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The Garrison Reviewed

Nicole Dalamagas fights a losing battle with a rogue scoop of ice-cream

Written by . Published on October 12th 2011.

The Garrison Reviewed

"Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer." (John Hector St. John, 1778)

LAST week came as a shock. Heat is not something we’re accustomed to on the Albion. Soggy, summer months typically precede dirty, winter sludge, with grey skies and unwelcome drizzles their perpetual companion. So when grey became blue and a proud, blazing sun appeared, it was no surprise that you couldn’t swing a stick without hitting a skiving office worker at lunchtime on Bermondsey Street.

Stuffed aubergineStuffed aubergine

My editor and I, never ones to miss out on an opportunity, took a Friday afternoon long lunch at The Garrison. Located just a stone’s throw away from Borough Market, as well as a whole string of quirky (and I hate to use that word, but it really is fitting here) cafés and restaurants that effortlessly cater to modern city slickers, with their soya milks and faux-Japanese and gluten-free who knows what, The Garrison has a lot to compete with.

Roasted butternut squashRoasted butternut squash

Luckily, its bright, art nouveau exterior, with green tiling and smoked-glass windows, has enormous pulling power; if The Garrison was a man, he’d have the looks of Ryan Gosling, the schmooze of Hugh Grant and pack a punch in the kitchen. As you enter the white-washed wooden doors, complete with two huge hanging baskets of matching white flowers, light ricochets from every wooden beam and French chateau-style trapping, blinding each shuffling footstep taken in a hazy whirlwind of sensory overload. Head spinning and eyes blinking uncontrollably, I began to piece together the bright, flashing images now imprinted in my mind: a mish-mash of furniture lay labyrinthine across the wooden floorboards; a deer head peered over from the corner like an angry parent; knickknacks, bric-a-brac, thingymabobs galore; the morbid and the modern married together in a museum of debauchery.

Baked Portobello mushroomBaked Portobello mushroom

We were directed to a scratched out wooden table of our own, by a cheery and rosy-cheeked waitress, whose hospitable demeanor was far removed from the military connotations of The Garrison’s name. A glance at the menu proved that the gastropub earned its prefix for a reason; early birds are rewarded at breakfast when the locally sourced ingredients are at their freshest, and a diverse range of rare roasts, including duck and goose can be ordered on Sundays. Simple, home cooking is the order of the day here, with an emphasis on fuss-free food and wholesome ingredients. Whilst we salivated over this feast of temptation, we appeased our appetites with a glass of cuvee d'etoiles, vin de table de France (£3.90) and another of terre forti trebbiano chardonnay, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (£3.90). The wine was delicious, however, the smouldering heat had the best of me and I couldn’t finish more than a few sips. My editor on the other hand, knocked hers back with ease – she is a New Yorker after all.

Toasted hazlenut and apple saladToasted hazlenut and apple salad

I chose the vegetarian special of the day, a whole aubergine, stuffed with quinoa, feta, spinach, sultanas and walnut salsa (£11.50) and a side of roast butternut squash, crispy sage (£3.50). I can honestly say the aubergine was outstanding, and opened my eyes up to a whole, new world of quinoa, which, I’m told, is the only complete protein available to a vegetarian. The walnut salsa and sultanas added sweetness, whilst the feta gave that extra punch. The squash was perfectly cooked, hearty and delicious – just the way it should be.

gingerbread with honey ice-creamgingerbread with honey ice-cream

My health-conscious editor chose just a starter – like I said, she’s a New Yorker – of baked Portobello mushroom, goat’s cheese, pesto and mixed leaves (£7) accompanied by a toasted hazelnut, apple and rocket salad (£3.60).The Portobello mushroom was another hit, although admittedly on the small side for its price, but the side salad was, unfortunately, a sad display of browning apple, limp lettuce and not a hazlenut in sight.  

Going, going....Going, going....

We decided to share a dessert of gingerbread, honey ice-cream, butterscotch sauce (£5.60), more out of curiousity than out of hunger. However the minute it reached our table, the mocking sun had already begun to work its menace. The sad scoop of ice-cream slid of its gingerbread thrown almost immediately, pausing only slightly on the hilt as though for one last fight, before disappearing below the slice when the shame became too much to handle. The dessert, although tasty, was not much to look at (even before the ice-cream melted) and there was way too much butterscotch sauce even for a sweet tooth like mine.


However, despite its small faults, which are little more then presentation tweaks really, I would most definitely reccomend The Garrison. They also hold a free weekly film club on a Sunday in their basement cinema room, so perhaps next time I'll opt for a roast and a movie and pass on dessert.

The Garrison
99 Bermondsey Street

Follow @NicoleDalamagas on Twitter!

Food - 6/10
Service - 4/5
Ambience - 4/5
Total - 14/20

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1 – 5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6 – 9 get a DVD, 10 – 11 if you must, 12 – 13 if you’re passing, 14 – 15 worth a trip, 16 –17 very good, 17 – 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: We get carried away.


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