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Review: Sunday Brunch at The Regent Gastropub, Balham

BY Boon Koh
Published 29 December 2012
Our Review Rating: 4 out of 10 stars

The Regent is a pub just around the corner from Balham tube station, and very close to where I live. It’s a prime example of a quintessential British pub – high ceilings, wood panelling, a big cavernous place, catering both to football fans with its live sports screening as well as a gastro-pub like menu.

However, I’ve been to The Regent twice so far, and both times the food has disappointed badly. Its not hard to get pub-style food to an acceptable standard – but yet, The Regent struggles even with that.

The first time, I had their classic burger, aged steak beef burger with caramelised onions, which arrived nicely presented – on a slate platter, and looking very appetising and a decent sized portion. Unfortunately, the beef was so overcooked and dry that it was impossible to finish. A burger from McDonalds would have been better. It wasn’t cheap either at £10.50.

The second time, we went for a Sunday brunch. And English pubs are famed for Sunday brunch, and a good way to benchmark the skill of a pub kitchen. Getting Sunday brunch right for a pub is like a burger place getting their toasted burger buns right – absolutely essential.

So it was again disappointing that while my Sunday roast lamb and my partner’s roast pork came in the biggest portions I’ve ever seen for a while, the quality was very mediocre. The full name of my dish was Roast Hereford Poll beef with horseradish sauce:

From the name, you would be expecting a really great cut of beef, just a little pink, succulent and full of flavour. It was the complete opposite – very dry, tasteless, and something that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Wetherspoons pub. The slices of beef was also slightly too thick for my liking – making cutting it with a knife a herculean effort each time. The rest of the dish was OK – gravy was good, veggies were alright, but the star of the plate was sadly disappointing. Especially for the £13.50 price tag.

My partner’s Slow‐roast Gloucestershire pork belly with crackling & apple sauce was slightly better:

As a big crackling fan, it was delightful to see quite a lot of crackling, as you get very little in some places. But again, the meat was very dry and tough, and there was a lot of fat – a bit too much – to make it enjoyable.

The one redeeming factor is that service at The Regent isn’t bad. It was quick, courteous, and as you’d expect at an informal gastropub. But really, The Regent needs to sort out their food. They need to get the basics right – otherwise what’s the point of having more complicated items on the menu such as Roquefort & quince filo tart?

The Regent Pub
Address: The Regent, 21 Chestnut Grove, Balham, London SW12 8JB
Nearest tube station: Balham tube & rail station (2-3 minutes walk)
Phone number: 020 87720546
Website: www.theregentbalham.co.uk