‘I’d rather just go upstairs and work.’ Well that’s too bad, Dan from the Southampton branch of Greggs. Because it’s Red Nose Day. And that means that you have no choice but to don a wig and costume and serve the public while both looking and feeling like a prize tit. It’s the worst case of enforced workplace jollity we’ve seen since ‘The Office’. And at least that had the excuse of being fictional.
It’s a scene that rather encapsulates the problem with this documentary series. ‘Greggs: More than Meats the Pie’ is desperate to have its Belgian bun and eat it. It’s keen to stress the reach and financial heft of the business. But it trades on bathos too: the idea that there’s something intrinsically amusing about the brand and its products.
Still, it’s jolly enough; tonight, the ladies of Gateshead Greggs make a naked calender while their engaging London sister-in-barms Claudette dismisses the idea of doing something similar (‘You’re trying to raise money, right?’). Whether it can sustain eight episodes remains to be seen, however…
Is London over the burger craze yet? Seemingly not, as there are still new burger bars opening all the time. With such a range of fresh meat-flippers to choose from, a newcomer really has to do something different to stand out. In the case of Stax, that something is adding a few lesser-seen dishes from the southern US. Chicken breast is buttermilk-marinated then fried in the Southern way; shrimp is deep-fried; even a whole onion is deep-fried. If you like your food fried, then you’ve come to the right place. There are some nice details in the dishes: the sweet brioche buns (bought in from the Balthazar bakery) are excellent quality, though we found ours fell apart too easily when wrapped around a moist burger. The triple-cooked chips were also paragons of their kind– skin-on, firm and fresh, tasting properly of tuber and well-seasoned. Our red cabbage slaw came with poppyseed stirred in to vary the texture and add interest. While it gets the basics of the dishes mostly right, Stax misses a few tricks otherwise. The name suggests Southern or Memphis Soul, but the soundtrack was the usual bland MOR you can find at the turn of an FM dial. Desserts consist mainly of ice-cream based dishes (made in-house), which makes a very rich meal after that fried main course; but then you’re not likely to be coming here anyway if you’re concerned about healthy eating. The service, although jolly and obliging, was haphazard on both of our visits; orders were mixed up, the bill took a long ti
Venue says: “We don't take table bookings but fear not, our sister restaurant Boondocks (Old Street) does! Same food, big menu and an even bigger space!”