Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Granville

A few days ago I got a phone call from my parents completely out of the blue to see if we wanted to book somewhere for a mid-week meal near us as they hadn't seen us in a little while.

There was a major problem with this.

They basically just asked me to make a restaurant decision.  They apparently do not know me at all.   I have a word document on my desktop at work that is filled with lists of restaurants to try and so can flip flop for days before committing to an actual booking.  A lot of them are fish based and in the seaside towns which I discounted immediately as I thought the Oyster Festival was on (it wasn't.  It was on the week after.  I need to learn to check websites before making sweeping declarations and doing myself out of trying that lobster place I've been eying up for ages).
There are three places in Canterbury that my folks have always loved.  Deesons, The Goods Shed and The Granville.  I ummed and ahhed and went backwards and forwards and eventually decided on The Granville as we hadn't been there in a little while. 
Backstory time.

My grandparents lived in America for a long time and picked up quite a few traditions whilst they were over there, including one involving a pre-wedding meal (rehearsal dinner I think it is called) which they treated Steve and I to when we got married (you basically invite the wedding party plus immediate family for a dinner or lunch the day before the wedding).    These rehearsal dinners can involve 5 people or 100 people.  I think ours involved about 20 and was held at The Granville.  It was a lovely opportunity to be able to spend intimate time with friends and family as the next day didn't really afford that luxury due to it being such a whirlwind!

Thank you again Grandad America! (my pet name for him when I was little).

So anyway, back to The Granville. 
The Granville is the sister pub to the Michelin-starred Sportsman in Seasalter.  We had been to the Sportsman many years ago and I have to say, despite the hype and the reviews I wasn't impressed.   Maybe we got it on a bad day and should give it another chance but it wasn't a great meal.

The Granville apparently uses the same local producers as the Sportsman does as well as fresh produce that the chef grows on his allotment but has a completely different atmosphere and I have always found the quality of the food to be much higher.

It is pretty unpretentious from the outside.  It has a gravel carpark that makes that satisfying crunchy noise when you pull up and inside it is pretty rustic. There is a large bar, board games on the sideboard, a dart board and a large garden.  You can sink into squishy sofas whilst you are sipping a pre-dinner drink or just come in for a pint and a chat (choose from local Kentish cask ales and a broad wine menu although surprisingly no local Kentish wines).  The menu is chalked up by the chatty owner on a daily basis and is full of fresh local produce and ingredients depending on what was caught or dug up that day.
Make no mistake, this place is more pub than restaurant but average pub grub this ain't!  There are two menu's - a la carte or set and you do get table service so you don't need to wander up to the bar (although a lot of people hover at the blackboard, make their decisions and then order at the bar anyway; relaxed and informal is the name of the game here).   The menu changes on a daily basis depending on what is fresh and available so you can always be sure of something new.
We arrived, got our drinks, avoided eating the chalk straight out of the pot that was still on the bar (mum absently mindedly dipped her hand in thinking the pretty coloured sticks were bonbons) and then took our drinks outside.

This was one of the only downfalls about the Granville.  It is right next to the busy Nackington Road and the sound of the traffic made conversation outside really quite difficult plus the bugs were particularly active that night.  We cut our losses and made a quick dash back inside where we nabbed a large table by the window.

I happen to love oysters and the Granville always serves beautiful large fresh rock oysters complete with a red wine and shallot vinaigrette, one of my favourite ways to eat them.  Dad, Steve and I ordered 6 to share (mum loves them as well but has eaten so many she has made herself allergic.  Cue Homer Simpson 'D'oh!').  There was also fresh baked bread and pumpkin seeds on the table to snack on before the starters arrived.
Steve and I shared a large plate of anti-pasta to start (which came with more oysters, this time with tabasco).  The olives, oysters and smoked salmon were meaty and full of flavour and the beetroot and carrot salad was light and fresh and the parma ham was excellent.  It was let down by the potato salad which was a little heavy alongside everything else.  I'm not a big fan of potato salad anyway so I'm probably not in the best position to judge!
Mum and dad both ordered the homemade scotch eggs which came out with gooey runny yolks and a thick layer of sausage meet and crisp coating.  They both looked divine.
For our main course mum and I both had the skate wing with salsa verde and new potatoes with a side salad.  This was very light, the fish was beautifully cooked and the salsa verde was well rounded, although not as lemon sharp as I like mine.  I couldn't manage the potatoes as I was so full! 
Dad and Steve both ordered the pork belly, a great slab of pork meat and crispy crackling on a bed of vegetables and mash potato.  This again looked fabulous although I was told it wasn't as good as previous pork belly we have had here.
Do you like dad's attempt to get arty with his food composition?  He grabbed the candle and his wine glass and then demanded I take the picture.
Our waitress bought the dessert chalk board to our table and propped it up on a nearby chair.  It certainly looked like an impressive selection and I was sorely tempted by either the posset, chocolate cake or creme brulee but just could not face the idea of more food! 
I like the rustic charm of The Granville.  In the winter the large fire pit in the centre is lit and it becomes really cosy in the candlelight.  This may sound like a rather trivial detail but I also really appreciate the fact that the tables are large and spread out on the restaurant floor so you don't feel crowded or overlooked by other diners.  We were there on a Wednesday night and I know that it doesn't look like it from the pictures (I feel really funny about taking pictures of a space which has people I don't know dining in it, especially if they are trying to enjoy a night out), the place was pretty full.  This is actually why I don't have many pictures of the interior - I couldn't without pointing the camera at someone trying to eat their dinner!
The Granville has a large amount of artwork up for sale by a local artist (annoyingly I can't remember her name!).  These pictures are mosaics, made of thousands of tiny fragments of shell and glass.  No mortar is used to hold the pieces in place, each is individually painstakingly glued to the board and the whole lot shimmers in the candlelight.
Dad was so taken with it he had a flick through her book to see what else she had available.  Each piece retails for about £1000 so he didn't leave with any after the bill was settled up!
I'm currently in two minds about the Granville.  I love the pub atmosphere, the cosiness and the environment and the food is normally mind blowingly good but this week I was a bit underwhelmed by it all.  Nothing was bad, everything was cooked perfectly, flavours were all there, ingredients were fresh, service was fantastic and friendly, they did everything right and yet I still left feeling a little disappointed and a bit lackluster and I don't know why.  I've never left The Granville feeling like that before so I'm going to chalk it up to one slightly off experience, put it down to maybe me being a bit off rather than the restaurant (it was another really hot day and this does do funny things to your appetite) and give it another shot later this year and see how I get along.

It is still a wonderful pub/restaurant that has served me numerous excellent meals and it deserves the benefit of the doubt!

No comments:

Post a Comment