Remember Clerkenwell before Caravan and Modern Pantry? When it was too close to the rough and tumble of Kings Cross to be proper chic? I do. Now with Crossrail tunnelled through, Kings Cross almost cleaned up and revolutionary levels of redevelopment, so much of the edgy cool character of Clerkenwell is going, going gone. Replaced with something much more tarted up, more international and some might say, homogenised. This, dear reader, is why I had two minds of the opening of Bill Granger’s Granger And Co in Clerkenwell Green.
On the one hand, a revered (Bill’s breakfast eggs were almost as popular as his TV show when I was a Sydneysider) Australian cook was opening in my ‘hood, promising food cooked in a style dear to my heart. On the other, what better typifies character reducing gentrification than the opening of a high-end yet cool, internationally franchised bistro?
Urban environment soapbox aside, I’ve been to Granger and Co a few times now. Enough to have developed a sense of the place. I thought it time to write it up.
This place is decked-out in a cool yet opulent way
Nestled in one of the most atmospheric parts of the Clerkenwell village, Granger and Co has taken over the second floor of a recently redeveloped office building. Stand out front on a warm spring day, under the dense canopy of the trees that envelop St James’ church and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re not in London but a quaint market village. Step inside Granger and Co and you’re immediately reminded that you in a very modern London. This place is decked-out in a cool yet opulent way. Light coloured walls, neutral flooring, modern scandi-meets-east-asia looking furniture and smatterings of brass on light fittings and other fixtures. It’s comfortable, yet classy.
I had breakfast solo on a morning during the soft launch. Their was a food shoot going down and Mr. Granger himself was there and thoughtfully bought me a newspaper. We had a quick chat, it cured me of any “sitting on my own” anxiety. He informed me he liked to be around for new openings to make sure all was on track. Luckily his team (I counted six) were also there to assist. We reminisced of North Sydney beaches. I giggled like a school boy.
The menu was perused, and the nostalgia-cum-familiarity I’d felt on arriving was reinforced. This read like a Sydney surf-side cafe menu. So much to choose from, smoothies, eggs many ways, the now ubiquitous avo’ on toast, grains and fruits. The large plates in particular illustrate Granger’s Asian influenced style: miso mushrooms, crab meat brown rice, get the drift? There’s good news here for veggies: I reckoned atleast half the dishes were veg only, perhaps another quarter would suit if you remove one ingredient. I think that’s pretty good odds for breakfast.
I couldn’t resist my favourite, sweetcorn fritters, roast tomato, spinach & bacon err, hold the bacon. Except in my earlier mentioned state of of celebrity and photoshoot giddiness, I forgot to hold the bacon.
This was the soft launch, so I was prepared for the food to be not yet perfected. The fritters were good. But, simple. The sort of clean cooking you could do at home if remotely skilled and so inclined, probably for a lot less than £13.50.
Onwards, brunch continued, with a visit to the cake counter. I made two fly buys and again encountered Bill for a low down on the selection, all freshly baked on premises this morning. I settled on one, and another coffee…
The doughnut was definitely pretty, quite fluffy and sweet. Not bad, I’d say, but in a context of rapidly rising baking standards in London, not stellar. The coffee on the other hand is what you’d expect from a place with Aussie roots. Well crafted, tasty, moorish.
I returned to Granger and Co, this time for lunch
That was breakfast done. But as the weather warmed, hands man and I returned to Granger and Co, this time for lunch. The menu had a sense of the familiar: some features from the brunch menu stay on till lunch. Fruit cocktails, some of the large plates. But joining these items are pasta, pizza, a selection of bowls and small plates. They all read to be fresh and vibrant. Not as many veg options as at brunch, but you weren’t left with no choice. I liked the sound of Spaghetti with Artichoke, Mint, Lemon and Parmesan. But this time, determined to tuck into something fused with an Asian influence, I feasted my eyes on the large plates.
The Courgette Fritters were wonderful. Crispy yet silky, packed with flavour and not at all greasy. Served with a cheeky fried egg, haloumi and lashings of salad. This was a brilliantly designed and well sized main. I really enjoyed it.
Hands man opted for the other major veg dish. A well balanced quinoa salad with chunks of feta and a tempting blast of beetroot.
We did, take another look at the baked goods. It was, looking rather resplendent.
Perhaps ‘s predictably, and despite my urban homogenisation rant, I’m giving Granger and Co a fair dinkum thumbs up. With the caveat that some of the dishes I tried were to my mind, quite basic for the prices. Overall the atmosphere, innovative larger dishes and the prominence of meat free options, make this a sure fire bet for a flavour of Aussie beach side dining, sans heatwave, over here in the big smoke.
Brunch and Lunch at Granger & Co, #Clerkenwell
50 Sekforde Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HA
Phone: 020 7251 9032
Reviewer: Jared, June 24, 2014 (Several visits during Spring 2014)