The Rosendale is the only food-focused pub to serve West Dulwich; perhaps it’s the lack of competition that has caused standards to slip despite this handsome establishment’s refurbishment by the well-regarded Renaissance group.
The sheer expanse of the dining area, while an appealing place to sit (bright by day, cosy yet elegant in the evening), is clearly challenging to fill with diners. On our last visit, we noted punters migrating from the bar area to share a bottle of wine and maybe a bar snack. Arriving at a quiet time, we nonetheless faced a considerable wait for our food.
When the meal arrived, even the promising ‘specials’ had the air of weary, part pre-cooked standbys: stodgy risotto; ‘pan-fried’ duck with grey flesh and soggy, resilient skin; old-school cabbage. The ‘summer fruit’ tart owed its crisp, buttery pastry to last-minute assembly that threw up unhalved grapes and unripe mango.
Wondering at the pub’s popularity, we noted relaxed family groups populating the extensive, decked back garden with its dedicated toddlers’ play area. Add fairly priced wines and decent cask beers to the mix and the Rosendale continues to fulfil a welcome, if not gastronomically exalted, function.