Published on March 16th, 2016 | by Ben Southwood0
The Grey Horse, Kingston
Summary: The Grey Horse is the first place in Kingston I'd really recommend—its barbecue food is almost on the level of the best places in the centre of the capital
I think that The Grey Horse is now the best restaurant in Kingston. I’ll put that right at the top because it’s probably the most important point in the review: The Grey Horse doesn’t do everything perfectly but it’s a lovely place to go for dinner in a town with mostly just decent offerings (Stein’s aside).
The Grey Horse is two rooms: a pub in one, and a much bigger restaurant in the other. The restaurant is not a half-hearted afterthought or a way of getting extra money from punters, but at least as considered as the pub. Part of its selling point is its extensive collection of whiskies, listed in a gigantic board adorning one of the pub walls, and even split into Bourbon, Speyside, Highland, Lowland and so on. Another part of its selling point is the craft beer selection, which has quite a large number of beers, though most of them are American-style IPAs. They also sell cocktails, including three tasty variations on the old fashioned.
The room is covered in pictures of classic rock bands, guitarists and bluesmen—it also functions as a music venue—not really my thing but it’s nice it has flavour. The tables are a mix of half-booth edge seats and higher longer 8-person stool affairs. They kept the lights at an appropriate level throughout the night. The service was attentive and friendly.
Most important, of course, was the food. I’ll dispense with the misstep first: the chicken wings are not good. They aren’t nearly the worst I’ve had in London (that dubious honour goes to ChickenLiquor in Brixton). They were meaty, from a nice chicken, and smoked to give a depth of flavour. But the chicken skin was not deep-fried to crispiness, and if you fail on this you’ve failed entirely when it comes to chicken wings. What’s more, the sauce was Asian-inspired and sweet, rather than the Frank’s/butter mix that one looks for.
Thankfully, the rest of the food was wonderful. Pumpkin chowder with crispy fried leeks (£5) was hearty and warm, with generous chunks of smoked haddock. Celery, cucumber and onion pickles were fresh, zingy and sweet. My broccoli was cooked to a perfect al dente with sour yoghurt.
And best of all were the ribs three ways (£20): beef ribs, a huge St. Louis cut rib from an Iberico pig, and a half baby back rack of pork. The beef ribs were perfectly cooked: smoky bark on the outside; incredible tender shreds of pink inside; lines of soft fat.
The regular pork ribs were the smokiest thing I’d ever tasted, a flavour that kept with me for hours. The Iberico rib was so incredibly flavourful we wondered if it had been cured, and came with a generous slab of juicy tender meat. Really, these guys know how to work a smoker.
The desserts were fabulous too. Deep fried apple pie with cinnamon ice cream was like a McDonald’s apple pie but even better, and the cold spicy ice cream was a perfect companion. My peanut butter and chocolate tart was incredibly dense and combining it with salted caramel ice cream made for a luxurious, indulgent combination.
Kingston, for a rich town, has long lacked anywhere good to eat. I like Pizza Express, and the other chains are occasionally OK too, but shouldn’t Kingston have somewhere interesting to go to? The Grey Horse is the first place in town I’d really recommend—its barbecue food is almost on the level of the best places in the centre of the capital.
The Grey Horse, 46 Richmond Rd, Kingston, KT2 5EEShare This Post