Wallace & Co
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Thu Feb 4 2010
This new caff has already generated a lot of interest on the back of its association with Gregg Wallace, the greengrocer turned television personality who co-presents ‘Masterchef’. Wallace is a co-owner, you see.
But before you rush down there to jiggle his cabbages, be warned that sightings of Wallace at the caff bearing his name are rare. Gregg’s a busy and popular man, if his Twitter channel is to be believed – flirting by Twitter is even how he met his partner, Heidi.
So, without the likelihood of a face-to-face chinwag with Mr Wallace himself, what do we have?
A large, all-day café that’s been prettied up in a pleasing mix of rationing-era nostalgia and beach house looks, with a bit of Sydney café menu thrown in.
At the front is a marvellous piece of window dressing in the form of a table groaning with pretty pumpkins, pies, fruit and loaves of bread.
To one side are more picturesque boxes of veg (Gregg Wallace still has a hand in the greengrocer business), a rack of preserves, and a glass display cabinet housing the salads, which you can take away.
High stools are at the other side, then there’s a proper sit-down café area, and at the back, a conservatory-like, glassed-over mezzanine dining area. ‘Currants’, reads a storage jar. When did you last cook with currants?
There are no ‘Masterchef’ touches on this menu – it’s simple caff food.
Breakfasts, served until noon, cover the usual fry-ups and pastries, The dinner menu – served after 6pm – is even more terse, covering dishes such as chicken, chips and coleslaw, rib-eye steak and chips, or monkfish skewer with salsa verde and salad potatoes.
Sunday roasts are, well, Sunday roasts. It’s the noon-till-closing time menu which shows most promise.
The salads are among the more interesting options, and include a lip-smacking mackerel escabeche, a well-made celeriac remoulade served on a sliver of bresaola, and a less impressive vegetable mulch that was described on the menu as saffron cauliflower.
Ribollita is a Tuscan soup of ‘leftover’ veg and stale bread, typical of the hearty peasant flavours of central Italy.
It can be quite vibrantly coloured or the colour of lentil soup, but I’d not seen one as dark or viscous as Wallace & Co’s version before – it looked like Chinese hot and sour soup. Yet the essential constituents were there – beans, minestrone-like veg – and it tasted Italian.
A slice of jerusalem artichoke frittata was less successful, as this slab was served unappetisingly cold, when ideally it should be served just-cooked.
The Mediterranean slant to the menu is balanced by British classics. The scotch egg revival has become an epidemic across London, and includes venison versions with runny egg yolk (at the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms). The quartered scotch egg served here might not be star material, but it’s a decent one, with good quality pork encasing the egg.
Puddings are the sort nanny might approve of, such as apple crumble with custard. Our treacle tart with clotted cream was a good version, though the portion size was small; in fact, all the portion sizes were on the small side. Order accordingly.
Wallace & Co is a handy local café-brasserie, and is already hugely popular with young parents looking to distract kids. (You have been warned.)
But being a family sort of place, there’s not a lot of cabbage-jiggling going on.
Wallace & Co 146 Upper Richmond Road