Could the gastropub finally be coming to south-east London? I was curious to find out when I learnt that The Rosendale, in West Dulwich, had been taken over by Renaissance Pubs. The team already has a number of quality orientated pub-restaurants in the Wandsworth/Balham area, but this is its biggest venture to date.
Our first intention to visit on a Saturday night was foiled by a private function that had taken over the whole building. (I later learn that this was an outstanding commitment from the previous ownership and would not be the norm).
We tried again, successfully, a few weeks ago and again on a Saturday night. This time we booked ahead and we were warmly welcomed. In fact the waiting staff were attentive from start to finish and there were certainly plenty of them fluttering around the tables.
The starters offered plenty of choice – I might have gone for the squid & cuttlefish with chorizo, fennel and rocket – but we decided to jump straight to main dishes. My partner’s sirloin steak was tender and cooked as requested – no complaints there. My Guinea fowl with creamy leeks, peas and potato fondant was excellent but a little more potato would have been welcome. Guinea fowl can be dry but this one was moist, tasty and came with a delicious sauce. So far so good, although we were finding the ‘background’ music a bit intrusive and we were having to raise our voices to hear each other.
By the time we’d finished the mains we were about half way down a bottle of very drinkable South African Syrah so the British cheese board seemed like a good idea to go with the rest of the wine. This was a bit disappointing in both presentation and content. The board came with a selection of three cheeses and one or two slightly soft large puffy cheese biscuits. Two were tasty enough – a firm goat’s cheese and a cheddar – but the third, a Somerset brie, was bland (and in my experience this cheese always is…).
The cheese board needs a bit more attention as not everyone wants to end their meal with something sweet AND the wine list is impressive (for south-east London it’s positively ground-breaking). So, like us, customers might want to end their meal with a plate of good cheese and a glass of wine.
Careful thought has gone into the wines and the presentation of the list. You can find your way through quite a large selection guided by style descriptions such as ‘zesty and zingy’ or ‘smooth and round’ and if you just want one glass there are quite a few choices (175ml or 250ml) as well as the 500ml carafe.
The drinks list also offers cocktails, bottled beers – including three from London’s Meantime brewery – and whiskies from around the world. All this can be enjoyed in the bar area near the entrance along with bar snacks including burgers, Welsh rarebit or half a pint of prawns or in the restaurant area.
Under the previous ownership, The Rosendale was an upmarket restaurant that didn’t last. Now it offers something that will hopefully keep the locals coming back and, give or take a few minor details, we came away satisfied. What’s for sure is that south-east London needs The Rosendale and a lot more places like it.
The Rosendale, 65 Rosendale Rd, West Dulwich, SE1 8EZ, www.therosendale.co.uk
Two courses for two with wine: approximately £70