Jan makes excellent pot roast and Yorkshire pudding as she learned from her grandparents. While in London, we wanted to try local pot roast dinners and Jan did some research to find a very old pub called The Grapes which served it on Sundays. It was a bit outside the central London, but Google maps indicated about 6.5 – 7 miles from where we were staying and that did not sound too far even to people from Rhode Island! Little did we know that on Sundays special athletic events were organized on the streets of London and this Sunday it was a bicycle road race. The taxi driver politely informed us when he went over a bridge that he was making a slight detour to avoid the traffic. Even with his informed driving that 8-mile distance took about 40 minutes.
According to their Web site, The Grapes is one of the oldest pubs in London and Charles Dickens was a patron. Located in the Limehouse district, it is a very narrow building right on Thames. In some ways, it reminded me the old villas on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. On the first floor is the bar and a few tables and dinner is served upstairs. We had reservations and they showed us upstairs. In the very narrow dining room there were probably 6-7 tables and the view outside was interesting despite the overcast sky. They took our dinner order but we had to get the drinks downstairs, and our pot roast and Yorkshire puddings arrived in due course. I am used to Jan’s style of Yorkshire pudding which she makes in a large rectangular tray and cuts it into pieces to serve. At The Grapes, they made individual pop-over style pudding which was puffy but it did not have the crisp bottom I expected. The dinner was good, and quite inexpensive especially for London at 10 Pounds per serving.
While waiting for the dinners and after we were done, we took turns to step outside to the balcony to enjoy the view. It is interesting to note that from one balcony Ergun, Jan, and I noticed different things and photographed them. I totally overlooked the statue of a man in the middle of the water which both Jan and Ergun photographed. I looked down and saw the patrons on the balcony on the first floor and neither Ergun nor Jan noticed that view. That’s the beauty of photography, we “see” different things even from a tiny balcony.
Since the tables were reserved by time, we had to leave shortly after we were done eating. They waitress offered to call a taxi for us, and we stepped outside to wait for it. After a while, I noticed a van standing in front of the pub and it turned out that he came to pick us up in an unmarked vehicle with no meter. The driver was from a Far East country and was not pleased to drive in heavy traffic. He offered to drop us at the underground station instead of driving us to Sloan Square. I told him that we would prefer to stay on course despite his frequent complaints about the traffic. He took several turns to avoid traffic here and there but it was slow-moving. After he started ranting about the traffic and that we would be better off taking the underground, even Jan could not stand him and scolded him to keep driving. Interestingly, despite all his complaints the drive back took maybe even less time, certainly not any more than the drive to the pub. After we arrived at the Phoenix House, Ergun paid him and later told us that his fee was almost half of that the metered taxi charged.
That was an interesting outing, we saw places slightly outside the central London, ate at an historic pub (perhaps even shared a table with Dickens), and learned that Jan made a mean pot roast and Yorkshire pudding dinner.