Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Garrison: Solid gastro cooking

Bermondsey Street may be slowly being taken over by a certain Spanish conquistador, but it still has a distinctly London vibe with suited bankers nestled in among the bespeckled creatives. There is still an element of the old-school with some rather red-cheeked Old Boys looking rather confused the latest trendy new restaurant to pop-up where their favourite watering-hole used to be. Which leads me nicely to...

The Garrison Public House, just down from 'The Bridge', is a local gastropub in the heart of the Suits and Specs. While outside it retains the old fashioned green-tiled pub exterior, inside you'll find all the trappings of a trendy gastropub: lots of wood, antique furniture, low hung mood-lighting and distractingly attractive waitresses. To give some credit, apart from the mounted game on the wall, the furnishings were a little more tastefully done than in some other places, and I certainly wouldn't call it annoying.

Beef tartar with rocket. Pork rillettes with pickled samphire

The tartar was delicious, the beef wasnt chopped too finely and was so tender, chewing was optional. The seasoning was good (if a tiny bit under done) and the sharpness from the capers followed through nicely. I would have liked a little more tabasco and the raw egg yolk was missing.
Beef tartar. Hey dude, where's my egg?

The pork rillettes was a good consistency and released a good strong porky flavour and there was just enough fat worked through to hold it together well and provide an extra meaty kick. The combination of pickled samphire was refreshing in its acidity although it may have been heavy handed with the vinegar when pickling. Solid dishes all round and reasonably priced.
Pork rillettes and samphire

Roast pheasant with chestnuts and pancetta greens. Pan-friend fillet of sea bream with crushed new potatoes and capers. Side order of fries.

The pheasant started fantastically as I tucked into the tender and juicy leg meat. I love game birds and this was pretty good quality. Gamey and rich, the bird was served with a rich jus, not overly reduced (not really visible from the picture but that's what happens when you take pictures by candlelight). I couldn't see the chestnuts pieces as they had been chopped fairly finely but were a delicious surprise when I ended forking one into my face along with some tender dark meat. The only downside to an otherwise well-executed classic autumn dish, was that the breast, which perhaps foolishly I left until last, was a little dry. 
Roast pheasant. Starry-eyed lighting was an added supplement.

I didn't get to taste much of the sea bream, however my dining companion declared it to be very tasty and from the little bits I tried it was well cooked with an all important crisp skin.
Sean Bream. When you see him...
Gingerbread with ice cream and butterscotch sauce.

The gingerbread was warm and cakey and well, frankly delicious. Uncomplicated food but it hit all the right spots on a cold October evening. The light warming spice from the ginger, the cold ice cream and the toffee butterscotch. Heaven. I'm always a sucker for juxtaposition of temperature and along with these flavour combinations, it was enough to make me make funny noises while eating.
Warm gingerbread cake, butterscotch sauce.
Companion had a coffee.

The service was excellent although waned near the end. We were early for our reservation and due to specific seating requirements, they managed to get us a table right near the door with with no fuss. The waitresses were friendly and knowledgeable, the only gripe would be that they disappeared near the end of the evening as they began to clean up for the night (a little early as it was still 60% full).

Summary: Solid weekday evening meal if you can't elbow yourself space at José next door. If you do end up settling for The Garrison, you certainly won't be diappointed.

Food for two with no drinks: £62.

Food: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Slosh: N/A
Value: 8/10

Square Meal
Garrison on Urbanspoon

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