There are a miscellany of things which contributed to me concluding that The Grenadier is actually fairly terrible. A historic pub which started life as a military mess hall and is lodged between Hyde Park and Belgravia ought to be a jewel in the crown of London’s pub scene; but it’s not.
Sullen, unfriendly, uncomfortable and dull. I arrived full of hope after a brisk walk through the wide streets of Georgian townhouses in the refreshing air of a January Saturday afternoon. This hope was crushed almost immediately as I entered a gloomy bar and was visually appraised by the barmaid in a manner which made it clear she’d rather go back to standing around in eerie silence than interact with a lively cluster of patrons.
After having exchanged pints for money using a bare minimum of verbal communication my companions and I sought out a perch. There front bar is small so we opted for stools near the windows in order to gaze out at the world; mainly to remind ourselves it was still there and that we could return to it soon after enduring the suffocatingly terrible atmosphere and feeling that we weren’t wanted. Most of seating is at the back in one of the two dining rooms both of which are dark and one of which is actually a corridor to the bogs.
Just because a pub is a relic from a bygone era it doesn’t mean it can’t move with the times; The Shaston Arms, The Market Porter, The George Inn all being fine examples. Many pubs make the best of their origins but remain relevant to avoid alienating new custom as the older clientele inevitably shuffle off the mortal coil. The Grenadier is failing spectacularly to do this. Aged military relics and antiques adorn the walls and ceiling, mouldering books gather dust in the corner and lighting remains depressingly dim.
I’m not suggesting that the pub abandon its genuinely interesting military past or become a Yates Wine Lodge but it needs energy and passion injecting into it and certainly needs staff who don’t peer down their noses at customers as if they’re something they’ve just scraped off the bottom of their shoe. Something new needs to be offered; until then I’d give it a wide berth.