Last weekend was memorably sunny (I’ve lived in London long enough to say things like “I remember that sunny week in April 2007″), so Jon and I headed to the South Bank, one of our favorite places to walk in good weather. Instead of our usual walk west past the Globe and Tate Modern, we headed east towards Tower Bridge to meet our friends Andy and Maggie for lunch at one of their fave gastropubs, the Garrison.
The Garrison has a bright, cheery interior with high ceilings. It feels old and modern at the same time, and it was packed last weekend, as many good gastropubs are. Eating lunch at a gastropub on weekends is the closest ritual here to having brunch, I think.
The food options were homey and eclectic. You had classics like roast beef (which looked rare and good, though a bit meagre), and you had a few surprises, like Maggie’s homemade herb-stuffed ravioli.
Me, I couldn’t resist the meatloaf. I haven’t had meatloaf in about ten years. Upon ordering, I worried a bit that I’d end up with a dense brick of meat, a la school cafeteria lunches of days past. But I shouldn’t have worried. My meatloaf was almost – fluffy! There must have been a lot of breadcrumbs in there, because if I closed my eyes, I’d swear I was eating a matzoh ball made of pork. [Oh, wouldn’t that be ironic!?] I enjoyed the juicy, meaty, “lightness” of it, and the slightly-firm, bright veg on the side were also great. The potatoes were stale, which was too bad. I’ll bet when they came out of the oven, they were magnificently crispy.
For the healthier among you (Jon, my make-me-look-bad husband), the fish options were good, too, but why eat fish when you can have meatloaf? Obviously.
Service was cheery, but really, really slow. Your classic two-servers-for-a-hundred people scenario. The tables looked more comfy than the booths, oddly enough. Our booth seemed proportioned for, I dunno, leprechauns(?) (and I am not a tall person), so prepare to have your knees knocked up a bit if you end up at a booth.
The Garrison was a lively, pretty place, and if it were in my neighborhood, I’d be there all the time. But it’s about a 15-minute walk from London Bridge station, so I’ll go back only if I’m taking visitors out to see the Tower of London/Tower Bridge. Andy and Maggie love the breakfasts there, but note that the Garrison stops serving brekkie at 11, which is a bit early for me.
Most starters cost about £5; most mains £14/£15. Our total tab for main courses only, coffees and (my fave) Luscombe lemonades came to about £20 a person.
The Garrison, 99-101 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XB, 0207 089 9355; closest tube station: London Bridge