Friday, 13 January 2012

Is It Me? Or Is Granger & Co Bloody Expensive?

After a stressful, and ultimately unsuccessful, Christmas shopping trip to High Street Kensington, I hopped on a bus to nearby Notting Hill for a late lunch at Granger & Co. This casual all-day eatery is the brainchild of Aussie chef, Bill Granger, who has an awesome (forgive my slip into Antipodean vernacular) reputation. Not only has he opened popular restaurants in his homeland and Japan, but he's also published acclaimed cookbooks, and appeared on the telly.

I had heard good things about the sweetcorn fritters (£11.90), and I promptly ordered this dish along with a side portion of avocado salsa (£2.40). Now I know I was in posh Notting Hill, but I thought that spending nearly £15 would get me more than two sweetcorn fritters, two small roast tomatoes, a single rasher of bacon, a few spinach leaves and a few chunks of avocado. Given the price and portion size, the food really had to sing. It didn't. Whilst the overall combination worked, the fritters were a tad underseasoned and a bit burnt at the edges. On the plus side, the roast tomatoes were packed full of flavour.

I was still starving so I ordered some lemon cake (£4), which was, in fairness, bloody delicious. So much so, I temporarily forgot that I was a victim of daylight robbery. In total, I spent £23.40 (including 12.5% service) on two courses and a coffee. If I'd ordered a beer or a glass of wine then the price would’ve easily crept up to around the £30 mark.

Now some of you are probably thinking that these are Notting Hill prices, and I should stop bloody moaning. I would be inclined to agree with this point of view if Granger & Co wasn't a casual, drop-in, no bookings eatery. But it is, and if I'm going to spend this kind of money then I'd much rather do so at a proper restaurant. Somewhere like Launceston Place (in nearby Kensington) that does a three-course set lunch for £23. Come to think of it, the set lunch at The Ledbury, Notting Hill's finest, is only £30.

And at risk of banging on about how much of a rip-off this place is, the menu is studded with overpriced dishes. Piss-taker in chief has to be the Full Aussie breakfast (£13.25), which costs more than the Full English (£12) at Hawksmoor. And based on my experiences at these two places, I'd much rather go to Hawksmoor. In my opinion, if you want to check out Aussie-style casual dining then you'd be much better off going to somewhere like Lantana, where the sweetcorn fritters cost less than a tenner, and prices are generally 20-25% cheaper than Granger & Co.

I know I've had a bit of a rant about this joint (and I've not even mentioned the bipolar inattentive/enthusiastic service 'til now) but I doubt very much if Bill Granger gives a toss. After all, Granger & Co was pretty busy at 3pm on a Tuesday. However, just because there are some people willing to pay an arm and leg to eat there doesn't mean I have to.

Granger & Co on Urbanspoon

Granger & Co, 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2SB (Tel: 020-7229-9111)
Nearest stations: Bayswater, Notting Hill Gate, Westbourne Park


  1. I had a terrible service night when I was there. Completely useless. Shame as I loved it in Sydney.

    Good points re: prices, even Nicole Farhi's cafe down the road does pancakes for about £7.

  2. £2.40 for avocado salsa? £12 for that measly portion!? I usually make these at home and that is definitely robbery. Ugh.

  3. Yeah - i think you have a right to be pissed off. £12 for that portion is very stingy!

    When you get a bill like that you can't help but think of all the places you could have been with that money.

    At least you have warned us. Thanks!

  4. Sadly my aussie friends who love Bill Granger and rave about his corn fritters had a similar if not even more disappointing experience at Granger&Co. And the corn fritters you had here are by no means reflective of the gorgeous ones made in sydney. It is sad really!

  5. I take it this is related to Bill Grangers? (as a side note, I bloody miss The Ledbury, which gave me a fantastic and almost flawless dinner visit!)

    I honestly think Bill is over-rated, it is just a Sydney thing. Do wait until I post my Dukes Coffee Roasters review when I get around to it - blows Bill's out of the waters sigh, wish I could discover something similar in Hong Kong again :(( Egg dishes were as good as I could find in Japan!

  6. nooo! that's such a rip off, imagine what the ingredients of sweetcorn fritters most have cost them, something like 50 p? I mean SWEETCORN, we are not talking kobe beef here.
    I agree, better to go to Launceston Place for lunch. Love this place, have dinner booked there next week, can't wait. No sweetcorn fritters for me!

  7. Perfect Trough - welcome! Expanding on the Nicole Farhi comparison, I wonder how much Granger & Co would charge if they sold clothes!

    Lizzie/Frank - it's a shame some can't see the emperor is stark-bollock naked.

    Kay - it is sad because I was really looking forward to trying the sweetcorn fritters that I'd heard so much about. Surprising they're not up to scratch, considering Bill Granger is now based in London.

    HK Epicurus - interesting that you don't rate Bill Granger's original joint in Sydney. This Notting Hill spin-off is a wasted opportunity, which is a shame, as I'm normally a fan of Aussie-style casual eateries.

    Ute - come to think of it, the only real kitchen skill is making the fritters. Everything else is an assembly job! And it isn't just the food. Being casual, G & Co don't have overheads such as laundry costs for table linen. Yet their prices are bloody exorbitant.

  8. Prices are higher because of the unseen extra-special VAT (Various Appearances on Telly) on the bill. Apply also to Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein etc...

    1. Ha ha! Very good! That said, I think Bill G has charges a higher % VAT than the likes of Oliver and Stein.

  9. Another telly chef taking the mick with hugely inflated prices. His food does seem to be more suited to home cooking rather than restaurant food.....

  10. I love Bill's in Sydney so it is a shame to hear that the prices are steep and the fritters no good at his London venture.

  11. Mzungu - home style it may have been but it didn't stop him charging restaurant prices! The chuffing Wolseley isn't that much more expensive.

    GChick - looks like BG's vision lost something en route from Sydney to London.

  12. Twelve quid! For sweetcorn fritters! What do they do, individually bbq each corn on a cocktail stick before building the fritter one kernal at a time? It reminds me of when I went to Boudin Blanc and a veggie friend got charged £14 for a small plate of raw vegetables. Outrageous.

    I wonder if there is an element of getting-on-the-casual-cooking bandwagon for London? So many places are making their name by doing more casual stuff that maybe BG saw an opportunity and jumped at it. If it's busy at 3pm on a Tuesday, he was probably right. Still, one for me to steer clear of.

  13. Casual dining is very much the fashion, which if done well is a good thing. However, some places such as Granger & Co, haven't quite got it right. And what bothers me (as you may have gathered by now) is the less than casual price-tag! On the Tuesday 3pm thing, it was the week before Xmas so maybe that was why it was busy?