A faux-chic pub that may be a bit over-dressed for its Vauxhall surroundings. It carries all the gastro pub trappings, but The Rose feels wrongly pitched for its surroundings.
There’s an incongruity between the street presence and interior layout at The Rose on Albert Embankment near Vauxhall station. With its black canopy and paintjob exterior it can feel a little ominous on a stretch of road that is already quite bleak and grey, even with the Thames to the other side of the street. Inside is surprisingly bright though, with a small island bar on a cream tile floor and the interior given the typical shabby chic, gastro pub facelift. It’s all dense oak tables, twinkly chandeliers, gold-framed mirrors and lilies in tall vases. It may be a bit predictable, but it does look good. The upstairs dining room is a treat too, with views out over the Thames and the Houses of Parliament just about in view if you strain.
Service is awkward, to say the least. Some members of staff can appear a bit worse for wear as the evening draws on and you wonder who’s having the most fun – them or the punters. They also push for food orders when you may just be stopping by for a quick drink. This is despite having regulars who slur at staff across the bar or sit sulking with a pint in the corner. The clientele doesn’t seem to match the appearance of the pub. Since The Rose sits on a traffic highway rather than a residential neighbourhood, the flow of custom is irregular. However, the most is done to reel them in, with regular sports screenings for big events and seasonal offers to take advantage of.
Despite best efforts to maintain a gastro pub image, you may not feel like eating here during the week. If you do though, you’ll be rewarded with some pretty decent classic dishes such as fish and chips (£9.50) or steak and chips (£14.50). Chips are more like skinny fries though, which may be a sad sight for pub grub traditionalists. The menu does take some more fancy twists and turns though, with main courses like butternut and sage risotto (£8.95) and sharing dishes such as salt and pepper crispy squid (£4.95). And Sundays offer you the chance to get ROaStEd (see what they did there?), with roast dinners at £12.95.
Draught lagers are in happy supply here, and a few adventurous additions on keg make The Rose a bit different – joining Carlsberg, Staropramen and San Miguel at around £4.10 a pint is Spanish Mahou (£4.40) and German Benediktiner (£4.90). Wines match the gastro pub angle, and you can expect a strong selection of whites, reds and roses, starting at £4 a glass. There’s even a cocktail menu, and although they don’t seem to be in huge demand you can order a few variations on the Martini (£6.50) as well as Champagne and short cocktails.
The Last Word
The Rose feels sadly out of place, to the extent that the custom doesn’t match the content. And staff could do with falling in line with the gastro pub agenda a bit more. It seems like the upstairs dining room is where the most is to be made of The Rose.