Randomness Guide to London - Differences between Version 10 and Version 9 of Glamorgan, CR0 6BE

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category='Beer Garden,Food Served Evenings,Food Served Lunchtimes,Free House,Good Beer Guide 2010,Pubs,Real Ale'
category='Beer Garden,Food Served Evenings,Food Served Lunchtimes,Free House,Good Beer Guide,Good Beer Guide 2010,Pubs,Real Ale'

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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Last visited by elvum et al, 26th June 2008.

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