Jolly Hockey Sticks
After leaving uni, my daughter and one of her very best friends shared a flat on Prince of Wales Drive in Battersea. Despite being a challenging six floors walk up right opposite the park, it was a gorgeous sugar and spice palace, full of flowers, home grown herbs, silken ribbons, frilly knickers on radiators and impossibly high heels scattered around. Since the two petite pretty girls called each other ‘Dude’, it was soon known as Dude Mansions. Their favourite haunt was a gastro pub just around the corner, The Lighthouse, which, from time to time, was also frequented by the Royal princes.
Now I’ve never had ambitions for my child to marry into the Royal Family. My daughter is a spirited, intelligent girl, very much with both feet on the ground and, although I have nothing but respect for the Royals, I would have hated for her life and her ambitions to be curtailed by all the confines of being a member of ‘The Firm’. A little bit of eyelash fluttering and flirtation across the crowded bar, fair enough, but ultimately, her destiny was to be a happier, more fulfilled one. Dude Mansions has long since been abandoned in favour of mortgages and, these days, both those little minxes have become admirable young career women and wives, juggling babies and board meetings like pros. They live at opposite ends of the metropolis but are still best friends, frequently meeting up for playdates, gossip and old fashioned afternoon tea.
The Lighthouse is still there where it has always been, on Battersea Park Road, so after our annual visit to the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park, the Lovely Husband and I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and grab a bite there. It’s a well presented, civilized pub with wooden floors and tables, a conservatory and beer garden lit by fairy lights at the back, and a short but an enticing looking menu. Admittedly, the average age of the clientele there is about 27 and everyone is fresh faced, bushytailed and your typical nice boy or girl from next door. On the evening we were there, a whole team of hunky hockey players, still muddy from the pitch, descended on the bar. It’s that kind of place.
The food here is a modern and, in principle, well thought out cross between sophisticated pub grub and nursery food. It caters to the more discerning palate but retains the element of comfort food. We ordered a shared starter of Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid, Black Ink Aioli & Sriracha Sauce. Sriracha Sauce, in case you don’t know, and I certainly didn’t, is a Thai hot chilli condiment which takes its name from Si Racha, a city in Eastern Thailand. It was a good looking dish and very tasty, with the squid rings super lightly and completely non greasily battered. The inky aioli made a pleasant change from the usual, and the drizzled sriracha gave the whole thing a fiery bite. Nice one, Cyril!
As a main course, the Lovely Husband went for a smarter version of the ultimate comfort food, Smoked Salmon, Crayfish & Spinach Macaroni Cheese. The bowl was steaming and the portion generous but, disappointingly, it lacked crunch and punch. The fishy ingredients were barely discernible and offered no contrast to the intense carbohydrate mushiness of the pasta. It was perfectly edible but quite mind-blowingly boring and reminded us rather too much of genuine nursery food in its blandness.
Sadly, I didn’t fare much better with my choice of Roasted Squash, Beetroot, Wild Mushroom & Quinoa Salad, Toasted Seeds & Sherry Vinegar. I’d picked it from the menu because it sounded healthy, earthy and warming, and just right on this chilly drizzly evening. Again, there was lots of it looking pretty on the plate but, I suspect, the squash had been cooked rather than roasted, so it lacked the sweetness I was expecting. The beetroot was neither crunchy, fruity nor vinegary, and the mushrooms were floppy and tasteless, the whole thing tepid in temperature and temperament. Where had all the flavours gone? Gone to mush, everyone.
Ah well, there was still hope. Maybe the Rhubarb, Pear, Apple & Cinnamon Crumble with Custard would thrill our socks off. There was certainly enough of it. We could easily have fed another two people at our table! And yes, it was lovely, fruity and tart. Shame the crumbly bit on top was, erm, how to put it? Well, non crunchy and barely there and the custard kind of thin and watery. Hey ho.
Bother, bother, bother! I so very much wanted to give this place a good write-up. The Lighthouse has a great atmosphere and is such a nice place to be! I really like it. But the food….let’s just say it’s okay if you’re 27, have just got in from a muddy match on a rainy day, playing some high octane sport, and already have several beers under your belt. It’s plentiful, hot and stodgy and recharges all the calories you will have lost.
Our bill was very reasonable at £57.94 including service, coffee, a glass of wine and one of beer. Service was friendly and welcoming.
What I wore
Zu jeans, brown reversible Hermes belt, Joseph cream cashmere polo neck, Emporia Armani tweed jacket, brown mock crock Mulberry bag, brown flat boots
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