When I told my friend Heidi that I was taking her for dinner at The Grey Horse in Kingston she raised an eyebrow. “The Grey Horse? That used to be a music venue and was a bit of a dive. We’re having dinner there?” Apparently when Heidi was a teenager (don’t ask how long ago that was), The Grey Horse was where she and her friends used to go out and it was rather dark and dingy. Perfect if you weren’t quite 18…
But that was a long time ago and well, that’s certainly all changed! It’s now a modern, trendy bar, restaurant and events venue. The Grey Horse closed in 2014 and underwent extensive refurbishment by the owners Leigh White and Sam Daffin. I think it’s fair to say that if you’d been a previous patron, it’s almost unrecognisable. However, they have stayed true to the roots and paid homage to the venue’s musical history. There are photos all over with musicians (some very famous) and local bands that have played at The Grey Horse over the years. There’s a fantastic painted mural of the legendary Jimi Hendrix – who’s played at the venue – on the wall in the dining room next to the door that leads through to the RamJam club. In fact the night that we went Eric Ranzoni, a jazz musician, was playing.
When you enter The Grey Horse you are first greeted by the impressive bar, which houses the largest selection of single malt whisky in London. It features a bottle from every Scottish distillery still producing, as well as a number of rare whiskeys. We arrived at 7:30 on a Thursday night and the bar was fairly busy.
We went on through to the dining area and were shown to our table by the lovely co-owner, Leigh (pictured above) who proceeded to take care of us all evening. We started with drinks and Heidi decided to try the Tea Old Fashioned cocktail, given that The Grey Horse has such a fabulous whisky selection. I was a bit boring I’m afraid and chose to have a glass of Rioja.
For starters, I chose the prawn fritters, which came with a chilli, lime and charred corn salsa. Heidi opted for the grilled flatbread with hummus and dukkah (an Egyptian condiment made up of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices.), which is from the nibbles section of the menu. If I’m honest, the fritters were a little bit on the stodgy side and could have been lighter. The salsa was good though and added a lightness to the dish.
Heidi’s flatbread with hummus was delicious!
Given that this is a BBQ restaurant, there was no way I was not going to order some sort of barbecued meat. I opted for the medium-sized Jacobs Ladder Beef Rib, which is cooked over Big Bertha, their charcoal fueled oven and served with homemade pickles. I also ordered macaroni cheese with parmesan crumb as a side. Heidi went for the salmon fillet, which is also barbecued on Big Bertha and served with miso béarnaise, cucumber and fennel. She had the burnt broccoli with soy yoghurt and chilli as a side. If you’re a non-meat eater, there were a fair few fish and vegetarian options on the menu but vegetarians may want to skip the next paragraph…
I cannot describe in words how mouth-wateringly delicious the beef rib is. It was also cooked to absolute perfection – pink, tender, juicy and succulent. Honestly, I am salivating right now just writing about it. The pickles were really good and the sweet and sourness perfectly complimented the smokiness of the beef. The beef rib is served off the bone so no need to worry about getting your fingers in a sticky mess. This is sophisticated BBQ eating! The macaroni cheese was also really good too although I’m afraid I could only manage a few mouthfuls as I was really full from the beef and my starter. Definitely come hungry!
Just look how amazing the beef rib is! It was so tender – they even serve the clean as a whistle bone on your plate so you can see how it just fell off.
Heidi declared the salmon as phenomenal and I had a bite and had to agree with her that it was indeed very yummy. The burnt broccoli was a very good accompaniment to the salmon and they complimented each other. All in all, we were very impressed.
We were both pretty full but you cannot review a restaurant and not try dessert! Plus, there’s always space for dessert, right? They all sounded great but we opted for the Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart with Salt Caramel Ice-cream. It was a really generous portion and we scoffed the lot. Dark chocolate and salt caramel is a winning combination in my books.
After we were done, Leigh very kindly invited us to watch Eric Ranzoni in the RamJam club but I needed to roll myself home to North London. We have friends in Kingston so I can’t wait to bring them to The Grey Horse for dinner and cocktails. And this time, we may take in some music too.
Our meal at The Grey Horse was complimentary.