The chicken burger
The Grand Union is huge but it avoids having a beer barn like feel thanks to the hodge podge of mismatched furniture, assortment of quirky paintings and giant chandeliers which all bring some warmth and character to the pub. On a Friday night the music is loud, very loud, so loud you can’t even talk – but that’s the point of this sort of pub really.
The deal is that you order from the bar and each table is identified with a numbered wooden spoon. The menu itself is divided into burgers, “breadless” which are burgers without the bread (which in my view makes them no longer a burger), and sides including salads. That may not sound like much to choose from but the array of burgers on offer is staggering from the classic beef burger £5.95 to the rather more obscure (and Christmas themed) turkey scallop burger filled with a crumbed turkey breast, stuffing and cranberry sauce (£6.95).
I go for the Greek lamb burger (£7.95) while my friend Claire tries out the chicken, avocado and bacon burger (£7.95). The burgers are huge, almost as big as my head. I thought of Miss Piggy and her sound advice to “never eat more than you can lift” and so I ordered the chips, onion rings and a salad for good measure as well. The Greek lamb burger is made from a meaty ball of lamb mince and smothered in a creamy cucumber raita sauce, hommus and a little kick of chilli sauce. The meat itself was perfectly pink and juicy but there was too much of the raita sauce making the burger a little on the soggy side and highly increasing the chances of wearing part of the meal down your front.
I know that some people would say that a chicken burger is not actually a burger at all but I thought the Grand Union’s chicken, avocado and bacon burger was pretty good. It was made using a grilled chicken breast and streaky bacon to add some bite. This was an accomplished version of a much maligned burger, generous in proportion and flavour.
The mixed salad (£4.95) is also over sized and is really a main in itself rather than a side dish. The chips (£2.50) are noted as being “London’s best” in Time Out, but I found them slightly undercooked and certainly not a patch on the triple cooked beauties at The Bull and Last. A better option is the onion rings (£2.75) which are ringed with a thick layer of crispy batter and served with a garlic mayo. Onions and garlic – eat these and you can be sure that you are not picking up.
There is no dessert menu as this is really food designed to soak up booze rather than to linger over several courses. This is food that is perfect for its purposes. It is not food to cross town for but it is booze friendly and the sort of thing that you can eat quickly and get back to shouting over the music at your friends. There are quite a few other pubs serving mediocre and over adventurous menus that could take note of the simplicity of The Grand Union’s approach.
Details: 243 Goldhawk Road, Ravenscourt Park, W12 8EU (Ph 020 8741 2312) Tube: Goldhawk road
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
If you liked reading this you might enjoy reading about the best pub meal I’ve had in a while, at The Panatechnicon
in Knightsbridge. If you are comparing burgers in pubs I think the Grand Union’s beat The Normanby’s
in Putney hands down.