|Bemused by The Bollo|
Emma Brophy wonders if she's missing the point
Ever get that feeling that everyone gets something and you’re the only person that doesn’t, like the Channel 4 series Lost or the talents of Sienna Miller? Well that’s how I feel about The Bollo.
The Bollo Lane gastropub appears to be a popular of choice of those who like to lunch – well at least those who like to lunch with me! But it begs the question why when we are amply blessed with so many excellent establishments in which to eat and drink do so many still choose this one?
Normally my husband and I are of the same opinion when it comes to such things (or quiet probably he agrees with me for a quiet life) however even he thinks I am being pernickety. And of course there is the chance he could be right if being pernickety is not liking dirty tables, smoky atmospheres and sullen service.
This opinion of mine, however misguided in the eyes of my friends and family, was not formed on just one occasion but over several visits to the pub – like I said the venue of choice!
Granted my first visit to The Bollo was really rather good but then that was back in the days when it was part of The Chiswick Restaurant and The Salt House family and featured in a Michelin guide. Alas things have changed considerably since the ownership changed.
I was there for lunch recently with some work colleagues. The pub’s usual mixed clientele was already in situ when we arrived leaving only a few tables to choose from. Like the scene from Goldilocks - our first choice of table was too large for a conversation, the second was too small (and was in the path of well just about everyone) and our final settling place (a cleanish table close to the window) was just right.
With Jack Johnson crooning in the background we perused our photocopied menus. Sectioned into Appetisers, 2 Course Set Menu at £10.95, Mains from £7.95, Sandwiches and Sharing Plates from £5.95, a £6.50 Lunch Special (different dish from Monday to Friday) and Sunday Roasts (3 courses for £14.95 or individually priced) – the menu is varied and looks appetising enough.
Being previously under-whelmed by Thursday’s lunch special of Omelette with a tomato salad, I played safe with a Chicken and Bacon Sandwich (without the bacon though as I can’t bring myself to eat bacon that I haven’t cooked myself!) on foccacia with homemade chips (£5.95).
The dish consisted of a hunk of foccacia housing a sorry piece of what looked like chicken breast and was accompanied by greyish slabs of potato and salad leaves was placed. I waited with baited breath for at least one of my companions to remark on the unappetising appearance of my lunch but both were silent. One colleague who had ventured to try the under-whelming omelette actually looked like she was enjoying it (although she did admit later after constant badgering that perhaps she wouldn’t choose that particular dish again).
Back to my lunch and I have to admit that the chicken wasn’t bad and the tangy mayonnaise that it was swimming in was really rather ok. However, it was at this moment, lulled into a false sense of security as I was, that I tried one of my chips or more accurately soggy wedges of potato with a strangely powdery interior. They were without doubt the worst pub chips I have ever tried and believe me I have tried a few!
Thinking that I had finally won the “what on earth do people see in The Bollo” argument I noticed that all around me were diners who all appeared perfectly content with their Thursday luncheon. Indeed my own lunch companions were both so engrossed with clearing their plates that they didn't seem to notice how our waitresses' demeanour, which had been pleasant to start, had nose-dived into what can be most generously described as sullen.
Therefore considering it was two against one (and that was just our table) I must conclude that The Bollo’s magnetism is something I simply don’t get. Perhaps in future I should decline invitations to lunch there and try and get to grips with Lost!
May 15, 2006