Scribblings from the hard shoulder of the Information Superhighway

Grand Central Station

(Steve Forbert) Grand Central, Basildon

Jeremy and I were heading east, out of London after visiting the Classic Car Show at the Excel, discussing where to lunch when Jeremy suggested ‘Grand Central’, near Basildon’s ‘Pipps Hill’ retail park. I’d driven past a hundred times in its previous incarnations, so figured it was worth a look.

Inside it’s kinda untidy looking, there are traces of Americana, artful graffiti and ‘Grand Central’ allusions, although we were curious as to the fate of ‘Booth 37’.

We were shown to our booth and handed menus, the food is – as you would expect – American. Burgers, Ribs and so on, with a few flourishes – more of which later.

For starters we ordered Chicken Wings – with a Chipotle sauce – and a ‘Blooming Onion’, a ‘much requested’ hangover from the restaurant’s previous incarnation.

The wings were well cooked, meaty, and the dressing spicy, but not overly so. Very tasty.

The  ‘Blooming Onion’ was huge – the waitress had cautioned us thus – but delicious, the ‘petals’ soft and juicy beneath a crispy batter. There was a distinctly average mayonnaise dip in the centre of the ‘bloom’, but it was most enjoyable.

We couldn’t finish either, Jeremy took the remaining wings home in foil.

For main courses, Jeremy ordered the ‘Classic Burger’ which came ‘Served in a seeded brioche with smoked cheddar, gem lettuce, tomato, onions, smokey bacon mayo, red cabbage slaw and skin on chips.’ The burger and fries were okay, but a little examination found the smoked cheddar to be a single slice of processed cheese, and the lettuce, tomato and onion to be perfunctory. Not overly impressed, for over a tenner.

For my main, I ordered the “Mango crab stack” which promised “two crispy soft shell crabs served in a charcoal brioche bun with baconnaise, mango, gem, sweet chilli sauce and dirty fries. Again, the crabs and ‘dirty fries’ were fine, the charcoal brioche a bit off-putting but the garnishes were disappointing.

Three tiny strips of Mango? It’s called a Mango crab stack, surely the Mango should be vying with the crabs for attention, not slipped in almost apologetically.

We both agreed that the mains were a disappointment, but that we’d enjoyed the starters.

We enjoyed a couple of pints of Hop House 13 lager and the total bill, for the two of us, came to a little over £60.

Would I go back? Maybe.

Next time (if there’s a next time) then I might try the ribs, we both agreed that we wouldn’t order those mains again, but there are other mains on the menu.

Rating: ★★★½☆ – and one of those was for the ‘Blooming Onion’.