The Palmerston (British, East Dulwich)

The Palmerston is a gastropub on Lordship Lane, the main artery of my manor, East Dulwich. We usually end up passing it by, firstly because we love our solid local, Franklins and secondly because we have vague memories of me moaning that the Palmerston was a rip off. Feeling all delirious and happy with the sunshine however, we decided to give the place a chance – brimming with excitement at the prospect of a leisurely Sunday lunching and plenty of cold beers.The whole way there I couldn’t think of anything else but crab and crossed my fingers it would be on the menu as nothing but the king of crustaceans would satisfy my belly.

While perusing the menu, cold beers in hands, we praised the pub for its airy, modern feel (quite an achievement considering the wood panelled walls) and felt rather pleased with ourselves for deciding to try the place – even more so with the arrival of excellent, crusty bread and soft butter. I was overjoyed to spot crab amongst the starters although my heart sank a bit at the decison to give it a Thai dressing – I was after something more unadorned and unashamedly crabby. Still, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and ordered it, willing them to prove me wrong.

When it arrived however, my heart sank even further. For £8, I wasn’t expecting a whole crab but seriously, the thing was basically a canape. A teeny weeny pile of white meat arrived (a bit of brown wouldn’t hurt either), swimming in a pool of dressing, which I suspected would completely overwhelm the measly offering and I was right. The crab was merely a texture awash with the strong flavours of chilli, lime and coriander. I am not exaggerating when I say you couldn’t taste it even slightly.

We had decided to share our starters and so after the sum total of precisely one forkful of crab, I sat back to watch Chris eat the first half of his choice – smoked salmon with bread, capers and red onion. Relatively, this was much better, although they were stingy with the bread and the salmon (it looks a lot bigger in the picture than it really was).

I was in a fishy mood and so for the main event I ordered roast monkfish wrapped in serrano ham with crushed peas and a shellfish sauce and Chris the wood pigeon with lettuce, bacon, peas and summer truffles. The starters were so pathetically proportioned that our stomachs gumbled impatiently for more but alas, we were to wait what Chris estimated as forty minutes (I thought more like thirty) before our mains arrived. When they did finally reach us, my heart went through my flip flops as the dish was set in front of me. Four mean, barely centimetre thick slices, which turned out to be over cooked. The peas were fine but the accompanying shellfish sauce just tasted like a weak, canned cream of tomato soup, with none of the intense shellfish punch I had anticipated. At £17, this dish was an extraordinary rip off.

Chris’s pigeon was cooked well, blushing on the inside and crispy without but somehow they had managed to get the shavings of summer truffle to taste of nothing, perhaps through improper storage. We both agreed that the side order of Jersey Royals was the best thing about the meal – standing out for just being brilliantly, naturally tasty.

At the beginning of the meal I had been convinced we would order some ice cream to share for dessert but when it came down to it, the idea of giving these people any more money when they are clearly stretching the concept of ‘high margin’ to its absolute, unmitigated limit, was actually physically painful for me. Chris argued that it would be more sensible to go over the road to the newsagents and purchase a Snickers ice cream bar, which is exactly what he did after we paid the bill as quickly as possible. The meal came to the bones of £70, which considering we drank beer instead of wine and I was still hungry at the end, leads me to to the very certain conclusion that The Palmerston are, quite frankly, taking the piss.

The Palmerston
91 Lordship Lane
East Dulwich
SE22 8EP
0208 693 1629

Palmerston on Urbanspoon

Category: Restaurant Reviews 19 comments »

19 Responses to “The Palmerston (British, East Dulwich)”

  1. goodshoeday

    What an unfortunate way to have to spend part of your day. Lots of sympathy and hoping you have something delicious lined up for dinner. I’ll be avoiding the Palmerston should I happen to be in East Dulwich.

    goodshoedays last blog post..Anyone for English wine?

  2. Jonathan

    Sounds like the Palmerston needs to pull its socks up – lucky Cafe East isn’t too far away I guess.

    Jonathans last blog post..Throw Away Your Prohibitions – Whisky Tasting Session

  3. Becky

    It’s horrible feeling ripped off. Hopefully this info will be useful to other people considering a meal there or as a warning up to The Palmerston. Even your bad experiences make great reading though

    Beckys last blog post..Crab and Cold Noodle Salad

  4. Lizzie

    Oh no – nightmare :( What a bunch of jokers.

    Incidentally I went for a dressed crab at the seaside today – £3.50. They had just sold the last one as I’d walked in the door.

    Lizzies last blog post..Cafe East – A Vietnamese Feast

  5. Peter

    Helen, sorry to hear that they were cheap on the portions and you likely had to go for a pizza after.

    I always look for online reviews before going to someplace new or revisiting an eatery after a long absence.

    Poo on the Palmerston.

    Peters last blog post..Rice Salad (??????????)

  6. Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    I hate it when this happens! What a frustrating experience and waste of money. You could have had a magnificent lunch at Roka for £70!

    Helen Yuet Ling Pangs last blog post..Second Helpings – May 2009

  7. James

    Isn’t there a thing that you shouldn’t go out to eat on a Sunday – it’s most often the day the head chef has off, unless they work 7 days like me.

    Feel sorry for the monkfish.

    Jamess last blog post..Beef olive with pearl barley risotto and grilled vegetables

  8. Chris Pople

    Well that sounds crap. Value for money, that’s what you win points for, in my book. And this place seems to fail miserably in this regard.

    Chris Poples last blog post..Sushi Say, Willesden Green

  9. OysterCulture

    I feel your pain, nothing is more frustrating than have a craving and getting something that is so sub par, you feel ripped off and then to add insult to injury you have to supplement with a dessert. Sorry to hear about an unfortunate event in an otherwise wonder sounding day.

    OysterCultures last blog post..Special Ingredients: Avocado Leaves

  10. Carrie

    As another East Dulwich local I can say that I too have been ripped off by that place on a couple of occasions and fully sympathise! I always think that it might have improved because it’s so busy but no, it’s crap. I’d rather have the carvery at The Crown and Greyhound in Dulwich Village!!

  11. Lennie Nash

    Excellent shoeing! I ate in there once and it was dreadful too! I seem to remember the Bishop a few doors down being fairly good, or at least being a lot better value for money. I can’t stand gastropubs charging top dollar when they can’t get the basics right.


    Lennie Nashs last blog post..And Are There Truffles Still For Tea?

  12. Aromy

    Those photos just made me really hungry! I’m excited to be coming back to London soon!

    Aromys last blog post..Chain Winners!

  13. Helen

    goodshoeday – I did! BBQ mackerel :)
    Jonathan – Oh yes indeed. Much pulling up of socks is required. I shall never be visiting the Palmerston again.
    Becky – thanks! It’s easier to write about if it’s bad to be perfectly honest.
    Lizzie – Noooo – DENIED!
    Peter – yes very stingy. I did look at all the reviews but unfortunately they were all quite complimentary! They were probably written by the people that own The Palmerston ;)
    Helen – Aaaaaagh! I bet – and you know how much I want to go there! Very frustrating.
    James – Well if that’s the case then they shouldn’t be open in my opinion. I don’t think that would make a difference to their stingy portion sizes anyway would it?
    Chris – Yep, Tayyabs it ain’t.
    Oysterculture – Thanks for the sympathy :)
    Carrie – You too? I’m just glad I’ve got it out there on the internet. I’ve not ventured up to Dulwich Village much yet but I will make and effort and try the carvery.
    Lennie – Yeah I’ve heard that too – the Bishop doesn’t do particularly exciting food I don’t think but as you say, it’s a lot better value for money. I’ll give it a go next time.
    Aromy – That’s great but unless you have a very small appetite i would suggest eating somewhere else!

  14. aforkfulofspaghetti

    I take it that’s a no for the Palmerston, then..? ;-)

    Seriously, that’s not good. Definitely the kind of experience that would have me seething, too. There’s just no excuse for it.

    aforkfulofspaghettis last blog post..a tour of the garden… and the first leaves of summer

  15. kang

    A chef who manages to stripe the flavours of truffles? That’s got to be rare…. but not in a good way

    Great write up though, I felt my heart go through my flip flops too :)

    kangs last blog post..L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon: French Revolution [Review]

  16. The Ginger Gourmand

    A brutal (yet fair) write up Helen!! I think we’ve possibly had one or two OK-for-the-price-in-London meals there out of maybe 5 in total. I don’t rate it though, especially for the price so have to agree with you there.

    The Herne Tavern (sister ‘gastropub’ to The Palmerston) used to be much better and far easier on the wallet but I’ve stopped going after a couple of bad experiences. Shame, because I think they’re both nice pubs.

    The Ginger Gourmands last blog post..Stichelton & Potato Blinis with Purple Sprouting Broccoli (ITB)

  17. Kerri

    Oh, it sounds just awful :( Did you give them any feedback? I’m never entirely sure what to do in those situations but I am getting better at complaining and sending things back.

    Kerris last blog post..Barbecued Steak

  18. Nicisme

    And the bread looks burnt.

    Nicismes last blog post..Garden Update + British Asparagus

  19. Trig

    Ouch! Like Kang, I can’t understand how anyone can de-flavour a truffle. That’s an amazing culinary feat. Maybe roasting one with a coating of ground coffee, asafoetida and peppermint…

    Trigs last blog post..Deconstructing Bourdain

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