Saturday 24 October 2009

Mayflower pub, Rotherhithe

The geezer and I don't normally cast our net so far afield for nights out, but we were in the Rotherhithe area already and decided to try out the Mayflower for something to eat. I thought I would share our experience with you, and perhaps save you the effort of making the trip.

I've cycled past the place many a time on the Thames cycle path and have always thought it looks like a fabulous pub with loads of character and great potential. It's right on the river in the historic cobbled streets of Rotherhithe and although it's penned in by modern flats, it has a great location.

It was a Friday night so the place was fairly busy with diners, but we managed to find a table close to the fire. There was a very pleasant ambience and although the drinks were a little pricey (£6.75 for a very acceptable pint of Greene King IPA and a pint of lager) I was hopeful that the food would be good.

Although the inside is rather 'olde-world' in style, it has been decorated by someone who feels the need to paint witty quotes about alcohol and being drunk all around the walls. The menu is on a chalk board, but don't be fooled - it's not today's specials, it's presumably so that they don't have to reprint the menus every time the prices rise (although oddly they do also have printed menus).

On the wall behind the bar was a notice reminding us, courtesy of the Drink Aware campaign, that alternating a glass of wine with a glass of water was a good way to moderate one's alcohol intake. Right next to that was a notice courtesy of the landlord announcing that only bottled water was available in this establishment, and patrons were not allowed to drink their own bottled water either. In fact the pub was somewhat awash with notices, signs, orders and instructions for every eventuality.

So we ordered our dinner. The menu is predominantly fish and seafood, with a range of steaks and a few other meaty and veggie options. When told that there was no cod for the cod,chips and mushy peas that I wanted (I could have haddock instead but it didn't come with mushy peas, the manager told me, in a voice that suggested he would find it impolite for me to enquire as to the reason) I decided to have the fresh dressed crab with salad and new potatoes.

The geezer went for fish pie which oddly came with a choice of either salad or chips (just in case you didn't already have enough potato on top of it, presumably). The "Mayflower signature dish" of shepherd's pie could also be served with chips, I noticed, whereas the "Scottish mussels" (their speech marks) did not. Even at £13 a portion.

Oh yes, the prices. The food is expensive. On a first visit you are not to know whether it is overpriced or not, at least not until you've eaten the meal. The Mayflower's food most certainly is.

We may be in London, but if I'm paying £13 for a crab salad I expect it to be exceptional. In terms of quality it was acceptable - the crab was ok, the salad was fresh and plentiful and the potatoes came in a pool of butter - but an upper price tag of £10 would have been a more reasonable level.

Likewise, the geezer's fish pie was fine, but nothing more. And it was £12.

The service was a weird mixture of uber-unctuous and unhelpful. I was particularly amused/exasperated that even when you are paying restaurant prices, you are expected to fetch your own cutlery and condiments from the sideboard next to the door.

Needless to say, we won't be going back to the Mayflower. However (annoyingly) as we left we did see a rather nice looking place just around the corner called Simplicity, which we intend to sample in the near future, so watch this space.

In the meantime, if you are up in that area I recommend instead the Yellow House Bar & Restaurant at Surrey Quays (review coming soon) and/or Banzi's vietnamese restaurant (ditto).


RC said...

I must admit it's a while seen I've been to the Mayflower. It seemed a decent pub then. It sounds like it's changed hands since, and for the worse.

I keep what I call The List, places where I know the grub is really good and doesn't involve me in applying for a bank loan. I do this because I've been to so many really rubbishy places in London over the years.

Some of the places on The List in South-East London are El Vergel, a Latin American sandwich bar near Borough Tube station; The Bridge House on Tower Bridge Road; The Sea Cow on Lordship Lane, East Dulwich; and Ask at Butler's Wharf.

Deptford dame said...

Thanks Greg, we too keep our own list (and the Sea Cow is very definitely on it for when we are in that neck of the woods!) but we are always looking to expand it. Any other ideas welcome!

Kake said...

This is my neck of the woods (I live just west of Southwark Park). Agree with you on Banzi, Simplicity, and the Yellow House. In fact I had takeaway delivery from Banzi last night.

Foodwise, you might also be interested in:

Cafe East — also Vietnamese, a bit more canteen-like than Banzi.
Old Justice — the Korean restaurant part out the back only; the pub part at the front can be rather unpleasant.
Royal Palace — only if you're comfortable ordering from the Chinese-only menu (they will help you pick out dishes if you don't read Chinese) as that's where the interesting stuff is; the English menu is a bit bog-standard.
The Deal Porter — I'm not 100% convinced about this one; I had a good and sensibly-priced steak there last year but the decor is somewhat alarming. I'm also not entirely sure it's still there.

Pubwise, the Angel is much much nicer than the Mayflower, though sadly it's Sam Smith's so only has their own-brand drinks.

shaz said...

I will always have a soft spot for The Mayflower but I have to agree with your comment on the prices. Never buy a pint of coke in there. They charge you for two 'regulars', so it ends up costing as much as a pint of cider!

However, foodwise The Mayflower excels with the sandwiches. For about £6 you get doorstep sandwiches with chips AND a hearty salad. I would particularly recommend the brie and apple sandwich.

ps, love the blog. I've just moved from Rotherhithe to Deptford so it's a nice introduction to the area. :)

Deptford dame said...

hey, thanks guys! Plenty of food for thought here, or should I say thought for food?!

johnse18 said...

I always thought a restaurant was legally obliged to serve you tap water at no charge. Would this not apply to a pub serving meals?

Having said that, I once saw a restaurant in France get round that quite neatly: "We serve tap water free, but we are not responsible for its colour or its smell".

DDKK said...

@johnse18 apparently not, there is no legal requirement although there is growing pressure to do so

Anonymous said...

Having visited the Mayflower on many occaisions over the last few years (last visit Oct 09) I really can't disagree more strongly with this review. The pub has a great atmosphere, both in the winter in front of the fire and outside watching the river in the summer. In my experience the staff are always very friendly and the food is of a great standard; both in the restaurant up stairs and in the bar. The prices, whilst not the cheapest are reasonable. To quibble over a pound or two for a crab salad seems a little pedantic to me. If the writer is that concerned about watching the pennies maybe he shouldn't be going out at all.

Anonymous said...

...says the Mayflower landlord.

Looking for an appropriate correlation between price and value doesn't make you cheap, it makes you discerning. If the landlord isn't concerned that customers may not want to part with all of their pennies, perhaps he shouldn't be running a pub at all.