High Noon in Nappy Valley

We went for breakfast this morning to a new place that's opened in Battersea, just near Battersea Park called "The Butcher & Grill".

I'd been fancying going there for a while, and just missed out last weekend due to a cracking hangover that meant I didn't leave the house until long after it's kitchens had closed.

It was less than ok – Foe had an Eggs Benedict that looked respectable at first pass, but the egg yolks were hard. Not ideal for most, but actually she preferred it that way. I would have been inconsolable.

Since I was a kid I've been unable to pass up 'Steak and Eggs' on a breakfast menu. My dad told me it was what astronauts ate on the morning of their flight, and that's stuck with me ever since. I reach for the stars through cholesterol.

I asked for the steak to be medium. It came back medium to well-done, if not well-done, with not a spot of pink to be seem. The egg yolks were powdery dry , but the white were liquid. I ate it all however – and didn't complain (I'm not a good complainer).

The thing I wanted to complain most about was the orange juice. Priced at 2.50 GBP I expected it to be fresh and pithy – instead it was obviously made from concentrate – thin and syrupy. Awful.

The waiting staff were plentyful, pretty and oblivious to the customers in quite a studied way for somewhere that hasn't been open that long.

Critical opinion seems to be with me on this one. This from Jay Rayner in The Observer:

"I will confess that I expected this week's restaurant to be a disappointment. I've long dreamed of a meat-lover's place built around a butcher's shop from which die-hard carnivores could choose their dinner, but I knew the idea was so simple, so straightforward, that most restaurateurs would be unable to resist the temptation to bugger it up. I just wish the newly opened Butcher & Grill, in London's Battersea, hadn't insisted upon proving me right."

The Telegraph:

"Perhaps what depresses me most about Butcher & Grill is that the kitchen is very good indeed, but hampered perhaps by sharp practice and the tremendous determination to drive profits up at every opportunity."

My gloom at the orange juice and 12.5% mandatory service charge (why do places do that?) was lifted by a comic episode as we left.

We arrived around 11.30am and there were maybe one or two other couples in the entire restaurant. We had been sat down for about 10 minutes before the first wagon train arrived: a bugaboo laden with accessorised 'parenting' bags, and a phalanx or scooters, trikes etc.

From the review in The Telegraph again:

"Inside: a lot of dark wood and brickwork, and a recurring motif of jolly blue and white butcher stripes, which pop up on the staff aprons, the menus and the napkins.

Outside: about half a dozen of those cheap, screechy aluminium café tables, plus a phalanx of mothers with heavily-loaded Bugaboos glowering at the childless couples occupying those tables."

The manager and host started rearranging some of the empy tables and chairs to make an impromptu parking garage for this SUV of baby carriages.

10 minutes later, another wagon-train… And another. Each with giant fully-loaded, full-suspension 4WD baby 'travel-system' (naturally, Bugaboo) accompanied by toddler wing-men on trikes.

As we passed out of the premises we overhead the manager having a breakdown: "I can't fit any more of these bloody things in"

Where we live in South London is nicknamed 'Nappy Valley' – it had the highest birth rate in Europe in 2004 (I guess it's the same phenomena in Noe Valley in SF). You would think that restauranteurs would know what they were letting themselves in for and allow some parking space for the Bugaboo baby-Hummers.

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