Neighbourhood: River Heights
Address: 164 Stafford St.
Phone: (204) 415-3262
While tradition breeds comfort, the tried and true can become staid and boring. At The Grove Restaurant & Pub, owner Miles Gould has found a fine balance of old and new.
Located in the hub of Crescentwood/River Heights, the new eatery opened last June, moving into the former home of Tubby’s, the legendary pizza joint on Stafford Street. A total renovation has transformed the space into an inviting pub that’s winning over diners from the ‘hood and well beyond.
Inside you’ll find families taking a night off from home cooking, pals catching up for a pint and a sports match (displayed on multiple LCD TVs) and couples out on dates.
Forget the clichéd old leather-bound books, stone fireplaces and wooden panelling yanked straight from the design book of ye olde-style British pubs. Instead, The Grove brilliantly blends old with new. Vintage-style coach lanterns and a smattering of black-and-white photos adorn pale, cucumber-green walls. A stone and distressed wood bar—home base for staff who expertly mix cocktails and pull pints—helps separate the dining room from the lounge. For thirst-quenching refreshment, try the aptly named Stafford Street Lager, a crisp house beer of the 12 domestic and import varieties on tap.
The menu offers a playful mix of classic comfort fare and upscale pub grub. Look for nouveau pub cuisine in the appetizers, like succulent Berkshire pork belly. Slow roasted to luscious perfection, each thick, bite-sized parcel of meat bursts forth with savoury juices. A drizzle of tare, a Japanese soy-based sauce is an unexpectedly sweet complement. A small bed of sweet potato purée adds earthy sweetness, while accompanying house-pickled cucumber, carrots and beets infuse tang, and add spikes of colour to the plate.
Chicken croquettes—filled with finely diced chicken and silky béchamel sauce—are decadent, crispy morsels. Swirl the deep-fried pouches in smooth, toasted walnut and roasted red pepper-driven romesco sauce. A finishing squirt of zesty lemon juice cuts the sauce’s creamy sweetness.
Meanwhile, stick-to-your-ribs cottage pie is the definition of comfort food. A thick layer of velvety mashed potato makes the ideal blanket for Angus ground beef, onions, peas and carrots in this mildly peppered pie.
No pub menu is complete without fish and chips. The Grove delivers a surprisingly light coated halibut fillet—no heavy beer batter crust here. The hand-cut chips with sea salt and slivers of crispy potato skins would be at home in any English chip shop.
Sarnies (that’s English slang for sandwiches) and pizzas (an homage to its pizzeria predecessor) round out the menu. A British classic, the coronation chicken sarnie is a curry-laced, diced chicken and mayonnaise creation layered with arugula between soft slices of ciabatta bread. The aforementioned chips or a basic vinaigrette-dressed, dark leafy green salad are strong sides.
Of the seven personal-sized pizzas offered, the Danielle looks and tastes like pizza straight from Italy thanks to its Mediterranean-inspired toppings and pleasing bubbly crust. Sharp, savoury and sweet notes of arugula, freshly shaved Parmesan, caramelized onion and Spanish piquillo peppers harmonize with kalamata olives, artichokes and sundried tomatoes.
The Grove is open Mon-Thu & Sun 11 am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11 am-2 am.