Wallace & Co - "What a Welcome Addition"
One local resident has become a "regular" at Putney's newest eatery
What a welcome addition Wallace & Co is to the Putney scene. On the Upper Richmond Road sandwiched between Pizza Express and Nandos and staggering distance from East Putney tube station, it is an oasis providing simple, well-prepared and competitively priced comfort food. It opened on the 15th of January and since then I have visited it seven times sampling dinner, lunch twice, a snack lunch once, coffee twice and vino collapso once. I really like this place.
It is a totally unpretentious restaurant/bistro/café bar, the brainchild of the eponymous Gregg Wallace (the follicly challenged foodie from the Masterchef TV series whose method of tasting food is almost painful to watch). This guy loves his food and is passionate about good quality, well prepared food with attitude; bubble and squeak, shepherd's pie, treacle tart, and the rest of the stuff that leaves us with a contented smile on our face (and not a scallop in sight). The smile is also forthcoming when the bill arrives.
This place is both welcoming and comfortable; the front of house guys are enthusiastic and you get the real impression that they are enjoying themselves. The tables are not too close together, which enhances the experience. The first thing that arrives on your table is a large carafe of tap water; no rip off on the water front.
For dinner I had excellent rib eye steak and thrice cooked chunky chips and my three fellow guests had sea bream, Lancashire hotpot, and monkfish and with four bottles of wine and coffee the bill came to £120 minus service. The wine list, selected by Justin, one of Gregg's business partners, is well balanced and sensibly priced with all of the wines available by the glass.
I took my 17 year old teenager daughter and a girlfriend of hers for lunch, and having demolished excellent bangers and chips and a chicken, leek and mushroom pie and mash (I had to taste both for quality control), assaulted a chocolate tart and apple crumble and custard (similarly tested by yours truly), declared themselves suitably replete and highly contented. My daughter would have liked a spoon with her pie to lap up the sauce; a friend of mine on another occasion felt the same about his steak, mushroom and ale pie.
Both Gregg and Justin are regularly present in the restaurant interacting with their customers and genuinely seeking feedback. You get the feeling that they really care about their customers having a good time.
It is early days so let us see if they can keep this going. The only downside is that although the waiters are all very nice and friendly they have yet to develop peripheral vision to work the room, and have a tendency to herd so trying to catch someone' s eye gets very frustrating. They are not remotely proactive which is fixable but needs to be fixed and quickly.
Would I go there again? You bet. But be warned, at lunchtime it is increasingly full of yummy mummies (there is a suitably priced children's menu) with their offspring and their 4x4 prams, but at least there is a mezzanine area to escape to.
Would I tell my friends? I already have.
On current performance Wallace & Co deserves to succeed although I am not sure how pies are going to fare during the summer months. This is a place worth visiting even if just to sample their cupcakes and muffins, and I have also heard very good comments about their breakfasts and Sunday lunches.
Gromit would approve.
January 29, 2010