Saturday, 17 July 2010

Lunch & Brunch @ Wallace & Co (British), London

The British cycle of celebrity worship goes something like this. You become famous and people love you. You become overexposed then people loathe you. You do something worthy and people love you again. I call it the Jamie Oliver cycle.

Of course, where a celeb sits on the cycle of worship is highly subjective but for me Gregg Wallace is definitely overexposed. It doesn't help that there are multiple versions of MasterChef in which he utters inanities at the top of his voice whilst attempting to spear an entire plateful of food onto his fork. The only good thing I can say about the uncouth Wallace is that he's marginally less annoying than his partner in crime, John Torode

With that in mind, I was expecting to hate Wallace & Co and was ready to condemn it as a vanity project. Some early press reviews support this view and the fact that it's the kind of place that attracts smug marrieds and yummy mummies only reinforced my prejudices. It was frankly a miracle that the chip on my shoulder made it through the door and together with the likes of El Greco, Mr Pak Choi and The Ref amongst others; we were ready to do battle against Wallace and his fancy all day caff.

The thing was though, Wallace was ready for us with free flasks of filtered tap water and charming efficient waiting staff. Disarmed, the six of us all ordered the roast beef (£14.50). There's not a lot you can say about roast beef but it was good quality meat that wasn't overcooked and actually tasted of beef. As you can see from the photos, the portion size was so generous that the vegetables had to be served separately (the photo shows veg for two).

I knew this place was a winner when my normally irascible friend, The Ref, couldn't find anything to complain about. In fact the only minor food grumble came from Mr Pak Choi who lamented that the giant Yorkshire pudding was a bit doughy although this was mitigated by the fact that it was freshly made. My only moan was that the dining room was a bit clattery but I guess it's better for a restaurant to be too loud rather than too quiet.

With a round of drinks and a tip, the bill came to £20/head. Not bad at all for Putney especially when you consider how many places serve smaller lower quality Sunday lunches for the same price.

Returning a few weeks later for brunch, Mr Pak Choi and I had high hopes for their Full English breakfast (£7.50). This was duly ordered and although it included egg, bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, and toast, it lacked baked beans, which I had to order separately for 75p.

I'm a bit of a prima donna when it comes to fry-up's in that I have to have my beans separate from my egg. The waitress said that wouldn't be a problem and she made a note that the beans be served separately to avoid any possibility of bean-egg contact. So you can imagine I wasn't best pleased that the beans were served on top of the egg. I couldn't really give a toss if that was the only problem. But it wasn't, the egg yolks were hard and the bacon burnt, which is pretty unforgivable in a cooked breakfast.

Paradoxically, Mr Pak Choi's scrambled eggs were a bit underdone although they managed not to murder his bacon. Moreover with the exception of the excellent black pudding, the ingredients weren't of a quality commensurate with a £7.50 price-tag. In particular, we both thought that the sausage was below par. Oh and they served our toast ages before the rest of the breakfast, which meant it was stone-cold by the time our fry-up's arrived.

It was hard to believe that the same kitchen that knocked up such an excellent Sunday roast was responsible for our below par Full English. For all our disappointment though, a special mention goes to our waitress who offered an unprompted apology for the bean-egg contact and was a star throughout. It's a shame when decent front-of-house is undermined by a lack of care and attention in the kitchen.

With hot drinks, juices and a tip, the bill came to £15/head. I'm hoping my experience was a one-off, as given the poor quality of the breakfast it wasn't particularly good value.

Verdict: There's a lot to like about this local neighbourhood café and I recommend it should you find yourself down Putney way. Just make sure you go for lunch rather than breakfast. 

Other Stuff: This place is open all day and they also sell a small selection of fresh produce and baked goods to take away. 

Wallace & Co. on Urbanspoon


  1. Hehe... I can't stand the both of them either. That breakfast does look quite sorry...

  2. That breakfast actually looks pretty similar to what I can get in my workplace canteen, albeit less greasy looking.

  3. Su-Lin - I stopped watching MasterChef because of those two guys. I can't believe what they did to my fry-up especially the bacon.

    WB - I bet your works canteen doesn't charge £7.50 though! I love my Full English but sadly this wasn't a great one.

  4. You just have to ask yourself, what would Wallace & Torode say if you burnt bacon and served hard egg yolks on Masterchef... Hoisted - petard?

  5. All the reviews I have read have been pretty bad as well - so good to hear at least the roast was good. Surely the true test though would be to order the chocolate fondant (if there was one on the menu!)

  6. Gworm -whatever they would have said, they would've been rude and loud.

    GChick - my experiences here demonstrated why some people say you should go to a place more than once before reviewing it. This was a case in point with the excellent roast being balanced by an abysmal fry-up.

    Didn't see chocolate fondant on the menu, as THAT would've been interesting. Come to think of it, there was nothing really chef-fy on the menu.

  7. Heh heh it was hilarious watching the Professional version of Masterchef. Greg Wallace fawned all over Michel Roux - it would have been quicker if he'd have just said "whatever he said" when they did the judging. I never understand why people go in for that show - "and your prize is you get to be yelled at and treated like crap for a year".

  8. What!? This not noodles! I demand my money back! ;P

  9. Nuf - funny you mention MasterChef - The Professionals as Gregg Wallace is SO much better behaved around Michel Roux Jr, who is such a class act. In conclusion, it's Torode who is the nastier one. As if we didn't already know.

    BTW, I forgot to credit you for your 'hand-modelling' skills for the Riga post! You've got a future career there mate!

    Sasa - welcome! It's a bit unreal that I'm writing about cooked breakfasts and roast dinners on your first visit to my blog. Normal service will be resumed soon, I promise.

  10. meemalee - just as well Gregg Wallace doesn't read blogs.