The oldest, no!?
The Guinea Grill is a jolly old pub in the back alley of London’s most affluent quarter. Back in the 15th century when the earliest record of the pub existed, The Guinea Grill was a hangout for servants and horsemen to lords and ladies. Today the scene, though still friendly and unpretentious, is dominated by the well-off, old-and-young swaggerers of Mayfair. The pub area at the front mirrors our modern day bustle, while the cozy dining room in the back captures the charming, old-world Great British pride. (In another note the dining room wasn’t big and got quite noisy).
Great British p(r)i(d)e
The cooking at Guinea Grill led by head chef Mark Newbury epitomises British classics, with a focus on seasonality and comfort. Steamed Asparagus with Poached Egg (£12.80) tasted according to what it was. The accompanying Hollandaise sauce could do with a touch less of vinegar. Crayfish Crab Cocktail (£11.75), noted for its reasonable freshness, also tasted according to what it was. The pies at Guinea Grill have won fame. My Steak and Mushroom Pie (£14.85) was great value for money and, arguably, the must-order dish if you were to dine at Guinea Grill. The steak used in the pie filling was of high quality and cooked to delightful moreish-ness; the sauce had a pungent beer aroma and an unmistakable peppery note. That said, I was not madly in love with its heavy suet crust as it was too hard to drill and chew. (If you love crusty suet dumplings, you’ll probably love this, though). The steak – 280g Scottish fillet and dry aged for 14 days – at £33.70 was a wonderful surprise. Cooked precisely to my medium rare order, it also boast a smokey charcoal aroma as well as a textural contrast between the rougher exterior and the tender interior. (I am not the biggest steak eater but I think this one at Guinea Grill is better than, say, at Hawksmoor or CUT, but is still second to Goodman’s). This was pretty much the kind of steak that tasted so good I would eat without any sauce. Having said that, the peppercorn sauce (£3.50) was not remarkable. The sides of chips (£4) and chestnut mushrooms (£NotSure) were passable but I could do without. The chips had a good crispy skin but was too mushed inside.
The puddings were traditionally pleasing. Summer Pudding, served with clotted cream, could have brought joy to my taste bud, if the bread versus berry content were re-adjusted. On its own I found the berry filling refreshing, but as imprisoned by a very thick fortress of bread, the zingy berry taste became void. Raspberry Sorbet (£4.60) was exuberant. I also enjoyed the tang from the raspberry coulis. My only criticism would be that the portion for the sorbet was large and half way into finishing it my tongue turned numb. In short, it was a pretty good meal (but not indisputably brilliant).
THE GUINEA GRILL
30 Bruton Place
Tel. 020 7409 1728