The Freemason,2 Northside, Wandsworth Common; Tel. 0203268580; Rail: Clapham Common
Monday, October 15, 2007
The Freemason - worth the wait?
It was a gloriously warm and sunny Sunday. The kind when you want to linger over a pint or two and a leisurely lunch and perhaps the Sunday papers, enjoying the sunshine outside a pub. The day was all the more precious for being in October, and therefore entirely unexpected. But while for us the weather was a pleasant surprise, left The Freemason running very short staffed -- I doubt they had banked on filling all the outside tables at this time of year, as well as all the inside ones. After eventually getting served some well-kept pints of Tiger ale (£3) by the only guy serving customers behind the bar, we got all indecisive over the short menu on a clipboard. But we needn't have hurried with our decisions -- upon going up to the bar to order we were informed that the chef was about to go into meltdown and could we please wait for 15 minutes or so before ordering. We asked for some olives and bread (£1.50) as an interim measure, which arrived as we were finishing the first round of drinks. The olives were green and juicy. But the bread was a bit bland and there was no oil for dipping, leaving us to scramble for any juices left in the tiny olives pot. Some remonstrating with the waitress eventually led to our eating order being taken and, to be fair, the food arrived not too long after that (though about an hour after we first sat down). The burger (£9.75)was a bit too well-done for my taste, though I had been warned it only came medium. The home-made aioli served with the accompanying wages was heavenly in its creamy garlic-ness. The others all went for the roast pork belly (£11.50), resplendently crackling and served with all the usual roast dinner trimmings. It was good, filling grub, and -- mellowed by the sunshine and a second round of beer -- we were prepared to forgive the slow service. But then we waited half an hour for the bill, and only succeed in receiving and paying it when we marched into the bar. The barman asked us if he was correct in assuming we did not want to have a 10 percent service charge added on. No, oddly enough we did not. But it was still a pleasant afternoon, and I hope that the service issue was indeed due to the unseasonable weather (still, surely they could've called in some reinforcements - would have been worth it for all the tips they wouldn't have lost!) rather than just to general incompetence.