14 North Audley Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 6WE
VISIT DATE: Mon 05th Nov 11h50
The GrEAT British “Greasy Spoon Restaurant” (as their chalkbroud proudly announces) is a new informal restaurant from George Hammer, and Tony Zoccola (owner of East Dulwich Deli).
Amazingly, this GrEAT British does actually achieve the feel of a posh ‘greasy spoon’. The signs offering “doorsteps – bacon and egg” and the 07h00 opening time reinforce that vibe. The staff are dressed in traditional white waiter’s jackets and once you step past the counter, it looks like you’ve been teleported to the set of ‘Downton Abbey’.
The restaurant is next to the Commonwealth Church on North Audley Street. Ilvars (who appeared to be running the front of house) explained that the venue was once part of the church itself. I guess it was was a rather large cloakroom or changing area as there is a redundant series of coat hooks lining one wall. The venue is long and ‘none-too-wide’ but visually divided into three, a front dining area and deli, a smaller dining area and a further (potentially) private dining room at the end.
GrEAT British describes itself as “open from 7am for bacon butties, grilled kippers and the Full English through to dinner, where diners can enjoy classic British dishes including Wood pigeon salad with chicory and raisin slaw, Treacle cured suckling pig with “apples and pears” and Maize Farm Longhorn rib eye steak, Pickering watercress and crunchy duck egg.”. However there was a little confusion on the timing of the Full English as two diners came in and were initially told that breakfast wasn’t served at lunchtime.
Everything on the menu hits the bullseye of what stereotypical English food should be, including “pot roast chicken”, “pork belly” and “black pudding”. I ordered the “Kedgeree, quails eggs, Suffolk smoked haddock” and the “Roast Suffolk lamb, Cumbrian bacon and Lancashire Hotpot”
When one mentions the word ‘Kedgeree’ I imagine a hearty mixture of colonial mix of smoked haddock, rice and boiled eggs seasoned with curry powder and parsley. This dish was more accurately described as “de-constructed kedgeree” as it appears as 3 arancini-style rice balls topped with smoked haddock and a halved soft boiled quail’s egg on the side. Interesting interpretation, beautifully presented and nicely done but I think I would’ve preferred a traditional kedgeree.
The hotpot was excellent. Served in a scolding hot mini cast iron casserole dish it was presented with an arrangement of lamb slices on the side and an unexpected small slice of kidney balanced upon a mound of sweet red cabbage. The hotpot was full of flavour, the consistency of the potatoes fantastic. (I often find hot pots with dried out remnants on potato!) Great sized portion for one too.
Dessert is never mandatory for me. I only have it if I see something that catches my eye. Since everything was quite rustic I was curious to know how GrEAT British would present a traditional sounding “Granny Smith Apple & Blackberry Crumble with “proper” custard”. (I did ask what a “proper” custard would be, but I didn’t get a definitive response). Served in a mini hot skillet it was a lovely chunky crumble with a consistency of a luxury muesli. The blackcurrants were nicely soft and apples baked but still retaining some crisp bite.
Constructive criticism is quite minor for a relatively new venue. Firstly, the table for two nearest the deli is quite awkwardly placed. I found it quite challenging to squeeze past the gentleman sat there. He also didn’t look too impressed when the waitress (politely) asked him to stand up as the space wasn’t wide enough for her to pass by with a delivery trolley.
The “Kedgeree, quails eggs, Suffolk smoked haddock” was a little misleading, although a nice dish I would expect kedgeree to be more traditional. Additionally, I feel that if one describes “quail’s eggs” in the plural you should get more than one!
WORTH VISITING NOW?
After at least a week of ‘soft opening’ GrEAT British is now out of it’s soft launch phase, (and no more 50% off food). Maybe it shouldn’t be as workmen were still in the venue so they weren’t able to provide the enticing sounding doorstep sandwiches or anything else from the counter service. They did explain full counter service would resume the next day but I would wait until next week before visiting. I expect all will be ‘bedded-in’ by then.
Take note, the venue was already attracting repeat customers from the previous week during my lunch visit. Both the table next and opposite me had come back bringing a friend. A good early sign for any new venue!