Already a Notting Hill institution, acclaimed restaurateur Bill Granger’s eponymous Granger & Co. has only occupied its large airy spot for a matter of months. The Victorian architecture, tall glass windows, muted palette and high ceilings are juxtaposed with subtly industrial lighting and a supporting iron girder in the middle of the dining room.
We were surrounded by several first dates, a couple of international jet-setters, a myriad of expensively highlighted blondes, a gaggle of couples catching up with couples, and Henry Conway replete with concertina fan and ethnic-beaded date.
We were seated on a corner booth next to a tri-generational family, complete with parents, grandmother, newborn and four-year-old. The four-year-old proceeded to scramble along the back of the booth and eat Granger’s delicious olives all over my hair. Despite the odd dribble, her mischievous delight had a charm and the picture was fairly representative of this laid-back institution. Granger & Co. strikes the elusive balance between chic, buzzy, and casual. In the evening children are a rare sight, but I love the way the restaurant is at once a stylish, thriving fashion hub, and simultaneously a family-friendly joint where adults relax and children scramble over furniture. This mix of fashion and family is reminiscent of Cecconi’s West Hollywood, or Gloucestershire’s Babington House. But, perhaps, less intimidating.
To start we shared some really very good olives (£3.50), and spice sugar roasted cashews (£2.25). I then had the rather disappointing semolina crusted calamari with harissa mayo (£7.50), a forlorn, tepid dish with an incongruous fire to its dip. The Actor had the exquisite wild bass crudo with grapefruit, avocado and sesame (£7.80). This raw sea bass salad blend of the sweet citrus, cream of the avocado and dashes of red onion culminated in an orgasmic cacophony of flavour and freshness.
You know those times when anything to come can only be an anti-climax. After the Actor’s wild bass crudo that was the consensus.
But we needn’t have worried. After much deliberation, I opted for a crispy duck with plums, star anise and citrus salad (£15.90). The Actor plumped for the catch of the day, a large moist and tender plaice (market price). From the first mouthful on we remained mute for the duration. My duck was crispy, fatless, yet moist inside, paired perfectly with the sweet hit of plum. The Actor’s plaice was so buttery and vital it was hard to believe it had left the ocean at all.
For a woman who thought she wasn’t hungry I polished off three (was it four?) courses with very little effort. Portions were generous, but with flavour this good, it’s hard to notice your gradually swelling, expanding abdomen.
I don’t think of myself as a desert person, so to round things off we shared a portion of banana fritters with coconut ice cream and caramel sauce (£5.50). This wasn’t just ice cream, this was Granger & Co. ice cream. I had no idea how much flavour could be packed into a single ball of frozen dairy. The sugared ginger on top, heat and crunch of the fritters and smooth buttery sweet of the caramel was exquisite against the powerful cold hit of coconut.
After extensive deliberation with the sommelier, we’d gone for a bottle of the Delta Wines sauvignon blanc (£34.50). We wanted oaky, smoky, light and neither sickly nor citric. This ruled out the desert sauv blanc and the sharper Cloudy Bay sauv blanc.
The Delta did not disappoint. After a solid three months wine-tasting in Tuscany and countless tastings at Jeraboams, Chelsea, I can say this is one of the nicest wines I’ve stumbled upon. Each cursory gulp was like swallowing plump and fragrant air.
Overall Granger & Co. presents a well-edited, if slightly confused menu – I’d be hard pressed to describe it as any single cuisine. Bill’s Australian accent was audible with half the mains categorised as BBQ, but they also offer a distinctly British roast chicken, Asian fragrant fish curries, German schnitzels, and French mainstays such as steak, oysters and lobster.
Granger & Co., 175 Westbourne Grove, London, W11; grangerandco.com