Neighbourhood: River Heights
Address: 166 Stafford Street
Entrees: $16 – $19
The warm glow of low-hanging lamps illuminates diners behind The Grove’s street-facing windows and draws in passers-by without warning – but give into the pull and you’ll be happy to discover the charm of this British gastropub.
A modest lounge and dining room scattered with simple wooden chairs and small tables are separated by a dark, horse-shoe shaped bar seating patrons face-to-face. It is the first hint to this neighbourhood hang’s philosophy: community, camaraderie and sharing drinks with close mates.
The menu is clue number two. Shareable crowd-pleasers prompt enjoying food in the company of others. Palate prickling gochujang wings offer novel subtle spice and baked feta dip soothes appetites with a velvety moat of warm, salty, and cheesy delight. A similar richness characterizes the chicken pot pie, swimming in cream sauce and mixed with meat and vegetables under a golden layer of puff pastry.
Familiar pub-grub with inventive spark embraces eaters of all generations. Those from the other side of the pond will gladly notice Brit chips (fries) and sarnies (sandwiches) dotting the menu. The salmon sarnie swaps cod for a generous portion of succulent and flaky fish. Zesty chèvre and avocado add a luscious creaminess and tart grilled pineapple cuts with hints of sour and sweet.
Popular pizza picks and reimagined pies cohabitate on the menu. Paige 2.0 swaps expected sauce for a sweet hoisin glaze that mellows out spicy slices of jalapeño. Morsels of tender chicken and bacon intermingle with sweet cooked onion and chèvre. Chewy house-made crust creates an ultra-thin bite that lets luxurious toppings shine.
Sugarcoated cinnamon sticks reminiscent of a Mexican churro might not be exclusively British, but crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside pastry with warm chocolate caramel sauce is enough to win over the heart of any bloke. The Grove has surely won ours.