Granger & Co
175 Westbourne Grove
© Rob Greig
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Thu Dec 1 2011
Bill Granger is big Down Under. He’s an Australian cook, and cookery writer, of great renown – you may have seen his sunny blond hair and beaming smile on a cookery book cover, or on a TV cookery show.
He set up Bills (sic) restaurant in Sydney in 1993, which quickly became a classic brunch destination – part of the then new-style Aussie cafés that were casual, but served good food.
Granger moved to London a couple of years ago, during which time he’s appeared on British TV and written yet another book. Recently he has opened Granger & Co, which bears similarities to the Bills restaurants that can now be found from Sydney to Tokyo.
It’s airy, light-filled, has a brunchy/comfort-food menu, and takes no bookings, but looks much more upmarket than the original Bills.
No-booking restaurants are a current London fad – allowing restaurateurs to pack in more people, but diners may have to wait, or not get in at all. They work best when turnover is rapid, the premises large, and there’s somewhere to wait – for example, in any Wagamama or Busaba Eathai.
But translate this to a small, isolated restaurant at the wrong end of Westbourne Grove, one that’s serving three courses in a very leisurely manner, and the no-booking system can cause aggravation.
We were told on arrival that all tables and bar seats were already full, and it would be ‘a 45-minute wait’ for a table. Our greeter then turned heel, expecting us to leave. We didn’t, and after a few minutes found free seats at the bar. Service didn’t improve much until Granger himself came by on a charm-sweep through the dining room.
If you’re visiting off-peak, you might get a better chance to try dishes such as semolina-crusted calamari (ours was good if slightly underdone), chilli pork ribs (fatty but tasty), or spatchcocked chicken smothered in pink grapefruit slivers, fresh herbs and shaved fennel. It’s the sort of comfort food any keen home cook can make, especially if armed with one of Granger’s excellent books.
Australian influences aren’t strident, though the pavlova, a meringue topped with berries and ‘yoghurt cream’, was a good version.
We returned several times for brunch, and found the service equally mixed; during the first week of opening, staff were relaxed and demonstrated the Aussie bonhomie you might expect from a place under Granger’s watch. A few weeks later, however, the service had reverted to the same brand of chaos that we experienced during our evening meal.
Breakfast, served until 5pm, offers a list of bakery items (toasted coconut bread, avocado with lime and coriander on rye bread, bran muffins) as well as the much-lauded ‘Bill’s Classics’, of which we tried two familiar dishes.
Sweetcorn fritters, golden and crisp and served with bacon, spinach and roasted tomato, is a solid option, but more work is needed to perfect the famous ricotta hotcakes. They’re known for their fluffiness, but ours were soggy; we also wished there was more of the accompanying honeycomb butter. It didn't seem to be a fluke, as the pancakes were still soggy on our second brunch visit several weeks later.
No complaints about the perfectly executed flat whites (made with beans from Allpress Espresso) and a virtuous ‘sunrise drink’ smoothie packed with juicy fruit.
Once the kitchen kinks are ironed out and the service is as sunny in the evening as it is in the day, we might have reason to be as smiley about this all-day, no-bookings brasserie as Mr Granger is himself.
Granger & Co 175 Westbourne Grove
020 7229 9111
- Opening hours:
Open 7am-10.30pm Mon-Sat; 8am-9.30pm Sun
Tube: Notting Hill Gate tube
Meal for two with drinks and service: around £80
Granger & Co
- 175 Westbourne Grove
- 020 7229 9111
- 175 Westbourne Grove
- Granger & Co
Food and drink
Eating and drinking facilities. Restaurant and bar facilities. Breakfast. Brunch
Meal times. Best for brunch. Best for breakfast. Eating out. Celebrated chefs