The Florence – Herne Hill

16 Dec

Last week it was a friend’s birthday and this friend thought that the best way to celebrate this birthday would be to eat food. I like the way you think, I thought, as I received an email inviting me to join her at The Florence for a nice bit of pub grub. So with that I found myself on Sunday afternoon in Herne Hill opening the door of The Prince Regent and wondering why I couldn’t see her sat anywhere (just a small example of my poor sense of direction). Waving goodbye to the drunk man sat outside I walked further down the road to be greeted by a far more personable kind of pub – flattering lighting and attractive people in their early 30s. It still took a lap and a half round the room and a scouring of a sort of family communal eating area before I managed to find the birthday girl – hello!

I settled down by a radiator and a waitress quickly took my drink order. With the promise of some home-brewed beer I demanded that she bring me a pint. She informed me that they brewed some ale called Weasel. Or Beaver. I don’t remember. Not because I drank too much of it, no. There is something about ale that means I find it near impossible to finish a glass. I enjoy drinking it but it seems to take on the quality of a magical bottomless drink so that after an hour I am left with three quarters of a glass of luke warm amber liquid. I’ll take three generous gulps and yet it doesn’t seem to make a difference – the cup will always be three quarters full. So I just don’t remember the name because I forgot to remember it.

The menu had a selection of roast meats on offer. Usually I would aim for something that was once a cow and would potentially arrive on my plate rare and oozing blood. But something else caught my eye. Something too good to turn down. Those magic words – BREAD SAUCE. Like a souffle or lobster bisque, if bread sauce is on the menu I have to order it. I know it is isn’t even the main part of the dish but when something can be as comforting and delicious as bread sauce always is, who cares? So the fact that it came with roast chicken was a non issue. I rarely see the point of ordering chicken when the other meats on offer are generally far more exciting, but with bread sauce it would be like opening the doors to Narnia in my mouth.

The food arrived quite quickly. I had a yorkshire pudding about the size of my head balancing precariously on the top of my plate. Good start so far. As soon as I could get a hold of it I took the yorkshire in one hand looked for the bread sauce. There was a rather disconcerting lump of dry crumbs and onion lurking in the corner of the plate – although definitely made out of bread there was a distinct lack of sauce like quality to it. Holding back tears I realised this was my lot. Emitting loud sighs I ate my yorkshire like I would an apple while I prodded at the mound of dry with a fork. When I finally brought myself round to trying it I was pleased with the flavour, but the missing wet did mean that I was unable to enjoy it as I should.

The real winner of this dish was the chicken. They gave me a portion which I struggled to finish (always a win in my book) and it was moist allllll the way through. Despite it being under seasoned, the meat was full of flavour and tender.

Never one to turn down a pudding I was ready to order some apple and blackberry crumble with custard but everyone else seemed to be ordering coffee or putting on their coats and leaving. Not to risk feeling self-conscious by stuffing my face and probably making odd groaning sounds, my boyfriend and I decided to head off in search of another dessert. We went to Gail’s in Clapham Junction which sells the best chocolate chip cookies this world has ever seen. Rather than go with the familiar, we spent £7 on a coconut and chocolate loaf cake. Accompanied by a nice hot mug of tea it didn’t stop being as dry as the proverbial bone and nothing could wash away the overriding taste of sugar. At least the tea was good.

If I have learnt anything about the Sunday just past it is not to order a dish just because bread sauce is part of it. Saying that, old habits die hard. I can’t ever imagine changing my ways.

The Florence
131-133 Dulwich Road London SE24 0NG

One Response to “The Florence – Herne Hill”

  1. Jyotsna December 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    “I rarely see the point of ordering chicken when the other meats on offer are generally far more exciting, but with bread sauce it would be like opening the doors to Narnia in my mouth.”

    Haha, Naomi, I love this sentence and I love this blog. Gail’s annoys me though, always stuffed to the brim with prams.


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