Situated on Stone Street at Lower Hardres just outside Canterbury, the Granville is a well-regarded gastro pub. Unlike city centre pubs whose fortunes often depend on the charisma of the landlords (or lack thereof), food-led pubs like the Granville rely on the quality of the nosh.
Sure, the ambience and service are important too, but nobody ever left a five-star review based solely on the wall-décor.
I’ll preface this review by admitting that if pubs could review customers, we probably wouldn’t fare well on this occasion, turning up as we did with two babies and two toddlers while they attempted to cater for a party of 30 adults.
As we take our seats we’re warned we will need to wait before ordering. We had rung ahead, but the large party has presumably taken longer to settle than they had hoped.
Anyone who has kids will know that waits in restaurants can prove problematic with toddlers. You’re on the clock and it’s only a matter of time before even the best-behaved three-year-old will start to get bored.
Then it’s only question of how embarrassed you’re prepared to get in front of your fellow diners before you have to pay up as fast as you can and beat a hasty retreat.
To occupy the children and because the four adults are peckish we order some artisan bread while we’re waiting.
The olive bread is fresh out of the oven. Butter melts instantly, and we’re served with olive oil and thick balsamic vinegar as an accompaniment. A pricey £1.50 per small roll, but it’s heavenly so I let it pass.
Hold on. One of our party doesn’t eat olives. More for the rest of us, but we ask for a portion of plain bread as well. It’s a baguette and it’s a bit stale. Never mind. Serves her right for being fussy.
I order whitebait for my starter. It’s part of a set lunch menu for a pretty reasonable £13.45 for two courses. Some restaurants will load a plate so full of battered fish that you’re stuffed before the main, but not here.
The whitebait are fried not battered and it’s more of a private tuition class than a whole school of fish as the portion definitely isn’t oversized. But they are delicious. Bait worth the wait.
Will my main also be worth the wait I wonder? And I have plenty of time to consider it. The large party seems to all be fed and watered, but maybe the kitchen is struggling to catch up. We’ve been seated at our table for an hour and a half before the mains arrive. Mine is a rump steak for a £5 supplement.
At this point I have a dilemma. Marred only by the presence of a hair, my rare steak is done to perfection, juicy and mouth-watering.
Definitely one of the best steaks I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. But the kids are beginning to turn. Sweet innocent faces will be shortly stealing chips from nearby tables or seeing how far they can get into the kitchen before being accidentally trampled by a rushing waiter.
I wolf it down. It is an exceptional steak. The food is really good here. But now I’ve lost sight of the children who I last saw heading in the direction of the bar. Perhaps they are going to bring me beer. Possibly a bit optimistic.
One of the babies decides to take this opportunity to be sick. The leg breaks on my friend’s chair. It’s probably time to get moving.
There’s a moral to this story. If you want time to savour your food without waiting aeons to be served, go by yourself during the week. If you want to give yourself stress and indigestion, go on a busy Saturday lunchtime.
The Granville is a great pub. It’s well-decorated with a traditional theme. It’s very easy to get to, only a short hop from Canterbury. The food is prepared to an exceptionally high standard and delicious.
As we leave I mention the hair in my steak. Two of my party admit they also found hairs in their food. I briefly consider whether this would stop me going back.
No way. The food was too damn good. I recommend you try it.