
Overall, I think that this may be the best pub near East Croydon station, and for food, quite possibly the best pub in Croydon bar none. I confidently expect to see it in the next Good Beer Guide.
(Update following second visit: lack of space for drinkers can be a little annoying when the pub is busy, and the number of real ales on tap had decreased to two. Still a good pub though.)
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