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The Grove (Bar)

Picture of The Grove in Balham, London

39 Oldridge Road, Balham, London, SW12 8PN
Cuisine: Gastro
Tel: 020 8673 6531 | Email to The Grove | Transport: Clapham South | Write review

The Grove Review

The Grove is featured in these Guides:

Best for: a weekday treat near home; Sunday pub lunch.

Great: burger; and banoffee pie disguised as a cappuccino…cunning.

Let’s talk great duos. A bucket and spade; you can’t argue with it, one is useless without the other. Hands just don’t cut it when it comes to digging that moat, and a lone spade a spherical castle does not make.

Lemon and sugar; no self-respecting pancake would hold its speckled batter high without a good soaking of both. Lemon alone, too sharp; sugar alone, just greedy. You can keep your Nutella, your fancy savoury sauces, your sprinkles. The traditional duo wins the pancake race every time.

Ant and Dec. OK, I’m working on this one, but let’s face it, an Ant or a Dec alone would just be a jolly Geordie on the telly. At least with two there’s the opportunity for witty repartee.

A successful duo is an equal partnership. Singularly, the components must be strong enough to stand alone, but together create genius. (Again, I’m working on Ant and Dec).

And so I come to burger and chips.

The Grove - a sprawling Victorian pub situated in that no-man’s land between Balham and Clapham South - is heralded for its ‘Balham burger’, our attentive waiter tells me. And so it should be.

When a burger is named after its location, it’s truly holding its head above the trenches. Expectations run high, and in this case, I’m happy to report, rightly so.

The brioche bun gleamed on its plate, its top hat polished to perfection, sooty griddle lines criss-crossing through the crust like railway tracks. Inside, stacked high, beef patty; medium rare, smoked bacon, onions crisp and gherkins sour. But the Balham burger’s notoriety stems from one ingredient: peanut butter.

No, we’d never heard of it either. But it worked a treat; the crunchy, cloying texture and sweet salty taste adding a comforting layer to an already comforting bite.

But this star was let down by its partner; as if Ant told a joke and Dec forgot to laugh. The tumble weed was audible.

The skin-on chips were at once soggy and burnt, and that’s some achievement. Limp, they mingled sadly on the plate, tired and despondent. And a burger, however great, needs its chips. It was embarrassed. That wasn’t ketchup, that was the chips blushing.

It was a shame. This pub has the propensity to be great. Run by Youngs, it’s definitely a sizable cut above what you might expect from a chain. Newly redecorated, it looks stunning – dark green walls, distressed white bannisters, a beautiful Victorian-esque ornate conservatory roof over the dining area, and cosy plush velvet sofas. The theme is ‘garden’ and there’s Victorian botanical prints on the walls; birdcages encasing tealights.

And the menu is interesting. I started with a special: scallops with mash in mushroom sauce presented in a scallop shell. My companion opted for mussels, and followed with half a roast chicken accompanied by a tangy vegetable slaw, potato salad and those chips.

To finish we opted for sticky toffee pudding and a banoffee pie, which, disguised as a cappuccino in a coffee cup, was definitely what Starbucks should be aiming for if they want to lure back custom.

But where our meal fell down from a strong 8 to a 6 was in the detail. The garlic in the mussel sauce had been burnt, lending it a slightly bitter taste. The potatoes in the potato salad were slightly undercooked. And to combine them with those chips – which we shall not talk of again – was odd. The treacle sponge too had been caught in the oven, which was a shame because the sauce was velvet.

The Grove was friendly, comfortable, charming. If it’s your local you’ll be smiling. But to earn a reputation, draw in crowds from further afield – and pack its tables on a Friday night, which was sadly not the case – it needs to refine the detail. And perfect its starring duo turn.

That Balham burger could be the talk of the town. But it’s the sum of its parts, and someone needs to attend to the deep fat fryer.
...read more

Customer Reviews for The Grove

Average (based on 2 votes): 2 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Grove.

“Excellent meaty burger, nice little sun trap for alfresco dining and drinking late in the spring/summer afternoon, board games and cosy seating inside, fairly decent pub grub. Much quieter than the other pubs in the area.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
The Restaurant Hunter, London (5 years 5 months 22 days ago)

“Recently spent a week in London and had the oportunity to visit the Grove numerous times. We found the pub very charming. The manager went out of his way to make us feel welcome. He even managed to find someone who knew how to make a Tootsie Roll for me. That is a drink left over from the 1970's that no one seems to know how to make anymore. We are looking forward to traveling to London again and will surely make the Grove a top spot. The Sunday Dinner was the best we have ever had. Kudos to Chef. The BBQ was also fabulous.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Joy Mainemer, Boston (9 years ago)

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Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: Gastro
  • Dress Code: Not Specified
  • Group: Youngs

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Venue ID: 19250

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"Fantastic restaurant we eat there 4 times while staying in London on a quick trip, absolutely top quility - staff absolutely obliging - we'll be back??." Which venue is this?

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"Fantastic restaurant we eat there 4 times while staying in London on a quick trip, absolutely top quility - staff absolutely obliging - we'll be back??." Which venue is this?

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