Him off of the telly, Gregg Wallace from Masterchef has opened a restaurant. In the words of the man himself, ‘It looks great but does it deliver on FLAVOUR??’ (in a loud shouty voice). In a nutshell, it doesn’t. The problem is that Gregg has really set himself up for scrutiny, being obsessed on Masterchef with BIG FLAVOURS.
Walking in, I felt optimistic. Wallace & Co is a beautifully designed space comprised of a deli counter, a greengrocer section filled with abundant fresh vegetables with a large cafe behind. The whole place is a really comfortable, homely place which attracts masses of families, but in a good way.
My Virgin Mary was probably the only thing in the whole meal that wasn't a disappointment…well, almost. It was tasty with a good punch, but it didn't come with a stick of celery, and the straw they put in it was in upside down! I never even eat the celery anyway though, so this wasn’t a biggie to me.
We started with a feta, mint, cucumber and olive salad. Surprisingly, the menu didn't make any mention of the endive leaves the salad sat on, which were fresh and crispy but didn't really go with the rest of the mish-mash-mush. Where was the feta? And the mint? I asked the waitress where the mint was and she said it was ‘cooked with mint’. I pointed out it was a raw and she said it must be infused in the dressing. And why use black olives that taste of tin? And for £5.50, why so small? I’m normally one to find something nice to say about a dish but this one simply needs to come off the menu.
Next up was my tomato and goat’s curd quiche. The idea behind the dish was great – to show off delicious juicy tomatoes and creamy goat’s curd. I've never really understood when people said that pastry could be tough, but now I do. The texture of the egg custard itself was everything about a quiche that people don’t like, almost gelatinous. Very weird. And it’s no mean feat to make something taste of absolutely nothing. The star of the dish was the interesting peppery leaves that accompanied it.
The filling of James’ steak and ale pie was nice enough but, again, the pastry was tough. For me, a pie like that should be covered with puff pastry, rather than shortcrust, and certainly not tough-as-old-boots pastry! There was a tiny bit of mashed potato on the side which had been piped on using the star-shaped nozzle - surprisingly twee and un-Gregg Wallace-like (or am I getting him all wrong?).
Needless to say we skipped dessert. On the way out we had a look at the desserts which were at the deli counter and I’m glad we did skip it - all really naff-ly decorated and looked like they'd been sitting around for a while. Having said that, other reviews I've read have been quite positive about the puds so maybe that's what you should have there.
I really wanted to like Wallace & Co because because it has such a nice atmosphere and the interior really is beautiful, sadly I think it is fundamentally flawed as the dishes are so badly executed. No photos...I was too disappointed and irritated by the whole place that I decided not to take any, on principle!
Pull it together Gregg, at the moment I’d rather go to Gregg’s for a soggy pasty.
Wallace & Co
146 Upper Richmond Road