I couldn’t possibly be sure, not being a businessman, but I think this was a business lunch. Butler’s Wharf Chophouse feels like a place conceived exclusively for this purpose. Occupying one of two two-river facing sites at Shad Thames that doesn’t scream ‘hit and miss’, it ought really to have its share of a monopoly here. Particularly today, where you’d think the Baltic temperatures outside would be more than conducive to a menu which couldn’t be stronger on classics if it was in Latin.
The food’s simple and wholesome and the prices are modest. So modest, in truth, that you wonder if you wouldn’t prefer to pay more for certain dishes. This approach only really succeeds, you see, if the pub or restaurant in question can deliver proper value on the plate - visual as well as physical - at the prices they’re charging. And I’m just not sure post-recession punters are as conscious of a pinch as perhaps they were when these concepts began infiltrating a market then insatiable for what Mum use to make. Latterly, I’ve been as unsure half the places that have adopted this approach are trying as hard as they might to ensure they follow through on what, on the face of it, they set out to achieve. The same goes here.
It’s a mark of the places I’m drawn to/ keep finding myself at, probably, but I’m growing tired of saying this; ‘It was fine’. With neither venue – pale wood and white table cloths – nor service standing out, you’re relying heavily on the food for a flourish. Well, perhaps not a flourish given the style of product here, but at least as being the thing you most remember. What I remember is that my chips weren’t as hot as they should have been. The burger they came with (£12) was soft and well seasoned and I made unseasonably short work of both. Whether because I was hungry or because there wasn’t much of either I’m not completely sure. Pigsy’s Toad in the Hole – three sausages in a big Yorkshire with onion gravy for £10, was reportedly decent. Decent, but not special, ample but not generous, and pretty uninspiring to look at.
The corporate bumf alludes not only to the views The Chophouse affords of Tower Bridge but also to the comfortable seating from which to take them in. Have to query that. The half-backed horseshoe digging in to my vertebrae did neither my posture, my digestion, nor my ability to absorb information I could barely begin to take in if I was reading it large-print from a poolside hammock, any favours at all. I intimated this was a business lunch didn’t I? Well it was in the sense that before, during, and after, both of us had work to do. For my part, how to do it remains more than a minor issue. Between you and I, free food aside, I’m rapidly discovering Pigsy’s business really ain’t none of mine.