Five Star Fooding | London’s Bunch Of Grapes Invites You to Eat, Drink & Be Merry
Despite Brexit, there’s no dampening of spirits (pun intended) when it comes to pub culture in London. Fancy really getting a taste of British cuisine, ignore the tourist traps that populate the familiar haunts of Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. Instead eat, drink and be merry like the locals.
Pubs have been a sort of crossroads where all types converge to unwind, do business, grab lunch, eat an English breakfast, or to get completely twisted on one too many pints. Despite the rising cost of living or the plummeting value of the pound, pubs remain relatively inexpensive, and they have been for ages, some having existed for a number of centuries. Many are the pride and joy of the locals, who cultivate their own brown brew and whip up their own beans and eggs.
One such pub that offers its share of full-bodied lagers and mashed peas is Bunch Of Grapes. Only a few minutes walk from Victoria and Albert Museum in the Knightsbridge District, Bunch of Grapes gets its rare collection of the posh and the modest sorts who all rub elbows, double-fisting ciders and black (cider mixed with black currant) or a more robust ale that goes down heavy.
Here one drinks up, the local lads clutching their pints of brown brew while going on about their day, joking about the latest football match or chatting up the leggy blond. All of it swills together on the palette in a décor of amber light, mahogany furniture with brass railings and a sound garden of animated conversations. But it mostly comes together at meal time.
Two very traditional menu items are absolute winners. First up, Bunch of Grapes’ version of fish and chips lives up to the name. A chunky, crunchy slab of fried cod comes out on a plate with a legion of tasty dance partners: a small tub of in-house rendered tartar sauce, another tub of mayo, greens for garnish, and mushy green peas for color. Then there is the costar, the thick wedge-cut chips stacked to the hilt in a miniature metallic fry bin.
On paper it sounds delicious. In reality it’s fooding heaven. The cod comes away delicately in the mouth, first in crisp crunchy chews punctuated by hints of paprika and citrus spice. Then it bursts in explosions of fluffy white morsels that remain juicy and tender with each swallow.
The fries are made fresh, cut from the locally farmed potatoes. So they don’t have that strange fast food time limit where after five minutes untouched they turn into near death experiences with no actual flavor. These are good from beginning to end of the meal.
But if you were really hankering for something more robust, Bunch of Grapes conjures up a burger that is a virtual chunk of beef slathered in a spicy sauce, topped with provolone, married with thick slabs of real, locally raised bacon and wedged between two sourdough buns. The result is all kinds of magical. You weren’t quite hungry enough for a steak, but it’s little brother served with a tub of fries will suffice.
Bunch of Grapes is a strong choice for your casual introduction to British pub culture. And even if the pound plummets, you don’t have to worry about spending a pretty penny for a top meal.
5 out of 5 stars for Price, 3.5 out of 5 stars for Taste.