COACH AND HORSES
I know - she's ill
I'm cruising for a spill
When the Coach and Horses first opened – almost exactly five years ago – Dos Hermanos arranged to meet a mutual chum there. Not only was the pub shut but the mutual chum had decided that a night out at a party hosted by Matt Lucas was a far more attractive prospect than hanging out in a gastropub with two ever-so-slightly obsessed brothers. There really is no accounting for some people’s taste, but I think I know who got the better deal as we ended up doing an Wenlock/Angel Mangal (sob) double header. Since then every time I’ve walked past I think “I really must try and visit the Coach and Horses one day”. And I’ve been doing that for the past five years.
Two weeks into my new job and I felt I needed a little pick-me-up: some decent pub grub and a glass or two of wine to help me get over the previous week (the audiences at theTinsley Playhouse are notoriously brutal especially if the play involves orange pekoe tea). As it was a Friday the C&H was predictably chocka with braying journos from The Guardian whose offices are nearby but there’s a nice little separate dining area and a garden.
First disappointment on seeing the menu was that the meat options were very limited.
Odd as one would imagine the taste of blood would be manna to a journalist. After some excellent homemade (although you get charged for it) I started with some Lamb’s tongues. I’d had an excellent example at Hereford road but the version here suffered by comparison. It didn’t have a particularly good taste which could have been improved by a bit more colour on the outside, say by griddling it. The White Bean Puree underneath had been blitzed into a rather gluey mass and needed something to loosen the texture. So far so dull.
Skate wing looked better but unfortunately had been overcooked and was too soft. Skate has a very distinctive taste but here it was muted. The caper butter lacked zing. The chips tasted prefab and were a bit mealy in texture. The aioli lacked richness and the necessary garlic kick – the name does mean garlic and oil after all – so was a bit superfluous. And that was that despite the promise of Peanut Butter Ice cream on the menu. These days if I’m having a good time then I’ll stay and spend more if I’m not I won’t – simple as.
The C&H had a good reputation when it first opened but five years is a long time in the restaurant business and now it has the feel of somewhere that’s just going through the motions. The menu, the typeface all seem to tick the right boxes but it just doesn’t have the combination of good ingredients combined with accurate cooking to follow through. In other words it feels ersatz. Which isn’t a very good thing for a gastropub to be.