BY PALOMA LACY
Attention to detail will make or break a restaurant and last weekend’s visit to Knowles of Norwood illustrated beautifully how smoothly operations can run with the right man at the helm
As we were part of a large group celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday, general manager Chris called me on Sunday morning to explain that due to popularity, pre-ordering our roast was advisable to avoid disappointment.
This is my kind of thinking. There’s nothing worse than arriving to find your first and second choices are sold out. We had pre-booked an area at the back of the pub and as I arrived exceptionally early, I settled in, quietly in a corner, and waited for the others to arrive at the designated 4pm time.
Each of our three tables had reserved signs on, with diners welcome to take the weight off, until the allotted time. From 3pm, Chris politely reminded people they would need to vacate the tables by 4pm. He did so most charmingly, and with a smile.
Bang on 4pm, our party arrived and within 15 minutes, out came our roasts, all at the same time.
This is exactly how service should happen. Plates piled high, with a choice of lamb, beef, chicken or butternut squash and mushroom wellington.
I opted for chicken but had major food envy when I spotted the veggie option, the massive slice of wellington would easily have fed two. Every element of the plate was spot on, juicy meat, crispy roast potatoes, herb infused root veg and the most seemingly difficult of all to get right, perfect and real gravy. Best of all, even though it took a good half an hour to work my way through the mound of food, the gravy, maintained its liquidity.
Gelatinous gravy does not work for me. A humongous Yorkshire pudding topped off the best roast I’ve had in a very long time. The Sunday menu at Knowles is small – four or so starters, the same number of roasts and a handful of desserts – but this is just as it should be.
You could see from the streamlined kitchen, these were a group of chefs well practiced at the seamless business of commercial cooking. This group was calm, organised and absolutely no drama, operating efficiently behind the scenes.
Knowles is a family pub, with many enjoying that important weekend lunched, followed by a more adult vibe come nightfall. The ambiance created here is to be envied, with some relaxing over a variety of board games and others kicking back over a drink and listening to the live music. I loved Knowles and will be back.
Paloma was not a guest of Knowles of Norwood. 294-296 Norwood Rd, SE27 9AF.
Call 0208 670 0436.