35 Churton Street, London, SW1V 2LT, United Kingdom

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Grumbles in Pimlico was opened in 1964 by Jeremy Friend. In 1994 its ownership passed to Charles Tidman who in turn passed it to Alex Turnbull. Sixty years of continuous operation in the restaurant world is, well, nothing to grumble about. It serves traditional British dishes like fish pie and avocado prawn with Marie Rose sauce. There was a three-course set menu at £22.50 for three courses, available at lunch and early evening, as well as a full a la carte selection. The ground floor dining room, seating 26 by my count, has wooden panels and assorted photos hanging on the wall, including a picture of the very first waitress here, named Sylvia. There is also a downstairs dining room, slightly larger than the ground floor one. I was recommended this restaurant by a friend who had eaten here back in the late 1960s, and at that time the restaurant attracted celebrities including Julie Christie, Rod Steiger and Christine Keeler. 

The wine list had 37 labels and ranged in price from £23 to £94, with a median price of £35 and an average markup to retail price of 2.4 times, which is extremely reasonable by London standards. 78% of the list was below £50, which is not something that you can say very often these days. 59% of the list was French, with offerings also from places such as Chile (8% of the list) and New Zealand (3% of the list). Sample references were Echevarria Sauvignon Blanc Molina 2023 at £26.75 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £12, Domaine Fourrey Chablis 2022 at £45.95 compared to its retail price of £22, and Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2011 at £89.5 for a wine that will set you back £35 in the high street. Corkage is by prior arrangement only. 

Avocado prawns (£9.75) came with Marie Rose sauce, a blend of mayonnaise and tomatoes laced with Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and lemon juice. The avocado was ripe and the prawns were of reasonable quality. For me the sauce could have been a little punchier in terms of seasoning, and there was little effort at presentation, but this was decent enough (11/20). Pan-fried tiger prawns (£11.75) were resting in a tomato and olive oil sauce flavoured with garlic, chilli and parsley. The prawns were cooked a touch longer than is fashionable these days, but were certainly not rubbery, and I really liked the sauce, which had a decent kick of chilli and plenty of garlic flavour (12/20).

A beef burger (£16.25) came in a fairly basic bun along with chips and (optionally) with cheese and/or bacon. The beef was cooked to a well-done state but had decent flavour, and the chips were reasonably crisp, though the bun could definitely have been upgraded (barely 11/20). Cod and chips (£17.95) had a somewhat small chunk of fish fried in beer batter, along with peas flavoured with mint and tartare sauce. The cod was cooked all right, the batter was fairly crisp, though the peas tasted as though they may have been frozen (11/20). 

Apple and blackberry crumble (£7.50) was quite good, with plenty of fruit including some unannounced strawberries. The crumble had reasonable texture and the fruit had just enough sugar to balance its sharpness (12/20). You could also have just plain vanilla ice cream, though this seemed to have only a passing relationship with real vanilla pods. Coffee was Musetti, just about the cheapest coffee that can be found in the restaurant world in London, so I skipped that, which was priced at a curiously hefty £4.25 for a double espresso.

The bill came to £56 per person. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might be more like £65 or so. The waitresses that we encountered were friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere was relaxed, with dishes arriving at a steady clip. Grumbles is very much a neighbourhood restaurant serving simple food in a welcoming environment. It is not trying to set the culinary world alight, and understands the kind of traditional food that its customers want to eat. The restaurant was completely packed on the evening we went, and I wouldn’t bet against it still being here after another sixty years.

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