Well June is here and we’re enjoying what is typical British early summer weather, boiling hot one minute and then sub-aquatic the next. Recently one Monday when the climate seemed to veering between the two extremes on an hourly basis I realized that it’d been some time since myself and the Ultimate Rugby Fan (URF,) had been to a pub quiz.
I was keen to go, but also keen to try out somewhere new. I have to admit I’m one for mixing it up and don’t like doing the same quiz too frequently, as you end up seeing the same faces and having the same food until it feels as much routine as fun. On a whim then, we decided to try the quiz out at ‘The Goat’ on Battersea Rise.
As I’ve been living in the area since approximately the dawn of time (according to the URF at least, she’s also asked on occasions though for me geological age,) I can remember when the Goat first opened as the ‘Faraday & Firkin.’ This was sometime back in the late 90’s and my memories are of a huge barn of a place which had been converted from some sort of meeting hall into a brewpub complete with all the equipment. At the back large tanks of home brewed beer dominated, topped off with sparking animatronic figures of Michael Faraday, the noted electrical pioneer. What the venue had to do with the discovery of electricity I’ll never know, what I do remember was that it made you feel like you were drinking in a ride queue at Disneyland, a not unpleasant but somewhat un-needed sensation.
Today the Goat remains a popular choice amongst drinkers, but seemed rather subdued the night we chose to visit. Despite the fact it was quiz night and a 1st round night in the Euro’s, the pub was only about a third full. I couldn’t help but notice that the décor felt a tad careworn as if the whole pub is a little bit too far past its last refit, you know more shabby than chic. The staff though remain extremely friendly and pleasant.
By the time we got in lunch was not so much a distant memory but a much discounted one. Naturally then we were both very hungry and pounced on the menus like, well mountain goats.
In terms of food there appears to be quite a lot of choice, in fact rather too much disparate choice if you know what I mean. Much of it however seemed homemade by the pub itself, and it did seem reasonably priced.
Monday nights as well offering a pub quiz offer a burger deal, where you can get your choice of a house burger with a pint of one of three lagers for £10. This seemed like a deal for me, so I selected a brisket burger. To avoid confusion, that’s a burger with a slice of brisket on top of the patty, so double beef rather than a burger made of brisket. This came with fries or in my case sweet potato fries and onion rings.
The URF noticed that the chicken and ham hock pie was listed twice on the menu, since she already fancied it so this felt this was like a sign that she must have it. So order it she did. The food needed accompaniment and this was provided by a pint of lager for me (as part of the deal) and a bottle of the Australian ‘Scribble’ Verdehlo, for us to share later on.
So having ordered we sat down with our drinks and started to wait. After drinking a bit and waiting, we waited a bit longer. Sometime later I looked at my watch and noticed that a surprisingly large amount of time had passed, I put my wrist down and we settled back and went back to waiting. It took well over 40 minutes from placing the order to the food arriving and no word of apology or explanation.
I commented at first that this was good as it meant our food was being cooked fresh, but then after a while that seemed like scant compensation for our rumbling tummies. Yes it was the height of the evening rush, but there was hardly anyone in there, also not everyone had ordered food.
I would like to say that after it was worth the wait, but it wasn’t. My burger was OK, the sweet potato fries particularly nice, but it was obvious my food had been plated up and then set to one side whilst waiting for the URF’s to be finished. The tops of the fries were cold, as were the onion rings. The burger was good, if getting a little chilly, with good flavour coming off of the brisket.
This could not be said of the URF’s chicken and ham hock pie, in fact very little could be said of the ham hock since it seemed to have managed to perform an entirely successful escape from the confines of the crust. Wherever the URF looked not a sign of ham hock could be found, it was like it was never in the pie at all. The pie also had boiled rather the roasted chicken and carrots so overdone as to resemble in flavour the HB pencils I used to chew on at junior school.
The food therefore it has to be said was at least disappointing and at worst getting close to inedible. The menu itself is relatively simple and full of crowd pleasers, I would suggest cutting back on it rather and producing fewer things but better. Well giving that advice never seemed to do Gordon Ramsay any harm.
The quiz itself is a different format to what’ve experienced elsewhere, perhaps one unique to ‘The Goat.’ On the plus side it’s produced independently for the goat by the quiz master, it’s also relatively short at only about 25 questions and an hour’s length. You also get bonus points for your best doodle of a goat. The URF managed to produce an epic rendering of an angry Brexit obsessed goat called Nigel Forage (geddit?) which turned out to be a good use of the time we spent waiting for the food.
The quiz costs £5 to enter regardless of team size and the prize is the kitty of entrance money. There’s also a bottle of wine for best team name, and another on this occasion for whoever won the heads of tails challenge. I can tell you it definitely wasn’t me.
The quiz master is confident and knows his stuff, unfortunately if there aren’t enough teams, like on this occasion, the sheer size of the room makes it difficult to develop much in the way of atmosphere. I think I might have also been in a bad mood because of the food and a wine which rather than growing was actually rather shrinking on me with every passing sip.
We somehow managed to win, helped mostly by the URF’s goat art, which is probably now in the Tate modern and a little by my knowledge of 70’s music. My mood was made even better at that point by having to wear a goat headdress whilst the URF clutched a goat shield which was then photographed, a copy of which is currently (and hopefully slowly) making its way to the Goat’s Facebook page. I think I looked a little like a Womble crossed with a Viking (would that be a Woking?)
So the question is would I go again. The quiz had good content, but little atmosphere, though this wasn’t the fault of the quiz master and might be better if more teams were taking part. The food though whilst not the worst I’ve had was perhaps the most disappointing. Yes I’d probably go back for the quiz, but I’d bring sandwiches….
Till the next time
66 Battersea Rise,
Greater London020 7350 0349