“Can you review The Grand Central?”

“I don’t know, can I?” Feeling pretty under the weather, to quote Peep Show I needed: ‘a hug in a mug – ‘a kiss in a tube’. I wasn’t entirely sure it could give me these things. Ultimately what I needed was some chips. I firmly believe that if somewhere does good chips you’re onto a winner.

Walking into the pub I wasn’t sure what clientele or vibe to expect, but it was bustling, packed with an eclectic mix of friendly punters.

We were served at the bar quickly, having discussed the vegetarian options with the bar staff, they recommended that I go for ‘Heritage tomato and halloumi, quinoa, basil and shallot’ (£10.50), my friend opted for ‘Roast hake, chickpea & tomato braise’ (£13.00), to accompany our mains we had ‘House chips’ (£3.00).

After ordering, we chose to bypass the busy pub and try our luck upstairs on the roof garden. Bright and welcoming the garden really is my favourite place in this pub. It’s perfectly placed to catch the evening sun and the atmosphere was great, I was even more delighted at being there when I realised my table was next to an old friend. With the evening sun, banter and alcohol quickly making me forget how I was feeling, our mains were up.

The food was very well presented in generous portions; the halloumi was as it should be, not too crispy and not too soft. There were a lot of tomatoes on the plate, not a surprise considering that this was a tomato dish, but I’m not too sure if the tomato to halloumi ratio was on point. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this dish at all, it was very tasty, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The basil wasn’t coming through – if the balance was redressed this would be a fantastic main. My fellow diner loved the hake. Initially ‘concerned’ that it would have been more appropriate to serve this dish with a spoon, her thinking was soon corrected, as she managed to wolf it down with a fork. Both mains were flavoursome and well received. But let us move swiftly onto the standout ‘House Chips’ because these without doubt, and I would know, have to be the best chips I’ve had in a long time. I loved everything about them, perfectly seasoned, crispy skins on and served in a bucket, the portion was plentiful and they were gloriously comforting. If you go to The Grand Central for just one thing MAKE IT THE CHIPS! You will not regret it.

Our desserts were perfectly timed following our mains – I have to confess that I insisted that they left the chips on the table, so I could graze on them during my dessert. For dessert I went for ‘Paul’s chocolate brownie, with salt caramel ice cream’ (£6.00) and my friend, much to my envy, went for ‘Vintage Ale sticky toffee pudding, with vanilla ice cream’ (£5.50). It has to be said that both desserts were faultless, heartening, absolutely top notch. Some pubs and restaurants seem to get brownies wrong, it’s not unexpected, they can be tricky, but not here! My brownie was soft, gooey and warm = PERFECT!

Following our meal we headed down to The Nightingale Room to check out Pete’s Comedy Capers – a bizarre, but interesting, comedy show! The Nightingale Room is absolutely luxurious, decorated with a lot of blue velvet and boasting its very own well stocked gin bar. The feel and décor would easily lend itself to a roaring twenties party, or as they’re now more commonly known, a ‘Great Gatsby Party’.

The refurbishment throughout the pub sets the bar high for the level of service one would expect. It has to be noted the service at The Grand Central is of extraordinary quality. Each and every staff member we had the pleasure of speaking with was on the ball and very well informed about every element of the pub. From the booze to the food, to the Nightingale Room, they had it covered and all helped to make our experience a fun and enjoyable one.

Words by Ellie Talebian